Whose control are you under?

Have you ever been hurt and not know how to react?  So when you meet again your wanting to retaliate may be right and legit. Hence a hard push back is easier than being your regular jovial self.


So what does one do when you accidentally meet eye to eye with this someone whose top talent is winding you up:

  • Act your regular sociable self?
  • Say “Just F--- you” after all, your reason is totally valid plus you’ll feel much better (this is not helpful).
  • Utilise your God-given ability to snub and sneer so push them away further.
  • Tell yourself ‘wait til the time is right’ one day in the future we’ll make up.
  • Wait for your worst wishes to befall them, then they’ll come crawling back.
  • Quickly cut all contact, just look away?

What can you do when you meet this other?

You’d rather be your happy self yet still you can’t forgive. You prefer animosity. Your hostile reaction is inbred, ingrained, a fixed mindset, how can you change? Even ambivalence is out of the question.  

Is this ever a picture of you? If so the other has the power, you’ve given it over. You're wasting all your energy.

How can you behave?

  • If their objective in life is to wind you up, be cordial in return (you may not want to, you may not even like them – what you’re doing is for you.)
  • Choosing to be your usual self will take back all your power and energy.
  • You don’t need to be all things to all people.
  • Set boundaries to clarify your responsibilities.
  • Impose consequences if boundaries are breached (even if it involves leaving a relationship temporarily). 
  • Remember, it is possible to detach from love.

We all know someone who makes life a strain, even if only for a moment (neighbours, ex-partners, even a ‘friend’). Mostly those we identify as ‘difficult’ share something in common: 

  • They like to be always right.
  • They like to point out your flaws until you feel criticised and tense.
  • You have nothing in common.
  • You are wary of their temper.
  • You find yourself walking on eggshells when they are near.

When working for Victim Support, it surprised me to learn crime rates in London between neighbours can make hostility towards one neighbour a significant nightmare.  

As a counsellor, I can see difficult relationships as another great source of stress. For those who are sensitive, dealing with difficult people can be extremely challenging. This difficulty can reach the point where it occupies your thoughts and impacts your quality of life. It is essential to have a plan for conquering these wasted moments of life and more importantly, help restore its quality.

Illustration of worried manHere are ways to help cope in difficult situations and help you feel more in control. It is essential to have a game plan for coping and it can include many of these points:

1. Remember this is how they behave with everyone

How they are with you is how they are with others, their behaviour has nothing to do with you. They may be ace at hiding their personality at times, at other times those who are closer will feel the brunt of their personality.  

When you realise their own history has a lot to do with their behaviour you may feel a sense of relief, understanding, even transformation.

Working with a counsellor may not directly control the behaviour of others but it will help you with your response and its impact.

2. Look after number one - yourself                              

If you are set to meet the one you dread, reward yourself.  Self-care is crucial and is one sure way to help lift your spirits and improve health. So if you’re in close proximity of your mega critical ‘other’ or vicious neighbour, plan a treat for yourself before and after.  

Many of us are not aware of how we react to stress (emotionally/physically/mentally). There are psychosomatic reactions to match our stress, neglect those areas and you may well suffer an appropriate response.

Take care of number one by:

Allowing tears, every night if necessary. Your body, heart and soul will thank you. Muscles will relax, anxiety will reach a new low, sleep is quite likely to improve. Your mind will clear as you drain stress away. Men especially prefer to dam up tears than feel the ‘shame’ of a cry. Cheat-watch a moving movie and unleash the emotions.

Exercise is wonderful for releasing stress. If you suffer from panic attacks, try your favourite exercise, whether it's running or yoga does not matter, both bring you close to calm.

Take a bath. Add bubbles or salts to help soothe your body/mind/feelings. Try mindfulness? While you breathe deeply and meditate your unconscious does the work.

Think about what is causing stress? Identifying the source of stress helps overcome the effects. By exploring the triggers and the reactions you may find a new tactic that helps solve/reduce the impact of the stress.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Muswell Hill N10 & Central London SE1
Written by Mary Mcilroy, BACP Accredited (Anxiety specialist). Bupa listed 30060387
Muswell Hill N10 & Central London SE1

I am a registered counsellor with the BACP covering: London Bridge/The City of London and Muswell Hill/London N10. Although I help people mainly with issues of anxiety and depression, I cover many other areas. Throughout your sessions with me, you will be listened to with empathy while you feel and see change happen as anxiety melts away.

Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Relationship problems

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals