07 Aug How to Get Along With Troublesome People [Rare New Thought Book (1948)]
Ah God! that men would see a little clearer,
Or judge less harshly where they can not see!
Ah God! that men would draw a little nearer
To one another-they’d be nearer Thee,
From “Not Understood”
HOW TO GET ALONG WITH TROUBLESOME PEOPLE
By Frederick William Bailes (1948)
MOST PHILOSOPHIES intended to produce inner tranquillity have one drawback- they call for withdrawal from the world of men. The cloistered life, sheltered from the impact of other personalities, might have seemed desirable in past centuries, but today man needs a philosopny which will enable him to live in the hurly-burly of the modern world, surrounded by people rather than withdrawn from them, advancing upon life’s problems rather than retreating from them.
We are tied up in the bundle of life with others. Each has ends lie wishes to gain, a personality that differs from our own, curious and diverse standards of ethics and morals, and perhaps mannerisms that irk us. But they are here, and we must learn how to get along with them, in the home, office, factory, and across national boundaries.
If we can find a logical, fair, and sensible approach to those who cross our path and whose divergent aims seem to be at cross-purposes with our own, we might find the way to international as well as personal “peace with dignity.”
• Getting Along With Oneself
THE FIRST THING that one has to learn in getting along with others is how to get along with his own difficult self. True, there are many disagreeable persons in the world.; yet it must be admitted that much of our trouble with them comes from within us primarily, and from them only secondarily. Some hidden rage within us, of which we might be totally unaware, sets off in them the reactions from which we eventually suffer. Being hurt by their reaction, we accept the surface explanation and condemn them as being mean.
Looking deeper, the observant person can note that their animosity merely reflects his own frustration. For the most part, he who looks outside himself for the cause of his woes looks in the wrong direction; he who looks within for a hitherto hidden cause will often open the gates of an un• suspected prison and will open the way into the mastery of life.
The unadjusted person finds himself surrounded by unadjusted individuals. The uncooperative person attracts uncooperative attitudes from others. These are often tokens of his inner maladjustment rather than proofs of the ugliness of others. Well-adjusted people have little difficulty with others, for they attract harmony; inharmony finds it difficult to thrive in their atmosphere.
• Badness ls Blindness
PEOPLE ARE SOMETIMES PUZZLED when students of human nature declare that human nature is fundamentally good. They point to the almost universal selfishness, greed, and cruelty manifested on the personal, group, class, national, and inter national level as evidence to the contrary. The reply is that while human nature basically is good, it is also blind.
Mankind generally is conscious of deep desires for security, love, happiness, comfort. The preponderant mass of men mistakenly believes that to achieve these goals they must push others away from them. In their blind fear that they will be left out, they act selfishly, sometimes cruelly. Passengers who have been gracious acquaintances during a voyage will strike and kick others out of the way during a shipwreck in order to get into the lifeboat. In the same way, the struggle for survival is responsible for the meanness of blinded persons in daily life. The supreme act of cruelty in the world’s history was thus seen by its victim, who said, “Forgive them; they know not what they do.” Wickedness is often a wrong aim ra1her 1han a wrong intention.
• Guarding Against Frustration
MAN MUST GUARD AGAINST his inner frustrations, for through the law of cause and effect they are at the root of much of the unfair treatment he receives from others. Sooner or later, he is treated as he deserves rather than as he wishes. His inner turmoil sets off ugliness in others who, having less restraint, allow it to break forth into action.
The frustrated person is always unhappy deep within himself whether he reveals it to the world or not. He may show it by an attitude of complaint and criticism, or he may not; but the grass always looks greener on the other side of his fence.
He is envious; he says, “If I had his money, looks, position. political influence, education, or family position-things come easy for him-he is lucky.” The tendency is to think the other fellow is not faced with the problems that confront him, that the other’s path is easy while his is hard.
He thinks he could do better with a different employer or fellow employees-that he could sell better in a different territory. If he has failed financially, be wants to overturn the economic system, hoping to get something better in the economic shuffle.
In one sense, he is an idealist, a perfectionist, but he is looking in the wrong direction for the cause of his failure to achieve his ideal. He looks everywhere but in the right place within himself. Man best cleans up the world’s wrongs by sweeping his own doorstep. Anything short of this is a flight from reality to fantasy.
