People who are vile and what to do about them

Nasty people really spoil everything. They bring such misery and suck the goodness out of the world like a black hole.

They are the bully at work who is somehow protected by the shoddy system. They are the schoolboys, alarmingly self-assured, who want to intimidate you as you pass their gang. They are the jobsworths who stop you from getting an appointment because you didn’t understand how the system works.

I knew someone who, in a fit of (road) rage, once shouted out to a cyclist, ‘You DESERVE to die!’ You know, it might not really be the ‘done thing’ but I respect the honesty. Let’s face it, we all know people who we wish would die. Maybe even people whose death would make us weep tears only of joy. There’s no harm in admitting that.

But where does this leave us? Yes we should fight to make the world a better and fairer place but there will always be injustice. FACT. And anger is not a pleasant experience. It is a state which is all-consuming but fundamentally unresolved; a cul-de-sac. It makes us agitated. It will crescendo until its only true conclusion; revenge. But even if we do manage to torture them or burn their house down [insert other morbid fantasy], there is too much at stake. Obviously, there’s the risk that we get caught and go to jail (etc.), or it might even be that the other person bites back somehow and we end up the loser.

I knew someone who, in a fit of (road) rage, once shouted out to a cyclist, ‘You DESERVE to die!’

But if revenge is successful, does it really make us feel better? You think you’ve restored moral equilibrium. In fact what you’ve done is stoop to their level. Beneath the satisfaction of having got them back, the anger remains. By feeding the anger, it has just rooted itself. Revenge doesn’t heal your hurt, you are just stuck in an eternal cycle of remembering the anger and seeking to satisfy it with memory of your revenge. With blood ready to boil, tightness in your chest, this is no way to live.

So what on earth can we do?

Take a deep breath and recognise the following truths:

  1. People who take from others are gnarled and twisted inside. The experience of being them is miserable.
  2. The way they view and treat others is an indication of the way they view themselves. Their aspirations are shallow, driven only by the need to bolster and protect the ego.
  3. They are paranoid, neurotic and insecure, seeing the bad in other people, or just seeing them two-dimensionally. They cannot enjoy others, or truly understand them.
  4. They have lost perspective and live with tunnel-vision, unable to do anything but satisfy their own needs. What drives them to their behaviour is a force of negativity inside, so strong, that it blinkers them and makes them lose self-control.
  5. Probably most importantly, they will no doubt have a story from childhood which made them this way. They are broken or stuck, lacking the resources to find true fulfilment.

Deconstruct your anger with cold facts. Then focus on yourself. And be glad. If you are a good person who seeks only to be more patient, more kind, more accepting, then you have already won (not that this is a competition). There will always be mean people around. Be prepared for them and practice letting it go. Endeavour to make your small sphere of influence a positive one, with the peace of mind that you have touched and enhanced the lives of others.