Friday, August 14, 2009

Giving myself permission to not like everyone

Yesterday's meeting was a good one. The topic was about being powerless and having an understanding of what that means.

What I want to write about though is my own self-centered behavior. There is a lady who comes to this meeting only occasionally. She describes herself as a senior transplant from the northeast. She shares that she hasn't made many friends. Ordinarily, this would generate a lot of compassion, but I have to admit that she has a way of sucking the air out of the room when she shares.

Yesterday, she interrupted another member who wanted to share. She said that she needed to go first because there was something that was pressing on her mind. It was a very long share that resulted in her being cut off by the chairman. At the end of the meeting, she turned to me and asked if she could talk to me for just 5 minutes. I said sure and said that we could sit down and talk. She wanted to go outside the room because she didn't want others to hear what she had to say. I had no clue what it was about but figured that she wanted to talk more about her share.

Many in the group were planning to go to lunch to celebrate my Al-Anon birthday. My sponsor was waiting on me. I knew that the lady was long winded and to be honest, I find her off putting. I hesitated for a moment, but then said that yes I would talk with her. Several people then came over and started talking to me about lunch and giving congratulations. The lady was getting agitated at all this and was looking displeased.

Another member of the group saw the dilemma and came over saying that she would take the lady outside for a discussion. I felt this wave of relief wash over me. And immediately felt shame because I had not wanted to talk to her. I had said that I would but knew that I simply didn't want to have an intense discussion with her at that time.

The strange thing is that she came to lunch about a half an hour later with the member who had stayed to talk to her. And she seemed to have an enjoyable time. I was grateful for that.

My response to the situation bothered me and made me reflect on my behavior. I realize that we each have shortcomings. And there are going to be people with whom I simply don't mesh. There must be something that I recognize in her that triggers some discomfort in me. I don't like when this happens, but I'm glad that I recognize it. I am not sure whether this is being self-centered, or whether I can simply give myself permission to not like everybody. I am grateful that there was someone there who had a gift to give to this person that clearly I didn't have at that time.

I guess the Al-Anon closing sums it up: "After a while, you'll discover that though you may not like all of us, you'll love us in a very special way—the same way we already love you."


  1. Ah Syd, I totally get this!

    Yesterday for a brief moment I got my feelings hurt by a stranger, I was walking down a busy sidewalk, there was a disabled person with crutches trying to get around a man and a group of three other people, I stopped not being able to continue going around until after the man on crutches got by me and then proceeded, I was in a hurry and bumped the one in the group and someone shouted to me "walk aaround lady", which I had done... but then I let it go after realizing they probobly are so wrapped up in their own stuff the did not see me, or the guy on cruthces trying to get around them...and that is OK.

  2. I think you hit on something important Syd. People who have not been affected by alcohol and drugs do not understand why it is so hard for us to admit we don't like someone. My husband has no problem saying "I don't like him..." but I am always trying to find the good in people on some level, and rationalizing why I have to be nice to people who I'd rather not spend my energy on. It wasn't until I came to Al-Anon that I realized that this was a co-dependent thing, and the rest of the world doesn't function this way.

  3. Having been in similar situations, I can appreciate your share and your perspectives. When I am healthy I do roughly what you did. Other times, I'm not so, well, good...

    I get that everybody has their days - including me...

    Blessings and aloha...

  4. Syd,
    I just posted about chatty people the other day. My mom used to say that some people will not like you no matter what you do, and some people will like you no matter what you do. Maybe it all comes out in the wash.

    I guess it's okay not to like a person, but it's not okay to treat them without decency and respect. I am sure you are decent to everyone.

    Love you!


  5. Your perspective on things is fantastic...and on any other day I'm betting you're giving her your time and listening, regardless of any like or dislike.

  6. Reminds me of a quote usually attributed to Freud, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

    And yes, I don't like the character defects of some people but then, I don't like my own, either!


  7. Love this post Syd. I still have trouble with trying to MAKE myself like someone. I have to remind myself that it is okay that I don't click with everyone.

  8. Happy Al-non Birthday Syd,, Congrats. I am one who has on occassion been told, " why do yo bother talking to this person" when the person in question is not well liked, out spoken, whatever. They tell me I am to friendly. well that is just how I am. I agree we do not have to like everyone as, I know, not everyone likes me.
    I don't think we have to like everyone we meet. I think it's important to always be respectful, but you don't have to agree with what they say or do, or want to spend time with them. You treated her respectfully, I think she was being disrespectful to the group and you.
    Have a great weekend. Keep your head high. SMILES

  9. Some days I can listen to someones problem, but other days I don't have the patience. Especially if they have been having the same problem over and over, and never seem to be grow. That really frustrates me, because no matter what I say it will not make a difference. The next week they will still be stuck in the same place. It seems they want a magic pill, but do not want to do any work. I have accepted that I'm not well suited to listen to those kind of people.

    It was obviously your special day, I think it was rude of her actually. But you handled it great.

