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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Make way! Make way for the King!": How to deal with conceited people

We've all met people like this at least once. The types of people that think they're "all that". The ones that think the world revolves around them. The people that assume others are in their service. The people that revel in the knowledge that they're handsome, beautiful, smart, tough, or powerful. The people that make it very much obvious that you should feel blessed to be in their wonderful presence. 

My friend told me a story about an incident at her apartment where another resident parked a junker car in my friend's assigned parking space. My friend left a note in the resident's mailbox....not a rude note, but one that asked very nicely for the resident to move the car so that she could park in her own assigned spot. This is where the proverbial sh*t hit the fan. The resident called the police and made a fuss about my friend threatening her, demanding my friend be arrested, and other ridiculous claims.

My friend is the type of person that doesn't like to cause or deal with conflict. so this is a hard situation as the other woman taunts her with phrases like "I'm not moving my car, what are you going do about it?" and "Its not over yet, Bitch". It has gotten to the point where my friend peeks out her door before leaving her own apartment, afraid that the other woman is waiting around, to taunt her more. The other resident has even gone so far as to rally other neighbors on her side, by padding the story, making my friend out to be the evil one. They gather around and laugh at my friend as she tries to find a place to park her car. They make it known that they're in control, and that everything works on their terms.

After hearing my friend's story, I was saddened. I too was there many times, tiptoeing around people not to cause conflict. I knew what it was like to have my self respect shattered to the point where I actually thought I was less than what I really was. I thought about how I allowed it to happen, and though about the hard work I put into patching my confidence and self respect. "You shouldn't have to live like this...." I asked my friend. "Where's the apartment manager in all this?"

"I don't know. I think I'm just going to move to another apartment. I think she waits for me every day to let me know there's nothing I can do about it...." she replied.

"...But then you'll let her take more of your power if you move..." I said.

She looked at me in a puzzled look. "This woman knows you're avoiding her." I added. "She knows she's got people on her side....she doesn't care that her side of the story is all lies. She's an energy-hog, and it seems that she thrives on the knowledge that she has power. But, the power isn't hers....its YOURS. She's taken your personal power. And, the more you feed it with your fear, with your checking if she's out there before you leave for work, when you avoid eye contact with her and rush away, you give her more power....and, feel more and more drained in the process".

Being that my friend is humble and non-aggressive, I continued with this comment: "I'm not talking about you turning into a hard-shelled "don't mess with me" person,... that's not what I mean about "power" here. Any amount of self-respect, confidence, and feelings of security you have, that's your power. You've allowed her to take a lot of it.....trick is, to gain it back."

"...But how do I not give it away? How can I get it back from this arrogant conniving lady?" my friend asked.

 In a nutshell, this is what I suggested, to deal with self-absorbed energy hogs:
  • Establish your boundaries. Know just how far energy hogs can approach before you start feeling that your space is being infringed upon. When they cross that boundary, it is time to nicely, but firmly, remind them not to "walk on the grass". Don't make the boundary too big, or you'll appear stand-offish. Don't make the boundary too small either, because you'll feel all the negativity, arrogance, and self-absorbed behavior in a big rush, and you'll get overwhelmed.
  • When your boundaries are breached, stand firm. Many times, a person who doesn't like conflicts, will allow their boundaries to be infringed upon, just so that the other person doesn't get angry. Well, where does that leave you? It leaves you frustrated and angry, and hiding these emotions just to avoid conflict, is not healthy for your emotional self. Mentally keep your boundaries at a clear line, and try not to convince yourself that making your boundary "smaller" makes you "braver".
  • Know that most arrogant people are looking for attention to be on them...regardless if it is positive or negative attention. This is where they feel powerful....they feel empowered by their ability to generate attention. There may or may not have self esteem issues, or they might feel that something is missing in their personal or emotional lives. Regardless of the reason, it is attention they seek. Know that there is some type of underlying reason why they are the way they are.
  • Don't settle for being in the shadow of their self-made pedestal. Allow yourself to be their equal. This doesn't mean to be as conceited as they are, but as long as you abdicate your position to a much lower one, they will drain more and more of your personal power. Know that they are people too....albeit overly egotistical people. This will level the playing field a little bit.
  • Keep calm and keep your attention on your own well being. If you give attention to these types of self-absorbed people, you'll place less attention on your own needs, thereby, "giving away your power". If you get angry, this is what some energy hogs thrive upon.
  • Let trusted people know of your concerns, especially if the arrogant person is making you fearful. It may sound counter-productive, as having other people know about the situation will give more "attention" to the arrogant energy-hog. But, having other people support you is helpful. Be sure to not follow the energy-hog's behavior by not padding your story and sticking to the facts.
  • Keep your circle of influence a positive one. Your "circle of influence" is our network of people that are upbeat, positive, good listeners, and willing to share positive information in areas of personal life, workplace, etc. These are people that support and respect your personality, likes, dislikes, etc. If you have more "good influence" and less "bad influence" (in this case, an arrogant, petty, and vengeful neighbor), then hopefully, the bad influence will take a backseat to the the positive influences.
  • Know that its okay to stand your ground. You don't permission from the energy-hog anyone to stand your ground and do what is necessary to keep your personal power. For every time you don't stand your ground to prevent conflict, you give away more of your personal power.
  • As well as personal and emotional space, keep your energetic space (on more of an aesthetic and metaphysical note): Keep your energetic "bubble" as confident and "warm" as you can. Your energetic space is one that is yours alone, and you're the only one that can make the choices as to who enters your space and contributes to it. Continue to be focused on your own well being, and allow your energetic space be a part of your safe-haven....protect it ardently.

Remember that no matter what the conceited person thinks of you, only you know the truth about how you really are. Try not to allow the conceited person to drain you of your self respect and don't allow their self-inflated egos to destroy your well being.

My friend now is confident, that if she does move from her apartment, that its based on  her own decision, instead of being forced out by an arrogant bully.  I only hope, that her personal power continues to be gained back from the bully, and continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

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