Have you ever noticed just how draining negative energy is? Complaining, gossiping, being jealous—the days I find myself caught in these circles, I come home exhausted and need a nap in order to make it through dinner. While it may be easy to complain, gossip and hate, the healthiest decisions are to love, forgive, and understand.
While eliminating these negative facets from my life is very difficult, it comes with great rewards; I am more productive, have more energy, and have stronger relationships. Here’s how to love your enemies and reap the same rewards:
Compliment your enemy.
It may be easier to spot what someone’s doing wrong, but try to compliment her or him when doing something right. It’s a sign of respect that can help bolster relationships.
Recognize your enemy’s strengths.
Focusing on people’s weaknesses can validate not liking them.
Instead of ruminating on how ugly her sweater is, how annoying her voice is, how incompetent she is at her job, flip the script and focus on your enemy’s strengths. Instead of reinforcing dislike, it builds camaraderie and respect.
See your enemy as human.
Often times when we create enemies, we dehumanize them by are making up nicknames for them, making fun of their nasally voice, looking at them as static and unchanging. Ultimately what all of this does is allow us to look at them as sub-human, and allows us to justify our hatred. Instead, recognize them as the fellow human they are–with assets, feelings and flaws, just like you.
Treat your enemy like you would a friend.
Once we make enemies, our natural tendencies are to turn our backs when they are talking, refuse to participate in their conversations, turn our noses up when we see them and exclude them from social activities. Instead, remember that all people should be treated fairly, no matter what the situation is.
Ask for a favor.
Benjamin Franklin once said the best way to friend your enemies is to ask for help. These kind of situations often stem from a power play, and by asking your enemy for a favor, you are therefore allowing yourself to be in a vulnerable position. By giving them an opportunity to help and build compassion, you’re stomping out negative vibes. Start with a small favor, such as holding open the door or signing a card for someone else to help shift dynamics into a more compassionate place.
Resist the temptation to gossip.
It’s natural: when we encounter another individual who has gossip on our enemy, we want to hear it. But talking trash is fleeting, and it typically makes us feel crappy afterward. So take the high road and don’t engage–it’s a move that will keep your conscious clean
Assume good intentions.
You never know what’s *really* going on with others, unless they tell you point blank. When unsure whether that stinky face was directed towards you, assume good intentions and try not to take things personally.
Say thank you.
“Please” and “thank you” go a long way, no matter who you’re dealing with. “Please” sometimes means “I’m in a position of vulnerability”, and “thank you” sometimes means “I’m recognizing your position of authority,” which are messages that anyone will positively respond to, whether they’re your friend or not.
Try to understand their viewpoint.
Often times, some of the largest wounds and dislikes towards people stem from miscommunication and misunderstanding. When we perceive someone having a different viewpoint or different lifestyle choice than our own, that difference threatens our sense of “truth”, and therefore, its easier for us to create enemies, ostracize them, Instead, take the time to consider their point of view. Do like Atticus Finch and remember, “You don’t know a person until you crawl around in their skin.”
And, above all, forgive.
Try a new mantra: Forgive. The world is a tough place to navigate–and we’re all just doing our best. Sometimes you’re hanging on by a thread and need people to cut you a break, so cut other people some slack when they’re not acting how you feel they should. There’s a saying that goes something like “resentment is drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” When all else fails, try forgiveness to eradicate the hate.
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