I am the Bitch Eating Crackers, help me not care.
April 10, 2019 5:46 PM   Subscribe

A senior person in my current organisation has strongly taken against me. It isn't rational. It isn't my fault. I have had barely any interaction with him. He has a pattern of this kind of dislike of people. I am not the first and I won't be the last. I don't want help with the work situation-- I know what I need to do. I need help to stop ruminating about this guy and his irrational aversion.

I'm an old lady, and I've been in business a long time. I like to think I have a pretty thick skin. But this is really pushing my buttons in a way which is making it difficult to focus on what to do next.

It's true, there are consequences here, but I feel like I can navigate the consequences. What I can't navigate is this hidden piece of deep damaged little girl self which can't get over the fact that this guy doesn't like me. Which is completely ridiculous, but there you go! I'm even dreaming about it at night.

I'm normally a moderate ruminator, which has helped me along the way as a problem solving tool. I've generally got a pretty good balance between processing and action. This obsessive ruminator side is new and not very much fun.

Has this happened to you? How did you stop? Things I have tried:

Upped my walking time (helps some, but not as much as it usually does)
Pet my dog (helps some)
Found a therapist (so far not helpful, though it is helping me figure out why I am so triggered, which will probably help the next time a narcissistic boss targets me but not so useful now. sigh.)
Meditation (not helpful. am I doing it wrong? It seemed to make it worse.)

Any other suggestions? Please help me make my brain be quiet.

(Please assume I have a rational view of his level of dislike for me and that this is not an exaggeration. Please assume it really will not be helpful to talk to HR.)
posted by frumiousb to Work & Money (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you tried flipping the script?

Who is HE to not like YOU? You are a lovely, likeable person who does their job well. There is clearly something wrong with him. So what if he is in a 'senior' role? There are plenty of people who get to high positions who are raging idiots. This isn't about you, it's about him. He has a serious personality flaw and is acting like a child who found a food they don't like.

Since this isn't about you at all, you can treat him like an annoyance. You do your job, and when you have to interact with him you become the Ice Queen. Polite, professional, and oh so cold. Go about your business as if he was a spoiled kid you had to babysit. Don't sway on your professional or personal boundaries, but don't let his tantrums and jabs mean anything more than stupid, childish outbursts.

I've also found that when people like this start in on their garbage if I actually picture them as little children, Little Lord Fauntleroy for the men and Nellie Oleson for women, it helps too. To actually see them as being a brat is really satisfying.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:13 PM on April 10, 2019 [31 favorites]

+1 to TooFewShoes. Just as I treat people who unapologetically make offensive jokes as so obviously Wrong that they don't merit my attention or acknowledgement, I've found it feels better for me to take the same approach to that one person who hates me but I have to spend time with. Yeah it still hurts a little, it's normal and human to want to be liked or at least want to be not-disliked, but you can't take someone who's shown such bad judgement seriously.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:42 PM on April 10, 2019

Best answer: Hi, anxious ruminator here. Yoga and meditation have been incredibly helpful. If you do flow style yoga or even Kundalini, you cannot stay in that anxious headspace and do what you need to physically for the practice at hand. Linking breath with movement helps get out of the head into the body. The word "old" is relative so I won't assume your age but there's yoga for any fitness level. This is a good one for any body type.
posted by crunchy potato at 6:43 PM on April 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Loving kindness meditation helped with rumination a bit when I had similar issues, besides the more tactical "stay out of this person's way as much as possible." This was guided meditation with an instructor, might not hurt to try on your own or with a recording. If you already tried this variation ignore me.


Also, if you have any friendships you've been neglecting, try focusing attention on them. It's easier to deal with negative people at work when your personal relationships are thriving.
posted by ProtoStar at 6:46 PM on April 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

How do you feel about leaning into the role, somewhat?
This would mean being as nice to him as possible...
Being sure to greet him in the hallway..."Good Morning!" "Good Afternoon!" "Good night!"
Maybe work up to sitting next to him on purpose...just because you are that nice of a person.
Are you up to letting the uncomfortable feelings to be his?
posted by calgirl at 6:53 PM on April 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Meditation can make you more aware of your thoughts and feelings which can feel worse in a sense, but with practice you learn that you are not your thoughts. You start to experience some distance. Depends on the kind of meditation but in general mindfulness helps you learn this. I have thoughts but I am not my thoughts. I have feelings but I am not my feelings. I have sensations but they are just changing moments in the body neither good nor bad.

Oh look I'm having a thought of needing approval.

Oh look there's that little girl that got triggered. I notice she looks scared.

Oh look there's that feeling of tightness in my throat/belly/etc.

Oh how interesting there's a sensation of quickening in my chest and throat.

