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Being peaceful around someone who provokes you


Hello Rabbi,
There is someone in my life, close to me, that I have to be around a lot. But most of the times we are together we get into a conflict. I don’t know what to call it, we lack chemistry, our energies are not compatible. Everything I say she pokes at and bugs me about and has an issue with. And most things that she says annoy me too.
I just spent an hour in the car with her and we ended up arguing. Then it was over, and for the rest of the car ride, every new conversation that came up she would say something in a way that provoked me again. But because I already felt bad about the initial argument, I tried to muster every ounce of self-control in me to keep my mouth closed. I know I came off rude, but what can I do? If I speak to her it will be an argument. She has a problem with every word I say and everything I do, and she annoys me like crazy. And I usually do answer back in some way. I struggle with not answering back. I’m so upset at myself for caring and not being able to brush it off. Maybe I could brush it off a few times but not so often! I see this person nearly every day and I know she means well, but like I said, our energies are just not compatible. I don’t feel like I have the right tools to handle this and I’m not sure what to do. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you for your time.



This is not an easy situation. Having to deal with a person that you don’t click with is difficult, and a massive nisayon. Here are a few tips to help you manage the situation a little better.

  1. First, realize that your relationship with this person has a nisayon attached to it. It is very hard right now but look at it as an opportunity to grow. When dealing with this person you are definitely working on your middos. Not to get upset, self-control not to answer her back, and also giving you experience in dealing with different types of people. It is working these emotional muscles, and making your personality stronger and capable of handling hard situations.
  2. Try “learning the person”. From your conversations, and from observing her, over time, you will learn what upsets her, what topics you can talk to her about and which ones you should steer away from. Learn what types of things this person does like to talk about and keep the conversation in that direction. This will teach you how to “drive defensively” with this person. With time you’ll become a pro at it.
  3. When she does say something that is hurtful, once in a while, you can give her a hint that what she said was not appropriate, but don’t get stuck on it. Give her the hint, and move on to another topic.
  4. Similarly, when you see that a certain topic is on a collision course, and it is going to cause a fight, bail out, and simply switch the topic.
  5. It might help to work on being dan lkaf zechus. She may be going thru certain difficulties at different times. Not that it validates her behavior, but it will make it easier for you to manage it.
  6. Most important, daven. Daven to Hashem that he should help you out in this nisayon, and that you should be able to get along with her better.

Hashem should send you siyata dishmaya, in every way.


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