GO! Tend to the Thorns in Your Garden!

Posted on November 25th, 2008 by Clinically Clueless


In the United States,  we are beginning the holiday.  I started thinking (run, she is thinking again!) about all the people that we “have to go see.” (Well, the “have to” is another post)  How many of you like every person that you work, visit, or interact with including family.  No one, if they were honest, would have been able to answer, “everyone.” 


There comes the dilemma.  What do you do with aunt Sally who continues to call you her “sweet baboo” and you are 46 and not six anymore (not that you liked it then either).  Or sister Lucy who complains all the time or needs to be in charge.  Or Charles who just isn’t exciting to talk with.  The neighbor who talks about all the wonderful things that he has done in his life, but doesn’t listen to anyone else.  Your brother the minister and philosopher, who is a wonderful person, but eventually talks above everyones head.

Help, what do I do…?

Anyway, we all have people like this in our lives and others and face it we don’t like everyone.  When I was working in the social service field, I used to tell new people that “our job is to help our clients, but that doesn’t guarantee that you are going to like everyone.  It is a luxury to like all your clients, but usually not reality.  However, we still need to show them dignity and respect and listen.” 

What I use in my own personal and work life is to find one thing that you can like about the person.  Everyone, if you think hard enough, has one thing that you can like about them.  Maybe, it is that they try really hard, have good taste in clothing, makes that one dish really well or you like their haircuts.  Just one positive thing and not a negative turned into a positive.  One thing that you can outright say that you like about them.

Then, the trick is to try to focus on that as you get to know them better.  Usually, as I get to know someone better, I understand them better and why they act the way that they do.  Then, I might even start liking them.  This usually works for  me except some situations.   I’m still working on especially with family.   Just like everyone else.  

In most situations, what I do is I start thinking about why they are the way they are and focus on that.  I guess, I take a step back and become clinical or just look at the situation with some distance.   It is usually some inner hurt or wound being covered up with thorns.  But, thorns still hurt even if we understand them, so you also need to take care of yourself.

Flora 2000: Be Happy Bouquet

It does help both my husband and myself to be a wee bit more compassionate and patient.  But, there are times when I have to turn away or walk out which is perfectly acceptable.  Take care of yourself and have a good time at the holidays.

Do not spend time with someone who is abusive including verbally or emotionally either speak up or walk away or don’t go in the first place.  I suggest discussing this with someone you trust first because you need to be prepared for the consequences.   If nothing else, at least it is a time limited interaction and you can remind yourself.  Going for a walk with someone or by yourself is a good thing to do when it gets to be too much.  Remember, you are never trapped.

But, spend most of your time with the people that you want and make you happy.  And, if you can’t run…remember, you can always focus on that one thing.  It just makes life a little easier.  At least, this is what I try to do.  I’m still working on a few relationships. 

Searching for the things you can like about someone will take your focus off all the things you may dislike and there may be lots of fuel.  And, it is okay not to like someone.  This is only meant to be helpful it you want to try.   I still do complain which is just being yourself and with all your feelings. I hope this help some of you to have a different perspective and helps you to enjoy your time together with others better. (Okay…I like aunt Sally’s cookies, I like aunt Sally’s cookies and I do love her hair…)

How do you handle being with people including family who you don’t like or are difficult to be around?  Share some tips.

All thoughts, comments, complaints welcome!!!

21 Responses to “GO! Tend to the Thorns in Your Garden!”

  1. Lil'thoughts says:

    :) Happy thoughts. Stay busy, I say a prayer, it always works for me.

  2. Lil’thoughts,

    I like that!! :-) Does it always work for you?


  3. Lil'thoughts says:

    When I’m right with God it always works. People are never as they seem, and our view changes depending on our attitude. Are we looking for problems or are we going to be happy. Life is always better when I think positive. God created them as he did us. He also loves them as he loves us. We are all here together. Just as someone else left a comment, on a recent post, might have been you. “That we are here to help one another.” Maybe it’s just a smile, or a hug, or listening. Helping doesn’t always have to be labor intensive. Love is patience, kind, etc….

    • Lil’thoughts,

      Yes, but there are real problems between people. It doesn’t mean that you don’t try to love them, but it can make for some very difficult and highly emotionally distressing situations. For me, what I have found that in terms of the Fruit of the Spirit, patience, kindness, compassion… is that that comes naturally out of my relationship with God. It isn’t something that I strive for, it is natural.

      I hope this doesn’t offend you, but I am curious because Christians and others say this all the time. But, what does being right with God mean to you? You don’t have to answer, but I think that it helps to clarify it objectively and not subjectively.

      And, yes I think I wrote a post like that. :-)


  4. Jim says:

    LOL on liking the haircuts CC! Just had mine done so here goes!

