There’s one in every crowd. Maybe even one in every family.

It might be someone close to you: your mom, dad or your spouse. It could be a pushy aunt or uncle, a scheming co-worker or someone at your place of worship.

This person can be found any time, anywhere, nosing around, waiting for an opportunity to mess with people. 

And his next target could be you. Now, if he or she were to try messing with you, how would you handle it? Hold that thought, please.

What follows is an object lesson in stress management. 

A client of mine, “Clark”, makes good money in his own business, which he purchased from his overbearing, critical and domineering father. Since Clark is paying off a note over several years, he cannot avoid dealing with his dad, who comes around now and then, sometimes trying to help, but often getting in his son’s face and on his nerves. 

Recently, the situation came to a climax, when the dad blew up at Clark at the work place, while Clark’s employees could hear everything. Clark said this was the worst conflict in a long series of fights he’d had with his father over many years. He yelled back, cursed at his father and told him to get out.

During the session that followed this incident, Clark said he realized that he had lost control, and that he could have handled it differently.

When I suggested this might fall into the category of stress management, he nodded vigorously and said, “I’m terrible at that.”

Clark admitted that he has never been able to stay calm and balanced while his father criticized or berated him. He has always felt the need to defend himself or to try to calm his father down. Sadly, it’s clear that his attempts have failed.

In addressing this problem, I compared the dad’s behavior to that of a child having a tantrum. Sometimes, the wise parent’s best approach to a tantrum is to let the child exhaust himself. After all, no one can scream and cry forever. Thus, while the child continues to burn emotional and physical energy, the parent remains patient, waiting for the child’s mind and body to run out of gas. If the parent has the self-control to use this approach, the child will learn several important lessons. Among those lessons: screaming does not get you what you want; parents deserve to be in charge, largely because they are smart and they can control their emotions; and you can’t successfully manipulate your parents.

Clark told me he did not see how he could possibly stay calm and patient while his dad pushed his buttons. However, not wanting to take no for an answer, I shared with him the very stress management skill that he needs at moments like those. This is a skill that anyone can use successfully.

If you’re troubled by a troublemaker, and don’t quite know how to handle him or her, and you’d like some practical input, call me. The number is 219-309-3928. I’d be honored to be of service.

Thanks for reading!