Having moved mentally into the world of his ideal, dreaming of the accompanying enjoyment, he is brought up with a jerk by the realities of his insufficiency. His ability to dream plus his inability to achieve his end sets up a frustration which turns to hidden rage. He is blind, not bad. He wants a magic wand to dissolve his obstructions, grant all his wishes, make angels of those around him while leaving him to remain emotionally immature. It just cannot be done.
• Attitude of Well-Adjusted Person
ON THE OTHER HAND, the well-adjusted person does not demand absolute perfection in those about him, because he is clearly aware of his own imperfection. The maladjusted says, “I am unhappy because others are not kind and cooperative with me. Nobody helps me. I might as well end it all,” or “Let’s have a revolution and overthrow the whole system.”
The adjusted person says, “I have the same difficulties because I live in a world of imperfect humans. I see much to criticize, but I go ahead, trying to do my daily stint.” He does what he can, endeavoring to adjust himself to ugliness where it shows up, knowing that neither he nor his neighbors are all that they should be.
All persons are a little abnormal at some point. This is a bitter pill, but the well-adjusted person swallows it. Our own peculiarities have been so long with us that they seem normal. Our own views seem to be unbiased; yet we all are unconsciously slanted in specific directions. Our early conditioning colors our interpretation of the experience no matter how objective we try to be. When the maladjusted person finds turmoil appearing in his affairs, he asks, “Why do people do these things to me?” The adjusted person asks, “What in me might be stirring this up in them? Have I been thinking in terms of cross-purposes, obstructions and animosities at some other point in my affairs?” Are these seeping through into my outer life to show them selves in the disagreeable actions of others?”
Knowing that nothing can come into his life but that which attracts either consciously or unconsciously, he begins to take note of little things which have crept in unnoticed-little irritations which normally would have been brushed aside or ignored, but which be has carelessly allowed to get under his skin. When he sweeps bis own doorstep and checks these irritations, he finds things quieting down in those who surround him.
• Treatment for Inner Peace
IN THE SCIENCE OF MIND, he would accomplish this by giving himself mental treatment, approximately as follows:
Peace must be the true state of man because Peace lies at the heart of the Infinite – quiet, deep, unruffled Peace. Since this is true, and my mentality is merely an extension of this Infinite Mind, then that which is true of the Infinite must be true of me.
No person, place or thing has the power to irritate me without my consent. In my fathomless depths is the Infinite Peace. These ripples are only on the surface, and are transient. This sense of hurt and irritation is not part of my true self; it does not belong to me and was never intended to be part of my experience. I send my love, tolerance, and kindliness in the direction of that irritation, and my new attitude dissolves everything unlike itself.
Practicing this tiny phase of the Law of l\1ental Action is usually sufficient to replace turmoil with peace, and this new attitude is reflected in others’ co-operative ness where bitterness had been.
• Sensitiveness and Self-Pity
SENSITIVENESS AND SELF-PIT Y are signs of emotional immaturity. The slave of self-pity is of all men most miserable, because he need never take more than a few steps beyond his front door to find someone giving him a look or a word which confirms his false belief that the world is against him.
This person is always on a “sensitivity defensive.” This grows out of a sense of in adequacy although he does not know it. In one way, he has correctly analyzed him self and found himself wanting. Instead of building up his conviction of his own competency, he takes the easier attitude of expecting rejection from others. Instead of altering himself, he stands on the alert for criticism from others; his unconscious guilt sense makes him quick to read into the actions of others that which unconsciously exists only in the depths of his own subconscious mind. This puts him in an attitude oI separation from them.
They, without reasoning it out, feel separated from him, therefore unresponsive to him; it is his own “atmosphere of separation” operating through them and attracting that which it is like. Thus his own sensitiveness brings that from which he shrinks. Moreover, even though others do nothing hostile, his “sensitivity defensive” makes him read hostility into innocent performance or good-natured teasing.
Assuming that we have arrived at the adjusted life, how shall we act toward trouble some persons? Even the emotionally mature run into those who are uncooperative, quarrelsome, selfish, tearful, or explosive when trying to get their own way. Should we yield to them, or resist? There is a proper way to handle these persons.
• Pity Dissolves Anger
TWO ATTITUDES ARE HELPFUL -pity and decisiveness, equally balanced. Walking through the mountain pine growths, one is struck by the fact that most pines grow straight and true, hut one here and there is crooked and deformed. To the natural inquiry, the forester answers that some outside influence exerted itself while that tree was a sapling-a heavy stone, perhaps a fence post that is no longer there. The cause has gone; the effect remains.
