I had a guy come in the bar I hadn’t seen in months. I used to think he was my friend.
That illusion didn’t last long.
He tosses money around like it’s nothing. Nobody knows where it comes from. Theories range from lottery winnings to drug dealing. This guy likes to insinuate there’s mafia involved. If I believed every guy from Chicago that hinted at their mob connections, then the entire city would be mob connected. He tosses the idea out there when someone says something he doesn’t like. It’s a veiled threat.
I don’t know where the money comes from. I never figured it out. However, it didn’t take me long to figure out what the money gets used for. The cash buys people. It manipulates people who need it. It creates a sense of obligation. It buys drugs and alcohol for people who shouldn’t have it. It’s a mechanism to work games.
This guy doesn’t like it when he gets exposed. It took some time, but that’s exactly what I did. He was trying to play puppet master with people I care about. I had to cut the strings.
That’s why he was back in my bar that night. He wasn’t happy. He insulted everyone I cared about. He made comments about my oldest daughter being attractive in a way that would make your skin crawl. She’s Fifteen. He subtly suggested violence would find it’s way to me. He was trying to jab in any way he could.
It’s unfortunate. Like I said, he used to be a friend. Alcohol and drugs changed him.
All I could do was deal with every emotion as it cropped up. I managed the spikes of anger as they stabbed from deep within. I stayed calm, and sent the guy packing.
Two Wolves Within Every Heart
There’s an old Native American tale that had an impact on me growing up.
The story says there are two wolves living inside your heart.
One wolf is angry, snarling, and ready to attack. This is the wolf of hate. It’s the wolf that separates us from each other. It’s the wolf that feeds prejudice and violence.
The other wolf is relaxed. This wolf is peaceful. You could lay next to this wolf without harm. This wolf would protect you. It’s the wolf of love and kindness.
These two wolves are locked in a fight with each other. They wrestle for control in the heart of every man, woman, and child. The winner is decided by which wolf you feed every day.
Peacekeeping is NOT Pacifism
I walk a fine line of personal development and martial arts.
I have no desire to fight. I will not be poked and prodded with ego challenges that result in violence. That does not mean I will stand idly by and be physically attacked or watch as you assault someone I love.
I was never in any danger from that guy insulting me or my friends. I have had people call me a “pussy” and “bitch” in a feeble attempt to assault my identity. It’s the usual way most monkey dances start. All you have to do is walk away.
In the real world, violent people tend to attack without warning. Name calling comes after the sucker punch.
This is about handling your emotions. Shitty people want you to feel shitty. They’re not usually looking for a fight.
Choose How You Want to Respond
It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a drunk uncle or an asshole in the bar. The emotions can get out of control if you allow it to happen. Here are some keys to remember.
- Don’t Take it Personal: This might be the hardest thing to do. It’s important to remember that all of the negativity, the problems, the insults, and the verbal attacks are over there. All that shit exists in them. Not you. These are not your problems. Don’t allow someone else to decide your self-worth. So what if you’re being called names? Don’t dance. The only thing that happens when you roll around in the shit is you get covered in shit. You know you’re awesome. Act like it.
- Keep to the Facts: Don’t try to analyze why someone is being shitty. Just stick to the information in front of you. They’re angry. They’re snarling. They’re name calling. There will be accusations. All of it is their distorted view of reality. Calm them down or walk away. Go straight towards help if you think they could be violent, drunk, or on drugs. Don’t try to analyze. Make your personal safety priority.
- Stay Calm: This is key. Dissociate yourself from the situation. This is easier by paying attention to only the facts. Do not sink down to their level and play their games. You may even diffuse the situation by remaining calm. Force yourself to take a deep breath. Exhale longer than you inhale. This will trigger a calming response from your brain. Continue repeating this breath until you feel yourself regaining control.
- Have Empathy: Have you ever had bad days? Weeks? We all have. You don’t have to be a door mat for anyone. You should understand there are reasons they ended up this way. Having empathy can help keep your own emotions in check. It’s definitely a better option than anger. You don’t need to carry around emotional baggage from the encounter.
- Practice “Not Hate”: Compassion has become a buzz word. Some people make compassion hard to give. You don’t have to be Buddha, Jesus, or Gandhi. Scale back compassion to just not hating this person. You can be assertive and still maintain degree of warmth. You may not want to give them a hug, but you shouldn’t have to punch them in the nose. Try not hate.
- Ignore Them: The best option is walking away. Do not engage. Do not entertain them. Just ignore them. Life is short. Play with those who play well with others. Drama, negativity, and shitty people will drag you down. The want to drown you in their problems. They want to blame you and everyone else for all the wrong choices they made. Just ignore them. Don’t even talk about them in gossip. Don’t call. Don’t write. No contact. Get better people in your life.
Is any of this easy? That depends on the person you’re dealing with. It can be hard to accept a former friend is shitty people. It’s easier to dismiss a rude stranger. A slight insult from someone we love can cut deep. It’s all subjective to your reaction.
You must remember that your mind is under your control. You choose how you feel. Don’t give that power to anyone else.
May You Do No Harm …Unless You Must
The guy I talked about in the beginning of this post couldn’t help himself. He returned to the bar. Again. This time he scanned the parking lot to make sure that neither I nor one other guy was there. We are the only two people who will stand up to him.
He found the car he was looking for. The car belongs to one woman that he feels disappointed him. Her crime? Not doing what he told her to do, and making up her own mind about other people based on facts.
He knows he can intimidate her. He knows he can scare her. That’s exactly what he did. He drove her into a panic attack before anyone knew what was going on. Thankfully, the other guy that will stand up to him was working. It didn’t take long to get the puppeteer out of the building. Unfortunately, some damage had been done.
It’s easy to get angry over this. But that would feed the wrong wolf.
Shitty people have their hearts full of poison. They ultimately undo themselves. It’s clear to me that this guy will end up in prison if he continues down this road. I hope he finds his way to good health and sound mind before that happens. But as far as I’m concerned, love doesn’t live here anymore.
He’s officially on the ignore list.
The next time someone asks you, “Hey did you hear about so-and-so?”
Your reply should be short and sweet.
“Who? That’s nobody I know.”