One of my talented and sensitive friends talks about a client who is hard to please. The first time she cut his hair, he complained about it. She was certain he wouldn’t return, but he did. At his next visit he expressed dissatisfaction again. And yet, he would keep coming back to her for haircuts.
He was also flaky. He would text her to call him and then not return her call. She didn’t want to continue cutting his hair because every time she saw him, she’d end up feeling badly about herself in some way.
It’s like, “Mr. Grumpy, if you don’t like the way she cuts your hair, stop going to her!” But, obviously he liked going to see her. Perhaps he’s just a glutton for punishment, or he might be someone who is only happy when there’s something to be unhappy about. Who knows?
We’ve talked about it and can’t figure out why Mr. Grumpy keeps coming back. She could just cut to the chase and ask him why he keeps coming back if he’s unhappy with the way she cuts his hair, but that would be too easy. Sometimes she prefers to bear a burden or take one for the team than put someone else on the spot.
Another choice she could make is to stop cutting his hair altogether, but she’d rather work through a challenge than slam the door on it. I look forward to seeing how it goes. Perhaps one day when he walks in she will be detached enough to allow him his grumpiness while she stays in her optimism. That’s the positive wish, anyway.
So we talked at length about that challenge. Exactly how could she use this opportunity to stay in her optimism? I have heard it said that for anything someone says to us that hurts our feelings, it takes us hearing at least seven positive things about ourselves to counteract that hurt. So, just to get back to neutral takes some doing for us! (By the way, I believe it has to do with our neuropathways being set that land in a certain place, such as a habitual thought we may have about ourselves being no good in some way. I don’t have a source to cite, so if you know of this research or information, feel free to drop me a line).
So we decided to conduct an experiment. It was her task that whenever she sees Mr. Grumpy, she will:
- Notice when her mood starts going south.
- Identify the habitual belief she has about herself when dealing with him (such as: “I’m not a good hair stylist”).
- Tell herself seven good things about herself, such as:
- “I love being a stylist”
- “I am excellent at what I do”
- “I am kind”
- “I am caring”
- “I am a good friend”
- “People love to come see me”
- “I am thoughtful”
As she stays diligent about checking in with herself in this way, maybe when Mr. Grumpy walks in the door she will immediately associate it with pouring extra love on herself. She can be free – she can release her attachment to wanting Mr. Grumpy to change while she reconnects with her optimism whenever she wishes! We’ll see how it goes.
Do you feel badly about yourself when interacting with certain people? Since you cannot change them, why not take control by being extraordinarily kind to yourself? You deserve that.
If you are willing to say at least seven nice things to yourself when you’re feeling badly (and yes, be creative and make it fun!), you will find yourself feeling better… and faster!