This person was not born with an evil disposition. All children are naturally loving; they crave and give affection freely. Some influence must have played upon this one to tum him sour. Had we been subjected to it, we too should have grown up with this kind of disposition. So our first emotion is pity-pity that what was intended to be a thing of beauty has become deformed through the play of life upon it, and thankfulness that we were spared those warping childhood influences, or that we have been able to correct our attitudes and live normally with others.
Our pity would keep us from criticism, hatred, or trying to get even with the warped mentality. One would not hate a person who had an ugly physical deformity; he would be thankful he had been spared it.
• Meanness ls Uuhappiness
THIS DISTORTED PERSONALITY must be abjectly unhappy within himself, for he is twisted away from the normal attitudes to his fellows. He is out of line with the stream of life, filled with a seething unrest, not knowing how to attain peace. Often he attacks those who have been kindest to him, for their inner peace and evident adequacy throw his unrest into bold relief. If he cannot come up to their quiet, he tries to bring them down to his turmoil. He does not do this consciously; he would violently deny it, hut his actions show that it is an unconscious desire, for they result in turmoil to those about him. Misery loves company!
The adjusted person does not give tit for tat when hurt, because that would be to drop down to the level upon which this unhappy one lives; thus he would be tuned in to the same mental frequency and would become enmeshed in the negative mental states of the other. As long as he remains aloof, he circles upon a higher plane, detached from negative contact, and can thus help the other. The man who stands well braced on the pier can pull the drowning man out where they might both drown if he jumped into the water with the rope.
Man possesses a faculty by which he need never be hurt by anything done by anyone else. He can rise above any shafts aimed at him, taking a selfless position where he refuses to accept anything of a hurtful nature as personal. Whenever he allows himself to be hurt, he has descended from this impregnable position and his angry tone indicates that he has allow himself to drop to the level of the neurotic. The integrated individual refuses to do this. His inner calm is his unassailable citadel. No one else can storm it. Only he can surrender it. This he refuses to do even under great provocation. He has pity for those who surrender.
• Stand Quietly Firm
BUT HE IS DECISIVE ALSO. Knowing that this person has been conditioned to believe that he can get his wishes by storming, tears, or tantrums, and knowing that he must not be encouraged in this false belief, the adjusted person faces him with firmness, refusing to yield in order to prevent a scene. Every tantrum that succeeds in producing what the person wants merely confirms him in the notion that his way is right and makes him more troublesome.
But not all neurotics rave and scream. There is the sweet, soft-spoken person who gets her way by silent weeping fainting spells, or ”heart attacks” when she can’t have her way. Her subtle approach makes others feel brutally unkind and is quite effective. The feminine gender; is used here, because it is found more often in women, as the explosive technique is found more often in men.
• The Curse of Self-Love
THE CHIEF CHARACTERISTIC of troublesome persons is that they want their own way. Others exist only to cater to their wishes. Whether noisy or silent, they are dictators at heart. Self-love is stronger than love of others. They do for others only those things which feed their own ego; they frequently use the phrase: “After all I have done for you.” They believe in lofty self-sacrifice for others, but do not practice it themselves. When persuading some one to do something for them, they promise eternal gratitude, which lasts only until they want the next favor when the whole cycle starts all over again. They make the giver feel heartless unless he gives in; so he surrenders to avoid a scene.
There is no appeasement of their appetite, because it feeds upon its own gratification. Finally, after one has yielded repeatedly and now takes his stand, saying “No more,” the scene comes anyway, proving that appeasement never gains gratitude. The normal person is always ready to help a friend in distress; this is as it should be. The above comments refer only to the habitual parasite.
Unselfish assistance helps the average person along the road he is manfully trying to negotiate under his own power. One of life’s primary lessons is that each must learn to stand on his own feet, facing his problems as far as possible alone. He who receives help too easily and too frequently soon learns that this method is easier than self-propulsion. Constant assistance fosters this false view and is destructive to his best character development.
• Evading Responsibility
IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN TRUE that man is on a voyage of exploration. He is a vast continent of undiscovered resources, gifts, powers. Some hover timidly or lazily along the shores, content to have the more robust souls penetrate the uncertain hinter land and bring hack the good things of life. They must be taught that they have responsibilities, for they are part of the bundle of humanity on the ocean of life. Both they and their neighbors have oars, and they have to pull their share. It is not enough to say, “I am tired and I have a blister”; the others are tired and have blisters too.
Everybody has blisters. Everybody gets tired, but life rewards courage and persistence with more courage; thus character develops.
