By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
You, my friend, are in your own way. You come to counselors, online dating (Christian Mingle? That sounds like a Ben and Jerry’s flavor), career coaches, and religion to make your life better, yet nothing improves. But I know why you are still single. Or can’t get that promotion. Or are just plain stuck. And no, it isn’t circumstances or bad luck. It is due to the fact that you are, or can be, a Terribly Difficult Person.
Don’t get me wrong! I have been labeled Difficult a good portion of my life. Sadly, anyone can become a Difficult Person without too much provocation. Usually, it’s the result of some childhood wounding or a past hot button push that can bring out the worst in us as we fight our demons. For example, I am sad to report I have an official Authority Problem due to some bad past experiences. It took me awhile to realize that every cop, teacher, or indeed authority figure didn’t have to prompt me to be Difficult. They weren’t my father.
Difficult people get in their own way because:
You’re hostile. You’re too intense. You’re irritable and cynical, and you lack insight into this fact. You tailgate on the road and whip in and out of traffic. You treat subordinates or anyone without the power or position to stand up to you rudely. You blow up at the waitress when your card is declined. You think you’re Seth MacFarlane with your use of insult humor. You are here to burn this mother to the ground. You leave nasty anonymous comments on the internet. You’re mistrustful and never wrong. And you have no insight into how your reactivity brings out the same aggressive response in others.You are Chris Brown throwing a chair through an ABC morning show window. You are, God help you, Mel Gibson.
You’re passive aggressive. Hostility’s less sexy cousin, the less obvious use of aggression. Don’t fear the friend who punches you. Fear the enemy who hugs you. This is aggression by deniable means: sabotage, behind-the-back duplicity, dragging your feet. This is the housewife who says to herself Well I’ll just show you by spending all the money. This is tossing a poisoned steak over the neighbor’s fence to stop a dog-barking problem…and then feigning your innocence. Or my favorite: hiding behind “I’m just kidding! You’re so sensitive” mind-screw or the use of sarcasm. You are Mother Gothel from Tangled. Delightful.
You’re ego maniacal. You come first, last, and forever. Everything is personal. You have high standards for everyone else’s behavior, you can’t compromise, and you lose it when there’s a problem. You probably think this paragraph is about you. You are always, always right. And you’d rather have everyone know you’re right than actually come up with solutions to problems. Reality TV has made the Ego Maniac a easily recognized Difficult Person. Congrats! You are Donald Trump.
You have a serious swagger deficit. You’re pessimistic and anxious, a naysayer that downplays the solutions others suggest. You’re unhappy, and it doesn’t take much of an obstacle in life to take you there. You don’t realize worrying about problems is not contributing to the solution or being helpful. You, my friend, are what I call The Yeahbut Rabbit. You kick up doubts and negativity. And you can’t be influenced to be different. You, sadly, are George Costanza. But a painfully unfunny version.
You are terrified of rejection. You’re always scanning for slights or insults from others and usually find them whether they were meant or not. Everyone always hurts you on purpose or for sport, according to you. And then you come undone and after me for the perceived slights. My inbox is full of your deep thoughts regarding my dark motives against you. “Are you mad at me?” you constantly whimper. You’re needy, and it ain’t pretty. Your sensitivity to being rejected puts a chip on your shoulder the size of a city block. Because according to you, I and the world are constantly devaluing or disrepecting you. And it makes me want to devalue or disrespect you. You, egad, are Marilyn Monroe.
So, as one recovering Difficult Person to another, let’s stop overreacting, shall we? This isn’t Jersey Shore or Survivor. A little restraint over life won’t hurt you. In fact, I think it’s high time we brought back the use of restraint when we’re provoked. These above listed are character defects. While highly entertaining in, say, an episode of Cheaters, in real life? These personality traits just make you Incredibly Difficult. And not entertaining in the least. It’s called stoicism, folks. And I say we look back into it as a society. Or hey! Maybe we should just bring back public shaming.