The last two months were pretty rough for me. There is this guy I know (Let’s call him Adam for now) whose company was mentally draining. My endorphins copiously started pouring out of my brain’s faucet every time he was around. But here’s the thing: I didn’t have an option to neglect him this time because his family had come to visit mine. Over the past few years, puberty happened, paradigms shifted, positivity snuck in, and I had learnt to accept people for who they are. But my opinion of him? Stuck with me like a leech. To me, he was a nasty, exhausting, unnecessary existence. Bluntly put, I hated him. I was too stubborn to reexamine my intense feelings of dislike. As a kid, he had always been the reason for my poor self-esteem, lack of faith in my capabilities, my sudden bursts of anguish, global warming, poverty, mental disorders, terrorism… (Okay, maybe not). But it wasn’t just me; there were so many like me. We could have started a ‘#WeHateAdam’ club.
S0 here is where the story begins: How do you get along with someone like Adam? Trying to like him was like trying to beat my Flappy Bird-high score. (Not happening). Adam being Adam + my perverse nature never left any room for cooperation. However, now, Adam and I are in a pretty healthy relationship. I’m not a relationship expert, but since I could get over my anchored grudge for him, I think I might have something that could possibly help you deal with your Adams:
- People/things are simpler than they appear: Adam was the guy who troubled me in school. Eventually, I started painting several coats of unjustified-presumptions-paint all over his character. Ever since we are little, we’re never taught to use a ‘simple’ filter to see things. We are taught to add layers and layers of past experiences, judgements and assumptions. Complexity is appreciated and hence, our brains love overcomplicating things. People love complex words, logic, patterns. For example, we tend to think that there is probably an ulterior motive to why someone is being kind to you. In reality, there must be nothing. Or here’s a better example: Does this ring a bell?
- People/things can sense your vibrations: The reason why Adam never had a pleasant response was because I had no affability or warmth to offer to him. Inaugural communication is always unaided by words. Your vibes speak on your behalf. It’s pretty simple: Your negativity sparks the object/person’s nonchalance to ever reciprocate with enthusiasm. Hence, your relationship becomes like the latter half of a Marginal Utility Curve. Our approach to the situation overrides the situation itself. It works like a mirror.
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that”: Martin Luther King, Jr. (Deeeeeep. I know). It took me a long time to realize that the only way I could befriend Adam was by scrubbing off all the hate that I had for him. This principle works perfectly well with other situations as well. As counterintuitive as this sounds, the only way I could actually start liking Adam was by faking my admiration for him at the beginning. You constantly tell your brain that the person isn’t as bad, reevaluate their positives, seek for evidences to support it and over time, pretension translates into reality. I swear, it works!
- A little faith goes a long way: Now I don’t mean to sound like a pocket full of sunshine and roses, but just a teeny tiny bit of positivity can help you drive your car an extra mile. Bettering situations requires faith in the other person, more importantly, faith in yourself. Have confidence in your share of happy endings. Have confidence in your abilities.
- The upper berth is for empathy: When you dislike someone the way I disliked Adam, there is no space for understanding. Mind blocks get stronger than your Monday-morning-coffee. So the real struggle here is to tear down these mental obstacles. It takes a lot of time and effort, but breaking through these mental blocks feels emancipating. One way I did this was by letting Adam explain himself. If he was against the LGBT community, I’d allow him to express his view, even if I was at the other end of the opinion-see-saw. I realized that the ‘understanding’ process requires patience. Truck loads of patience. Toss those judgements away, a situation/person is not invalid or wrong if you fail to understand them.
- Eloping with your indifference never stops the problem from chasing you: Seriously though, life is not Temple Run. I was an expert at withdrawing myself from ANY situation that involved Adam. I didn’t care. Eventually, I became a pro at convincing myself that the problem did not require a solution. And that right there is a major problem. It’s like procrastinated homework: You’ve got to do it someday. So I put my foot down and worked on improving my relationship with him. My mental stamina had given up. For how long and how far could I keep running?
- Forgive and click the Refresh button: Adam had been a terrible person to me. He made me doubt myself. He made me feel incompetent. But was I going to give him so much power over me? Was I going to permit the past to haunt my outlook on the future? I gave Adam a second chance because it was mentally liberating for me. I brushed off my old, obdurate judgements and hit the refresh button. I’m so glad I opted for a clean slate.
I am really fond of Adam. He challenges my pre-existing beliefs, makes me think more, helps me get mentally stronger and sometimes, makes me laugh so hard. He taught me courage, rationality and emotional stability. He taught me to never argue for my limitations. Yes, at times, he continues to drive me insane, but that’s a byproduct of being in a relationship, right? I love how complicated his personality appears because the more you get to know him, the more you realize that he really is made up of simple, mind-blowing elements, too often, misunderstood and misjudged.
P.S: Did I mention that the Adam here is Mathematics in reality? (I skipped Math for two years and had to revisit the subject for my entrance tests) 😀