Sunday, 6 October 2013


Regular readers of my waffle know that I'm big on the idea that you can't change other people but you can change how you react to them. I have discovered that while people often agree with me (and have more or less success with doing it) some are not really understanding the process.

OK. Let's look at what's going on here.

There is a person who behaves in a way that annoys you on an ongoing basis. You have checked and double checked and the problem really is him, and not you. He definitely has a behaviour (or several) that is hard to deal with because it causes you actual problems. It's not just a matter of you being sensitive. We will call this person Herbert.

Now, for whatever reason, you cannot simply avoid Herbert. He is part of your life, like it or not. Either you are related to him, or you work with him, or you live next-door to him, or for whatever reason, you are stuck with him being there.

And, he's not actually doing anything illegal. There is nothing you can do to force him to behave.

You have asked, nicely, for him do X instead of Y, or stop doing Z, and he either refuses, or complies only partially or temporarily, or in some way just won't co-operate. You have tried everything within your power, in fact, to get him to compromise, and help the situation, but he won't, or can't....whatever.....he doesn't.

Herbert is a pain in the arse.

You discuss Herbert with somebody else. That somebody tries to help by saying "don't let it get to you". And you wish it didn't, but it does.

We've all known a Herbert. He may be a single-act Herbert, such as the Herbert who always uses your parking space, or the Herbert whose cat uses your flower bed as a toilet. Or he may be an all-round Herbert, who drives you crazy in many and various ways due to his crass thoughtlessness, or even deliberate attempts to get at you.

If you have a sense of humour you may fantasize killing Herbert, by putting his photo on a dartboard.

Or you could go right the other way and try this:

One thing is for sure, if it has come to either of these then Herbert has gained power over you.

Are you going to allow that?

Herbert is a force of nature. He doesn't care about you. He is really no different to the weather. He is going his own sweet way, because he is not an aware person. If he was he wouldn't behave like that. Aware people could not cope with being that annoying. As soon as it is brought to their attention that they are causing problems to others it becomes important to them, even if they decide they are not really in the wrong. Aware people WANT to compromise. Ergo, Herbert is not an aware person.

Therefore you are wasting your time and your energy trying to change him. It is like trying to change the weather. The best you can hope for is that the rain will leave off eventually.

Does it makes sense for you to get all bent out of shape about the weather? Get yourself totally stressed out over it? Let it ruin your day?

And yet this is what you ALLOW Herbert to do. Even though your reaction won't change anything.

OK, so you have been badgered enough by people like me and you finally tell yourself that you choose not to let Herbert get under your skin.

That's not enough, actually. Choosing is only the first step. I've seen lots of people choose that, and all they do is repress feelings...which eventually burst out in a fit of rage.

It's no different to any fake-it-til-you-make-it plan. If you are only resisting the urge to kill Herbert, or pretending that you don't care what he does, you still do. Clouseau drove Dreyfus mad.

If all you do is try to avoid worrying about Herbert, avoid talking about Herbert, and avoid complaining about Herbert, you are actually obsessing over Herbert.

What you must do is acknowledge Herbert. He exists. He behaves badly. But you must also acknowledge that this is an exchange of power. All the time you crave power over him, he gains power over you.

You have to let go of the fact that that you are wronged by him. Not just say you will, but actually do it. You have to pay less attention to him. Do whatever is possible to prevent him actually causing you real harm, and then shrug him off like a wet day. He isn't going to change.


  1. We all have Herberts (Herbertia)in our lives. I used to obsess over it, tried to work changes, either through trying to modify H's behaviour or modify my own, depending on the situation. Finally, after being treated like a whipping post, one too many times, I decided that life is too short to be bothered worrying about the Herberts or Herbertias and I simply close the door on them. Okay, sometimes it is an actually slam but regardless, the door is closed.

  2. Nice observation. One of the most effective way to get Herbert out of your system is to use EFT. Amazing for all kinds of conditions.