Hello Newman! How To Make Peace With Your Nemesis
Everyone has a nemesis. Jerry had Newman. Oscar had Felix. I’ve got a bunch of them in my own little world in Cleveland. Unless you live in yurt in the middle of nowhere, and even if you’re just the most super likeable person on the planet who gets along with everyone, then you have someone in your life who is your nemesis, probably. If you don’t, you’re perfect, congratulations!
As an angry young man I treated my nemesis with contempt. Don’t get mad, get even! That was my mantra back then. Years later, and as the grey hairs show up more and more, I tend to look at things much differently.
In fact, I’ve got a guy who I have been feuding with for years now. We don’t like each other, at all. I won’t go into the details because who cares, but suffice it to say he is definitely the person when I see walking in my direction I used to have thoughts in my head of either punching him in the face, or a throat punch, or worse. Of course, thoughts are thoughts, I’m not a violent person at all. We all have those thoughts. The difference between people who act on them, and who don’t act on them, is jail time and the path to becoming a sociopath.
So I’m older now. This guy, this nemesis of mine, I am softening on him. And here’s why.
You know what? F*uck him. He’s not getting in my head anymore. He’s not taking up ANY space for negative thoughts in my brain ever again. When I see him now I smile and move on. He does not get to control my thoughts and feelings.
But can I do better than that?
I’m trying to be a better human being. And part of that is examining the reasons why things are the way they are in my life so I reach enlightenment, if that exists. Being introspective takes work and is not easy. Is it me that caused this problem? Shit, maybe it is? Probably not, but hey, I’m open to the idea of that at least. I’ve actually gone as far as thinking about ways to repair the relationship, even though I don’t want to (just being honest with myself).
But how? How do you let go of the hate like a Jedi? How do you make someone like you?
Maybe Ben Franklin has the answer? 200 years ago, he wrote in his autobiography…
"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."
Translation? If you’re trying to make nicey nice with someone, do them a favor because they won’t expect it, then they will soften on their issues with you.
In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the Pennsylvania legislature in the 18th century:
Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of pursuing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.
Boom! Now the question I have to ask myself is this. Do I have the balls to do that to my nemesis? Would you? Would you suck it up and ask them for a favor and express an interest in something they are passionate about in order to try and get them to think of you more favorably?
I’m going to try it. And this is going to suck, man. But I want to be a better person. I want to end this rivalry. It is doing me no good at all. It is a poison that only erodes my life, not enhance it, and I simply don’t have time for that any longer.
I’ll report back in the future with my results. Wish me luck.
Modern science backs up Franklin. Repeated studies have found that because the human mind hates cognitive dissonance (holding two contradictory thoughts at the same time), it will try to resolve the conflict between kind actions and unkind opinions by shifting its opinions to be more favorable.
In essence, if you do something nice for someone, your mind concludes you must at least kind of like them, and you proceed accordingly going forward.
So would you try it? Text me and tell me about your nemesis and give me one thing that you think you could ask a favor of them to try to fix the problem?
Text me now. (216) 236-8294
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