You are in an elevator, a stranger walks in. First floor, second floor, third floor. You hear bodily sounds, stranger farts. Elevator keeps going, fourth floor, fifth floor, now you can barely breathe, it’s just horrible, simply terrible, just the worst. How could they? why would they?
You could slap this stranger, you could punch them, curse them out maybe, mean mug them, even strangle them. I mean things can escalate quickly. How could they? why would they?
You were at peace, a peace disruptor, that is, the stranger, an instigator, someone who is trying to make you act out of character enters your space and does their natural bidding.
If you hang in there, if you could only hang in there, fifth floor, sixth floor, seventh floor, eight floor maybe ninth floor and you are out of the elevator and you’d never see this stranger again.
But of course, you could stop at the third floor and take the stairs, you could take another elevator, you could hang in there, either way, you’re now subjected to discomfort and/or pain simply by the existence of an unapologetic person.
The elevator is an example and can mean various things to different people but the concept being shared is that you can be openned to uneasiness not because of anything you did right or wrong but because you came in contact or shared space, time, place of work with someone who’s an instigator. How you handle the situation is paramount to the effects of their behavior.
If you acknowledge them, you give them a sense of accomplishment. The more you do to “correct” them, to change them, discipline them, or insult them, the more permanent that memory becomes.
Don’t misunderstand, it is tough to remain still, to be in control of self and endure a foul where you’ve done nothing to deserve or encourage foul treatment. This is different from OPM, I’ve shared a few concepts around other people’s mistakes. This is instead a person being nonchalant with no concern of it’s impact on those who have to share space, life, or environment with them. It affects just the same as OPM, if not worse. How you respond determines the impact.
There was one time, this was about two years ago, I went grocery shopping with my family and there was a grocery store employee who was determined to do the most, the employee was being unnecessarily rude to me at the entrance of the store. Anyway, we walked past him and did our shopping. When we got back to the car I asked everyone in the car one question, I had initially asked myself the same question while at the store but I did not like my answer.
I asked them, “how easy is it for someone to ruin your day?” My family is smarter than me, they answered “not easy”. I smiled because I know for me it is too easy for someone to ruin my day. It’s not them, it’s me. My ignore game, my let it go, my “forget about it” is not where it should be.
So I ask you, how easy is it for someone to ruin your day? Are you struggling like me, or are you divine like my family?
Back to the stinking elevator, if you feel disrespected and feel the disrespect deserves or demands a response and you think it appropriate to slap them, curse them, punch them or maybe even strangle them, you’ve now turned what could have been an easily forgotten past, into what would be a long lasting memory far into your future. Even worse, you could turn a “forget about it” into a future changer — apparently, you don’t go scot-free if you strangle a person.
This concept has been bubbling somewhere in my head since I was reintroduced to a question: “Did you have a terrible day or did you have a terrible 5mins that you allowed to ruin your day?”
Everyone don’t get along. That’s as true as the sky is blue. You will not gel with certain people but vice versa, certain people would not enjoy your company, and that is ok, that is just alright.
Now, there are those people, those who go out of their way it seems to make things difficult for you, to intimidate, or piss you off or talk down at you. People who instigate you to act out of character.
(After I wrote this, I watched the movie: Uncle Drew, classic instigator story)
These are the ones to be mindful of because sometimes before you realize what’s happening you’re already responding to their actions, digging yourself deeper into their spider web.
The easier you can identify such a person, the better for your safety. The easier you can identify such a person, the sooner you can avoid and run.
Years ago, I worked for a particular company, our department was not a lot of people but a group of quality people. In the sense that a small department produced high performance. Tight knit group, good bond, good work chemistry. Then a person joins the team. The atmosphere changes for the worse, we start quitting, leaving, changing departments, one by one because of one person, the lives of multiple people were affected.
This was the first time as an adult I got introduced to this idea of certain people are toxic, not in the new age meaning of the word but in the dictionary meaning, that is, some people are poisionous.
There are people like that, unfortunate people who come in and a beautiful experience goes to sheet. They walk into a room and everyone else leaves, one by one. They open their mouth and the air dries out.
Some will do their very best to poke at you for you to snap, don’t give in. Robert Greene calls them the unlucky, he also says, run, don’t walk, run from them. It might seem like they’re picking on you and you might want to defend yourself, believe me, they are not real, your action however can make them become real and entangle you with them. Elevator rides might seem like they take forever especially stinking elevator rides but believe me, elevator rides don’t last long, soon this cause of irritation would not be a part of your day. Soon, it would be an easily forgotten past.
I’m reminded of a documentary about a celebrity who was talking about their early experiences with fame. They mentioned how they did not know certain people make careers from instigating famous people.
Said people would have a camera rolling, say nasty things to the famous person, they’ll do and say whatever they can just for the famous person to hit them, and once that happens, there goes a law suit.
Ever seen a basketball player jump into the stands, going at the throat of a fan who shouted insults or threw a drink at the player? it happened more back in the day, now they train athletes to simply ignore and at most report to the referee.
Even professional boxers get instigated because some looney wants to be knocked out and the boxer sued, anyways these are examples of different forms of instigation.
I write this in a sense encouraging myself to hang in there, when two people act crazy, people watching cannot differentiate the crazy one from the sane one. This stranger is not real, they’re not a part of your life, they will soon be no more.
Endure the elevator and leave them in your past. For people you work with, identify how to have the least amount of contact then implement that. You have to form a plan on how to separate yourself from their foulness.
You have to prepare yourself to remain calm, ignore stupid remarks, stay focused on the main thing and remove yourself as soon as you can.
And for other areas of life, same advice. Identify this people the best you can, do not engage at all cost, again, do not engage. Stand up for yourself, yes, but do not acknowledge, that’s like giving them air to breathe.
Weirdly enough, these instigators act “crazy”, well some of them, act crazy because they want to be noticed by this person and maybe be friends with this person.
How does a sane person think throwing a drink at a basket baller would make both of them friends? While it might not reach the end result of becoming friends, if the basketballer does pounce on them, it is in a messed up sense a form of validation.
They’ve made it into the psyche of the basketballer. He would think of them. Maybe know their name, when a lawsuit is filled. Their lives might be intermingled even for a short while. Super messed up.
While we are not all professional basketballers, there are instigators on our level. People trying to get you to throw a fit in public, do not allow yourself be frustrated by a nonentity. Harsh but real.
Like the ref says, protect yourself at all times. Identify, separate and run.
I’m hanging in there. An inconveniencing five minutes cannot be allowed any longer to ruin my entire day. It should no longer be easy for anyone to ruin my day.
There’s no point paying any mind to a stranger I would never see again. if you can go sit somewhere else, go sit somewhere else.
If you can join a different team, join a different team, if you can work around them, then do that. You have options to limit the interaction, find it.
Acknowledge they’re acting stupid, accept they’re instigating you for a catch 22, sinking sand response and move on.
I hope you are filled with patience, a present mind and concepts of this writing, the next time someone decides to try you.
Protect what becomes strong memories. Be better at taking care of yourself.