The integrated person has thoughtfully developed an intelligent approach to the various sides of life from which trouble is likely to arise. He has worked out the proper attitudes toward his health, money, work, ethics, morals, and friendships, so that his attitudes can be fair to himself and at the same time fair and human toward his neighbor. This becomes his life policy. Business houses succeed where they have a definite business policy; so does the individual.
Once his policy is decided upon, it becomes his plan for successful living. He is wise never to depart from it under the pressure of others, nor will he seek to impose his ideas upon others. He takes his stand upon the following: ” I will never impose upon anyone beyond that which I would expect him to impose upon me,” and conversely, ” I will not allow anyone to impose upon me beyond that which I would impose upon him.” This makes for decision of character; anything else makes for wob bly-mindedness. Clear thinking produces clear acting; muddy thinking makes for muddy acting.
• A Reasonable Philosophy of Life
THIS IS A REASONABLE philosophy of life. It means that we recognize the inviolability of the human personality. No one has the right to invade the individuality of another and expect him to break up his pattern of life to cater to the insufficiencies of the former. This may sound like harsh doctrine to the escapist and the clinger; on the contrary it is eminently fair, because the person practices it coming and going. He will not impose upon, but he demands the same immunity for himself. He does not say that they shall live by his pattern, but he insists that they shall not make him live by theirs.
“But,” someone asks, “is not one boorish in refusing to go along with tl1e neurotic?” Not if he retains a cheerful, non-censorious attitude toward the other. He refuses to hate or criticize him, but he also refuses to cater to his neurosis.
“No” can be uttered with either a falling on a rising inflection. The former is sometimes called the “banker’s no,” although this is a slander upon most bankers.
The latter is the “No” with which one says he takes no sugar in his coffee–quite decisive, but with no criticism of those who take sugar. There is no personal pleasure in refusing, no gloating, no feeling that one has handed him just what he deserves. We are completely friendly to him, but not to his false attitude toward life.
Shakespeare spoke deep truth when he made Polonius say:
To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
The most valuable man is he who, having set an ideal, remains true to it in spite of another’s anger and vituperation. His steadiness helps those who grope blindly toward self-sufficiency, in the long run, even though at the moment they may accuse him of being selfish, heartless, and of “breaking my heart.”
But there must be no inward apology for his attitudes. He must really be sold on his pattern of life. Otherwise he will only alienate, and do no good, for his inward uncertainty will register in the mind of the other.
Getting along with troublesome people is simply being as true as one can to his inner ideals. The world is full of people who would switch him onto side tracks, offering the most specious arguments to support their view. If he is sure that his ideals have been conceived in a spirit of fairness to all if he can stand by them without inner apology on the one hand or acrimony on the other, then that which is best for him eventually turn out to be best for all those whose lives are affected by his decisions.
Dr. Frederick Bailes gave weekly lectures to capacity audiences in Los Angeles and was well known for his twice-weekly radio broadcasts. He is also the author of Your Mind Can Heal You; Basic Principles of the Science of Mind; The Healing Power of Balanced Emotions; and Collected Essays of Frederick Bailes.
In his book Your Mind Can Heal You he gives a seven step approach to spiritual mind treatment. It starts, he says, “with the fundamental truth that the person for whom we are treating is a perfect idea in the Mind of God, and our whole procedure during a treatment is intended to remove from our own mind any idea or picture of imperfection or sickness.” Here are the seven “R’s” that Bailes suggests:
Relaxation: We assume a position that assures physical relaxation and a quiet mind.
Recognition: We recognize that we are not speaking into a void. We are surrounded by the Creative Mind of the universe, which receives our thought embodied in our words and sets to work to carry it out into material form.
Relationship: We consciously unify with the Creative Mind, knowing that we ourselves, the person treated for, and this Mind are all one. There can never be any separation between them.
Reasoning: To arrive at this inner certainty, we have to dissolve all doubts. We go through a process of reasoning to arrive at this certainty.
Realization: Once we have arrived at the point where we realize the inner perfection of the one being treated for, we shall know it, because we shall have arrived at a place of quiet, calm assurance.
Release: We are not responsible for the outcome of the treatment. Our only responsibility is to build a clear picture in our mind of the perfection of ourselves and the one being treated for, and to remove all doubts about that perfection. We now release this picture to the Creative Mind.
Rejoice: We give thanks for the success of our treatment, not to influence how Mind works but to confirm our belief that the entire situation is resolved in exactly the right and ideal way.