    Being an expatriate living here in Dubai seeing family is a rare occurrence so absence makes the heart grow fonder is often the case – as timnes change, people change and relationships changes I’m learning that the ‘least said, soonest mended’ during any misunderstandings and as family are a few thousand km away email and the phone is all it takes…..

    Focusing on the positive, common ground and how you can learn from another person works for me – as a bar tender the rudest people often made me smile more as it was a lesson in how not to behave! ;-)

    • LOL!!! Bartender…interesting. You do love to people watch. On an interesting note, my body reacts to wine and champange where even with a sip, I faint. However, with the mixed drinks I am usually okay, but I found out that I actually lack the enzyme for me to metabolize it properly. Bottom line I can’t drink. Bartender!!

      Great comments and I just got my hair cut Saturday!!

    • Jim,

      Did you notice the happy flowers…They are Flora 2000. I just love how those look.


  5. A/C says:

    Interesting question…
    Well we sorted the problem of family and friends we didn’t like and didnt want to be around…

    WE MOVED 2500KM away….
    told them visit anytime…. and they didnt .. YIPPEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I like the solution!!! Unfortunately, the one that I have the most difficulty with lives the closest. I know that through my healing process that it will change.

      • A/C says:

        If they live to close then MOVE

        You have no idea how liberating it is to just pack up and move somewhere you have never been, to place where no ones has a clue who you are…. its great….

  6. Lil'thoughts says:

    For me to be right with God is praying daily, reading scriptures, helping family and friends. Oh, I think I see what your saying now. but for me I have to work at it. As for you, your very lucky that it comes naturally, cause I’m not always good at those things at all times.

    • Lil’Thoughts,

      Since I became ill six years ago and haven’t been able to attend church, Bible study or read my Bible, my perspective on “being right with God” has changed. First, I realized that I am right with God because of Jesus. However, there are things that are helpful in my relationship with Him.

      I do pray, but not like I used to set time to just pray. This started changing before I became ill. It has to do with Practicing His Presence which is a Christian classic. I talk with God throughout the day. When I say I’ll pray for you, I do it then, but not aloud. It is like He is a constant presence. Then, there is a mindful/meditative type of “praying.” However, it differs in that it isn’t about just clearing my mind because once I do that it is more of being in His presence only and listening to what he wants to tell me.

      I have to work at it too. And, it is about being mindful of His presence and knowing His will and if it matches scripture. However, knowing his will is difficult, but I am learning more and more to discern what is my want and His will. Usually, if I want to argue about it, it is His will. :-) Out of that comes the Fruit of the Spirit.

      I’ve been an active Christian for 27 years now and I’ve learned more and more that “being right with him” has been settled through Jesus. However, the things you mention add structure and discipline and now I’m moving into new areas which do not feel as safe and familiar. Oh, I consider my self a non-denominational Protestant Christian. To me it doesn’t matter, as long as in your heart, words and deeds as long as the bottom line of who is Jesus to you is answered correctly. I think that the church has lost its way because the bottom line is the most important.

      Thank you for continuing to discuss this with me.


  7. Lib says:

    Well I’m very lucky CC, I have a very small immediate family (literally nuclear) and most of the time I am very pleased to be around them.

    Its the old saying isn’t it, you can choose youe friends but you can’t choose your family.

  8. Ange says:

    Hi CC, I have got to the stage that anyone I really don’t want to spend time with I don’t anymore. My family and only a few close friends is all I stay in contact with on a regular basis. The ones that weren’t helping me to grow as a person, I slowly saw less and less of so it’s not an issue anymore. I’ll be thinking of you these holidays. Enjoy what you can and don’t stay around those others too long :) Bless

    • Yes, I think I am reaching that point. But, the problem is that in my family it is my mother that I don’t want to have contact with.

      • Ange says:

        I know what you mean about mothers. Mine calls me on the phone just to “dump” her stuff on me and I laugh it off and when I’m off the phone, I shake it all away so that I’m not attached! I know she needs to do this and I listen to her and when it’s done, then we can have some kind of a normal conversation. It’s her way of letting me know she loves me I guess… keeping me in the loop!

        The only thing I can say is to see her when you absolutely have to and don’t hang around too long. You’ll work it out. Seeing how far you have come, it’s another challenge. Perhaps you can look at it from a different perspective? If you let her get to you, she will. Sending you BIG HUGS (((((HUGS)))))

        • Thank you Ange. This post didn’t turn into what I want, but oh well. I got people thinking.

          I get the thing with perspective and my mother, but part of the problem is that she is ignoring, directly hostile or passive-aggressive with me. But, my husband and I are not going to Thanksgiving because I can’t handle it right now. However, I am planning to go for Christmas.


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