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How To Be Nice When You Want To Be An A-hole Instead

blog 10.8

I was listening to this Bjork song earlier. Bobbing my head along. Imagining I was back on stage swinging my hair all around. Being all angsty and rock n rolly on stage.

And then I listened to the words “And if you complain once more, you’ll meet an army of me.”

Which is basically saying “I can’t listen to you complaining anymore…I’m DONE!”

I smiled. And giggled. Because I’ve had this feeling many many times in my life.

Like, imagine that you’re sitting there helping a friend through something. And they keep talking about it, but not wanting to do anything about it.

It’s like the same story over and over again. And when you give them (really awesome amazing) advice that you know will help them they don’t take it. And not only that, sometimes they get all mad at you and say things like “are you trying to coach me right now?” And then they leave. And a week later they come back and say the same things over and over again. Same problems.

And you’re all like “Ughhhhhhhhhhh!”

And this is where it gets personal, right? Like “Dude…I TOLD you what you could do to make it better” and “It’s kinda like what I do for a living…helping people through these problems.”

And yet, they still don’t want to hear it.

Bjork’s song made me giggle because at times, I’ve felt like wanting to say that. Like saying “FINE…if you don’t want my help then stop talking to me about it!”

or “Please shut the hell up, I have enough of my own problems to deal with.” (Tweet this!)

And then I felt like a jerk. Because I know deep down, that isn’t how I REALLY feel, or how I want to look at life. Or my loved ones. And that it’s a bit selfish. But what I have done is thought of some ways to change my perspective on it.

Because the truth is that you can’t change people. (Tweet this!)

You can’t make them ready to hear things they aren’t ready to hear. You can’t make them stop having problems (and more than that you can’t fix their problems) and you can’t make them stop talking to you about it.

You can’t really do anything other than be different about how YOU are in those moments of talking to them.

And so I came up with four things to try that might help you handle things in a helpful and nice way when you instead want to be an a-hole about it:

1) Listen

I know…it sounds simple and kind of counterintuitive but what I’ve found is that people most of the time just want to be heard. They rarely want to be fixed, even if there is a very simple solution to whatever their problems are.

This video is a PERFECT and hilarious display of this.

So for as long as you can hack it, just listen. And say something like “That sounds so hard, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through that.”

I have a friend who was going through a really tough time. She told me that she didn’t want anyone to offer any solutions, but rather she would prefer some acknowledgement on how shitty things were. Once I did that, we got on to talking about Dexter or our favorite new tea.

When people feel acknowledged, seen and heard, they don’t need to continue rambling on.

2) Show them love in the way they like to receive love

So often, we approach people with the way WE like to give love, rather than the way they need to receive it. So for example, let’s say that you are someone who likes to offer solutions to problems as a form of “love”, but the person you’re talking to feels loved when you give them hugs.

Try to find out the ways in which they feel loved and then give that to them.

When I’m upset, I like to just cry it out and have another person listen and acknowledge, so that tends to be how I approach my friends. But I have a friend who needs personal touch (hugs, hand holding) to feel heard and loved.

It’s not my go-to move, but I know when I talk to her that that’s what she needs from me. So I do that.

If you don’t know what your friends need from you, just ask! A good way to do that is to say: “How do you feel loved?” or “What are some things I can do right now that make you feel loved and heard?”

3) Ask them what they need from you

So often, we assume what people need. That in talking, we assume they want fixing. Or maybe we assume they want commiserating. Or we assume they want us to be angry with them. But a lot of the time, what we assume people want from us isn’t exactly what they want. And furthermore, if we give them what they don’t want, it can shut them down.

If you notice this might be happening with a loved one, you can also say, “hey…what do you need from me right now?”

That allows them to state their needs in a non-threatening way and it allows you to stop guessing.

4) Be honest

Ok…so if you’ve tried one through three and they are STILL going on and on about whatever thing, it is ok to opt out of the conversation.

This happened to me before and it was simultaneously the coolest and scariest interaction I ever had with my friend.

We had been hanging out for a couple hours and she was talking about a particular problem. I listened and tried to be there for her, but after about an hour and a half, I was exhausted. It was Friday and I had spent the entire week helping and coaching people and I just didn’t have the capacity to listen to it anymore. That was the truth for me.

I needed my friend and I needed her to be there with me and just be silly and have fun.

So I said “No…just no. I can’t listen anymore. It’s the end of my week, we’ve been talking about this for over an hour. Can we just hang out?”