  10. Great post, Syd! I really could relate to this one because I'm really a people person so I often find that I don't like a lot of people, something that bothers me as I'm trying to be more and more positive. I do what I can to look for the good in people, but I find that it's best sometimes to just accept the way I feel and give myself permission to not like everyone.

  11. Hi Syd!

    To like or not to like - - -
    To love or not to love - - -

    Many years ago, Al-Anon clarified for me the meaning of the two above statements; well, my sponsor was also a big help, since she had many prejudices, and through her I learned how to take what I like and leave the rest.

    There is nothing written anywhere - - - in Scripture (whatever religion) in philosophy, etc., etc., that says we must like all other human beings. I have heard during my visits to open AA meetings, some of the AA individuals introduce themselves as, Hello, my name is Joe, and I am a child of God." I questioned him after the meeting, since he was the only member who expressed this; and he told me that he as well as I - have to right to make a personal introduction as a choice. He quickly informed me of his alcoholism, but just as quickly informed me that he saw no need in declaring it to the world; however, he was very grateful to call himself a child of God, since it is suggested to all of us seeking recovery to 'love' - - - but nowhere does it say I have to 'like.'

    Besides, I truly believe that my internal alarm which keeps me safe from any type of unwanted confrontation or upset - - - this is a defense mechanism I have kept since childhood; in Al-Anon this feeling has been tempered by the steps and traditions, which have shown me (as well as my sponsor) other ways to handle inappropriate behavior from others, or in your case, unidentifiable internal feelings that arose from meeting this person.

    Seems to me that your Higher Power was extremely present with you all day yesterday! The program presented was about powerlessness - analagous to the might of the sea which you love so much; then after this person asked to speak with you privately, you were gently and lovingly overwhelmed (Higher Power busy here I think - again) - by others wishing you well on your Al-Anon anniversary. Another member immediately rose to talk with this other person, thereby relieving you of your offer to stay and listen. Several of you went to lunch nearby; and lo, who should appear a few minutes later were the rescuer and the newcomer! Now, I just don't see how much plainer the message can be here - - - God took care of something you were not able to!

    So, I think you should let yourself off the hook; tell your sponsor how you felt; see if it comes from a 'different or unhealthy place' - - - or was it simply a fluke - a warning that YOU were not intended to be the spiritual guide for this newcomer!

    Happy sailing!

    Anonymous #1

  12. I am a recovering "people pleaser" and "perfectionist". When I am in the people pleasing mode it's hard to take care of myself.

    You have me thinking about myself with this post. Some people are just plain not healthy for me to be around. Does that mean there is something in me that needs correction? Probably so, but I still need to honor how I feel. I try to do this in a nice way.

    I think the Al-Anon closing does sum it up pretty well. I also think God took care of your situation just perfectly.


  13. Some people set off my "vampire" alarms. Life force sucking! Luckily there was someone there to swoop in and save you! I am one of those people who has no trouble not liking everyone. My sister says I'm mean. I think she's right!jeNN

  14. I have started this comment several times and erased it because no matter what I write it sounds trite. Suffice to say your HP was guiding things around that event, letting you celebrate. Your friend rescued you, the woman must have ended up getting what she needed. Everyone enjoyed lunch. Sounds like it all went just like it was supposed to.

    I will say that no matter what, I will never have it in me to like everyone. It's just that simple.

  15. If Adolph Hitler were in my group, I think I wouldn't like him. That doesn't mean I have Adolph-like stuff that I haven't dealt with. It means I don't like Adolph Hitler. I still have to love him though... but wouldn't want to hang out with him.

  16. Every time you see her, you know how she's going to behave, rudely. So, I think it's just fine to save yourself the grief.

  17. I have found that the kinder I am to people I do not like, the more likable they clue how that one works...must be a God thing. Happy 3 years of freedom!

  18. oh gosh no! it's IMPOSSIBLE to like everyone. don't think or worry about that twice. it happens....

  19. I don't like her either Syd, 'cuz I'm loyal like that ;)

  20. No human being can like everyone cause we are all human. I am glad the other person had the courage and compassion to share with the woman, it may be a turning point in her life...maybe no one has ever pointed out to her how annoying and selfish she seems to others. It sounds like it turned out a win/win. :)

  21. Anyone who describes herself as a "senior transplant from the northeast" has problems with her self confidence. That would turn me off too and I am originally from the Northeast and am now a senior!
    All that aside, she sounds very needy but that type of arrogance is really hard to least it is in our AA rooms and we see it quite often because our area has a lot of transplants from there.
    I wouldn't worry about your feelings toward her. Here's what helps me...the saying, "You can't control your first thought but you can control your second and the action you take."

  22. Isn't it great when someone gives us what we NEED and not what we want sometimes?

    I know that I have a piece of me that will say yes to things that aren't good for me or the other person because I don't want to be rude, or though poorly of, or ... well it's about me and what I believe are the affects of me on someone else.

    It's really great that I can say no and have the assurance that I do not have the power to kill someone just by saying no, that God is big enough to handle anything that happens as a result of a decision I make.

    I'm living proof of the miracle that happens with my best decision making.


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