Why Bother Tolerating Irregular People?

 

Why Bother Tolerating Irregular People?

I don’t remember who coined the phrase, “irregular people,” but the words made perfect sense to me. Irregular people are not necessarily enemies, but they don’t bring out the best in us. Even though they might be a relative, coworker or serve on the same committee as we do, they don’t really seem to know us very well. Irregular people are those individuals from whom we get an unfriendly vibe. Although we try not to take it personally, we wonder why they don’t seem to like us. 

     Recognizing Our Irregulars 

We will always have at least one irregular person in our life. Currently, I count seven in mine. With them in mind, knowing how to tolerate them makes being in their company a little easier. 

One thing I have to remember when I am around one of my irregular people is that it is okay that they do not like or appreciate me. Not everyone understands my sense of humor, my bluntness or my point of view. Not everyone appreciates my personality. Does that mean I need to change just for them? Not necessarily, but maybe. More on that idea later. 

Consequently, when I am around one of my irregular people, I know what to expect. I feel an invisible yet noticeable negative force between us. Like a character on Star Trek, I am tempted to shout out, “Shields up, red alert.” But in doing so, I’d  only be reacting to the initial fear I get when I sense that I am not appreciated. Simply being aware of my tendency to react causes me to pause long enough to tell myself that there is no need to be afraid. Their force of negativity does not have enough voltage power to zap me out of the universe. 

My irregular people all have one thing in common besides being irregular: they like to be “right.” I’ve learned that arguing with them is pointless. It changes nothing for either of us. Voicing my opinion, which is always different from theirs, only creates a greater discomfort between us. I’ve learned to listen more and talk less while in the presence of my irregular people. 

Still, I have noticed three wonderful things about irregular people. First, sometimes the problem eliminates itself, such as when they move away and are no longer in our lives. That just recently occurred with two of my irregular people. Now I’m down to five. 

Secondly, an irregular person can sometimes turn into a friend, not a best friend, but still a friend. Once we identify someone as an irregular person does not mean they will always be that way.  There is always the hope that mutual understanding will someday bridge the gap between us and when it happens, well let’s just say it is a wonder beyond our control. I can vouch for such an experience and now I am down to four irregular people on my list. 

The final wonderful thing about irregular people is that they can sometimes, but not always, have a positive effect on our lives. This brings me back to the question, “Does that mean I need to change just for them?” The irregular people in my life long to be heard and understood. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep my shields down, I can listen and begin to understand them. 

Why bother tolerating irregular people? There will always be someone who is peculiar and a little unfriendly toward us. But recognizing and accepting them as just an irregular person who needs to be heard and understood, could have a positive outcome for us and for them.

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