Monday, April 28, 2014

Invented Adversaries

Do you know anyone who can't seem to live without a manufactured enemy to vanquish?  I know a few of these people, and it makes getting things done really difficult.  Don't get me wrong, there are many causes to fight for that are worthy of our time and energy, and that I wish more people would get involved with. These aren't the problem. The problem I see is when tiny, rather inconsequential things are held up as a rally point for those who will not do anything constructive but want to have something to demonize and complain about to make themselves look heroic;  you know, the Twinkie protesters and the "ban a book I don't like" crowd. These exhausting individuals hijack conversations and eclipse bigger issues with their dramas that ultimately aren't real problems, just inconveniences.

I spent a big chunk of last week dealing with a situation caused by two people like this. They misrepresented information, manufactured a crisis, and caused an uproar.  Not only did it require time and energy to counteract, it robbed some people of peace of mind.  That is a very hard thing to restore.  I don't get my time or energy back, and the other people involved in cleaning up the mess don't either.  I will also have to spend more time being vigilant and proactive about staying ahead of these people from now on, which makes me bitter. I have more than enough to do without any more work.

I confess to not understanding a need for drama, and I really don't care to invest my time in understanding, which is my bias.  What do try to do is put things in perspective, offer opportunities to change the conversation or at least disseminate information, and then I try not to commit any further time or energy into it. Sometimes these tactics work, but other times, they just make me feel like I've done all I can so I can let things go.  I am typically of the opinion that if you don't; like something it's better to try and fail to make change than sit around and complain. At least I can say I did something.  When my bag of tricks isn't adequate, I often have to walk away from a situation, a person, or a fight that sucks my energy and happiness for my sanity.

It is ongoing work to keep the influence of toxic people out of our lives, but the rewards are well worth the effort, even when we get annoyed about the need for it.  Identify toxic behaviors, determine the best course of action ( i.e. some people are best defeated by your calm and others need to hear that you aren't going to take it anymore), and stick to your plan. If you slip up in dealing with these types of people, forgive yourself, amend your action plan, and stick to your principals. Don't invest any more time or energy than is absolutely necessary, and  cut the cords to avoid being dinner for an energy vampire. Remind yourself, as often as necessary that you are in control of your reactions and that you are a better person for not perpetuating toxic behaviors.

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