It wasn’t the most tactful request of my life but it was honest. It’s what came out. And we actually both just burst out in laughter after I said it.

She agreed, that we didn’t need to keep talking about it. We became closer in that moment, and both got what we needed.

You may choose different words but the point being that it’s ok to state your needs as well. Conversations are a two-way street. You both will have wants and needs and desires and it’s ok to state yours.

One of my favorite quotes is from Tim Ferriss about conversations. Something like “your success in life is directly proportional to your willingness to have difficult conversations.” I’d change this up in this situation a little to be “…your willingness to speak the truth.”

So there you have it. The four ways to be a good friend when you otherwise want to be an a-hole. And really, what I believe this is speaking to is the bigger “spiritual” lesson of compassion, both for yourself and others.

It’s easy to just be reactive in life. To be unhappy with a situation and internalize it and feel resentful. But it can also be just as easy to be “cause” in your relationship. Not just an innocent bystander who gets swept up in whatever is happening around them.

You can change the way you’re being about things to make them work better for you and at the same time being there for your loved ones.

And this is where the spiritual lessons meet the road. Where you get to walk your talk. Where you get to practice all those things you learn on the Pinterest pins.

It’s easy to learn stuff but we don’t always integrate it into our lives. That’s one thing I love about the Wildheart Revolution. It’s the place to actually PRACTICE all the stuff you learn everyday. If you’re not already on the list, make sure you put your name below to be the first to know when the doors to enrollment swing open.

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Which out of these resonated the most? What do you do when you’re so tapped out from being there for everyone? Got any good tips? I would LOVE to hear from you. Leave your thoughts, tips and tricks in the comments below.

7 Responses to How To Be Nice When You Want To Be An A-hole Instead

  1. Sally!

    I love this post today and #3 “Ask them what they need from you” really resonated because sometimes I can launch into a whole diatribe of solutions after listening to a friend (or my husband) talk over an issue when in reality all they want is to vent or talk it through.

    Thank you for this reminder and the laughs today! I’m cracking up because I’ve totally been there too with the “OMG Shut it!”. Eek!


    • Sally Hope says:

      Seriously girl! I can do the exact same thing and now that I think about it it’s pretty arrogant of me to assume I know what’s best for them!! I just giggled at your comment. :)

      Thanks for posting girlie.


  2. morgan says:

    OMGGGGGGGGGG this so sums up my life for this whole year so far! And YES, you can only control you and no one else so at the very least, set personal boundaries and recognize the triggers that get you to the point where you’re gonna fly off the handle and shout, “DUDE, SHUT UP!”

    And that video is THE BOMB! So funny!

  3. Hollie Flynn says:


    OMGosh…loved this. That video is hilarious. I almost snorted coffee through my nose!

    #1 It’s so true and important. I personally talk about one topic to one person…again and again. And it’s because I simply want to be heard on that topic by that person…witnessed and validated.

    I don’t want solutions. Just to be truly heard. So I guess I need to skip to #4) And be honest

    and get therapy! :)

  4. Jill says:

    Thank you Sally! This post came at a perfect time for me. I’ve been struggling with 2 (actually 3) different people lately with regard to this subject. I feel like everyone else is sick of their whining and complaining so they come to me and keep repeating themselves. For the first time since I can remember, I am working in an environment with some people I would never choose to work with (as opposed to being my own boss and hiring the people I like). I have honestly been thinking of possible solutions and ideas about what to say to them when they come over and start bitching about everything in their world. Of course, I have fantasies about telling them how I really feel (which would be mean..) but I will take our suggestions for a spin!
    …and just P.S.- one woman complains SO much about her health “issues” and bodily functions and you know me… a) don’t point out your “flaws” and b) I am NOT comfortable with strangers or acquaintances getting so personal. So, I told her “I have an idea….. maybe you should try to go for a whole day without complaining. Maybe you have so many problems because you are constantly talking about them and re-enforcing their existence.” She looked straight at me like I was crazy or had 3 eyeballs or something and kept on talking…. Ughhhhh.

  5. Chrissy says:

    I love this post. I have a co-worker who is going through some hard times and she keeps rambling about it and from her I have learned exactly what your are saying – listen to her rather than trying to give some advice. I love how you say: you can’t make them ready to hear things they are not ready to hear. It is so true.
    Thank you for this reminder and thanks for the “nail” – still laughing over here!
    Chrissy xxx

  6. Blog Love says:

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