(The last one is an example of how to neutralize anxiety by breaking it into sensations that aren't good or bad.)
posted by crunchy potato at 7:02 PM on April 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

a fantastic woman I worked for once told me "not everyone you meet is going to like you. Just like you don't like every single person you meet."

It was wonderfully freeing.

(But she did also add the caveat that in some cases, antipathy was solvable with greater attention and adherence to social norms, and that I did need to make sure I was covering the appropriate professional bases. But no need to do backflips.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:45 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

He will eventually bring about his own downfall. Because of how many people he’s upset. Because someone who goes through life with such a destructive, stupid, cruel attitude alienates everyone around him and can’t interact properly with other humans. Mostly because it must be hell to live inside this guy’s head. The feeling he gives you: he is a thousand times more unhappy than that.

Maybe you appreciate revenge or vengeance less than I do. But (against my better angels) it comforts me to know this person who’s making me unhappy in such a completely unnecessary and counterproductive way is or will be far unhappier than I am.

There’s a saying that’s often wrongly attributed to Sun Tzu but that I still find to be true: “If you wait by the river long enough, eventually the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
posted by sallybrown at 7:54 PM on April 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

Try using your thoughts about his behavior to identify a pattern and then use the template to predict what will happen next so you can avoid him or redirect the ugly energy he sends your way. Identifying a pattern will also help you see it's not about you, but his need for domination and control. Donald Trump's a fine example in the public sphere.
posted by effluvia at 8:47 PM on April 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Enjoy the freedom. There’s nothing you can do to get this guy to like you, so you’re freed from needing to try. Be radically yourself because who cares you’ll never win this guy over. Enjoy! What a gift!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:32 PM on April 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I am in a somewhat similar situation. Currently my boss is miserable and tends to take it out on others. If I let her get to me, she can make the work day heavy and draining.

I definitely have had situations where my anxiety was obsessive.

When I’m not getting enough sleep or exercise depression and anxiety will surface.

Acceptance comes easier for me when I’m taking care of myself.

Other things:

Prayer and gratitude. I’m not religious and I don’t believe in a higher power. However, I find prayer helpful. I guess I’m a spiritual person. I believe in the harmony of the universe. I meditate and have a lot of thank-you prayers. Meditation doesn’t have to be formal. It can be done when you’re going into work, at your desk, or any time.

Meditation for me is awareness of the present moment.

In this moment you are fine. You’re not in danger and you’re not in the same room with your boss. Your mind creates problematic thoughts because that’s what it’s in the habit of doing. Your boss’s ego doesn’t like you. Your ego is manufacturing thoughts that make you stressed and anxious. Neither are real.

Yoga. I often arrive at the studio 20 minutes early so I can lie on my mat and chill and decompress. The lights are dim and there is peaceful music and I can breathe, focus on the moment, and empty my mind.

Destraction and finding something else to healthfully obsess over — Novels.

posted by loveandhappiness at 10:49 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Right now I‘m imagining you running into the guy, he glares at you, you stare him in the eye, go cross eyed and a massive fart escapes you.
Then you say, „Good morning Fergus!“ and cheerfully continue on your way.

I hope it will inspire you to come up with your own Fergus fantasies.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:27 PM on April 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This has happened in my workplace where someone of power terrorized their group and made us all miserable. He was never going to get fired.

We decided to treat him like a social experiment. We kept ourselves impassive despite his outbursts and would merely exchange glances at one another which drove him crazy. Our internal monologue would go: oh, this is the part where he plays the victim and blames someone else. Yup, now here comes the tantrum. Yup, now this is the part where he snarls at everyone.

It gave us back the power and it diminished our responses to him so he ended up dialing it back for periods of time. He hasn't really changed except maybe his tirades are a bit shorter but we all stopped ruminating over his behavior and questioning our own self worth.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 5:50 AM on April 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Hello! I lose my mind a little if I think someone might not like me. This is my real Achilles heel and I can waste a lot of energy and emotion on the situation.

Recently I have come up with the practice of a little dismissive mantra to sort of reset when I'm spinning out. Here are a few, each one is for a specific person:

"We're just not a match, it's fine"
"It's nothing to do with me"
"She's like that with everyone"

while these are concepts that are pretty commonplace, and could be just rational responses, I have deliberately crafted them for each person and I use them like a little spell actually intended to halt and disperse the useless thought spirals, so that when I notice the useless thought spirals I actually step back, take a breath, toss the mantra at it and do a little "so moving on!" shake to my attitude.

I find it helpful!
posted by Jenny'sCricket at 6:53 AM on April 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you tried a set ruminating time? Like at a certain time each day you consciously go through your rumination for a defined time period so that at other times you’re more able to let go at other times. Some people find that kind of thing helpful.
posted by plonkee at 9:18 AM on April 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

« Older How do you get leftist news and culture?   |   Soylent Pizza Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.