It’s Not About The Bait

I have a person in my life who really doesn’t like me. We’ve had a very negative relationship for some time, but because of people we mutually know, I can’t seem to escape him. At get-togethers, he baits me, usually by saying something judgemental or unkind. I feel I have to speak up, and because I’m usually right (or at least think I am!), he gets angry, which in turn makes me feel threatened… and it spirals down from there. I feel shaken for days after an encounter. Well, we had another get-together last week, and because of being open to All Things Are Possible, I saw things differently, more honestly. This is what I noticed:

participationHis words and actions are specifically chosen to bait me, because we don’t just have a negative relationship. He actively and intensely dislikes me, so much so that I am the person he is most aware of when we are in the same room. When I saw that, it slowly dawned on me that I was the one in control of the situation – something I never would have guessed before. I realized that his entire satisfaction depended on me doing one thing: taking the bait.

So I’ve been thinking on that, on what to do, on what the possibilities are. At first, I thought there were two things I could do: either ignore the comments or speak up with integrity – but as I started to write things out, I realized a deeper truth.

It’s not the bait I need to worry about; it’s the trap – the bait is the comment itself, but the trap is the negative feelings. That’s what I need to avoid. Even truth can be spoken with the intention to do harm, to aggravate, to belittle. And when bait doesn’t trap you, it isn’t bait anymore. It’s a snack. 🙂

So the question isn’t: do I ignore the comment or speak up with integrity? The question is: can I be around this person without reacting to their malice? If I choose to remain silent when he baits me, can I still maintain my positive outlook? If I choose to enter the conversation, can I impose my own value system on it, instead of allowing his anger to dominate? To draw attention to Wayne Dyer’s quote, whether I choose to engage in the conversation or not, I must refuse to engage in the conflict.

So I don’t know if I’ll speak up or remain silent the next time, but really that’s irrelevant. What is very relevant is that I’m not trapped in a bitter mindset. I’m wondering now if inner strength is not shown by fighting against bullying, angry comments, but instead, by facing someone who has ill intent, seeing their motives clearly, and not only refusing to engage in the spite no matter how personal it gets, but act true to my own beliefs of respectful, kind interactions. In other words, instead of diving into the negativity, elevate the situation.

I know it sounds strange, but I’m almost looking forward to the next time I’m in the same room with him. I want to explore this more. I want to turn this negative into a positive. And I believe I can do it because for this year, All Things Are Possible.

Posted in Living As If All Things Are Possible and tagged , , , , , .


  1. You’ve articulated a very interesting–and, I believe, important nuance: “whether I choose to engage in the conversation or not, I must refuse to engage in the conflict.”

    I think, previous to reading this, I would just assume the conversation with the negative person IS the conflict, but you’re so right. It’s just a tool he uses for conflict. In a similar situation, I might think–by not responding, managing to keep my mouth shut–that I didn’t engage–but inside my head and heart I might be totally involved and enraged, just silently. Your way is better. And it IS possible.

    • Thank you, Ev! I’ve done that so many times too – walked away fuming – so the “just walk away” philosophy never seemed a viable way to handle conflict to me. Walking away, I’d not only feel angry about the comment, but disappointed in myself for not challenging it. Last year, I started to challenge, and things always escalated and always ended up very negatively, even if I “won” the argument. So that wasn’t the solution either. It really had me stumped. Thank goodness for writing! The act of writing is so interesting in so many ways, but as a tool of discovery, it really can be illuminating. It wasn’t until I started committing my thoughts to paper that I saw what I was missing. 🙂

  2. Totally get the picture, learning to respond with a loving heart rather than react to the pain in my heart. Wounded people hurt people, not to excuse the abuse. I just have learned that I will not give free rent in my head to an a******. I don’t need to fix their pain what I want is to not live with regrets. I can pray for them and then act like Jesus would no matter how I feel. I am continually learning a different way to respond, my journey is to pay attention and to grow in wisdom and maturity. Love your sharing, caring heart.

  3. I agree … the only way to win is to walk away feeling that no one persons negativity can bring you down to their level! Be positive and proud of it…and let any negative person in your life know that they will have to wake up pretty early in the morning to shake you – lol 🙂

  4. It doesn’t sound strange at all you’re looking forward to being in the same room as him now. You have a new perspective and of course you want to try it out. I’m so impressed by this shift, and I hope to remember it next time I’m somewhere similar! Well done, Ang.

    • Thank you, Jen! I know everyone has people like this in their lives at one time or another, and most of the advice is to avoid the haters at all costs – but what happens when that means not hanging out with people you actually do enjoy being around? Or you’re in a work environment, and can’t avoid them? It seems to me there has to be a solution… and maybe this is a step toward that.

      Good luck to us all the next time we’re confronted by haters!

  5. So beautifully written Angela – thank-you! I think that the goal of malicious people is to assert their “power” over you and they feed off of your discomfort and feeling small. It is so hard in the moment to observe their actions while at the same time remembering that you are the only person who has power over your feelings. This is a lesson I have had to learn many times. Thank-you so much for the reminder. <3

    • Thank you so much, Kristy! I agree, it is so hard to keep our inner balance around malicious people. I tell myself that every second I can do it, I am succeeding. Some skills are learned one moment at a time. 🙂

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