Within our “Landscape Your Life” health and wellbeing training programme, we discuss relationships their impact. In keeping with our garden themed approach, we refer to “Welcome Guests” and “Harmful visitors.” In this blog post I’m going to offer some suggestions as to how to deal with “Harmful Visitors” categorised as:

Mint – Practical “take over” types

Dandelions – Demanding “all about me’s”

Japanese Knotweed – Exhausting catastrophic thinkers

Slugs – confidence stealing, put you downers

I’m sure most people can think of a fair few people who fit into one or more of these categories… perhaps you can relate to yourself! It’s perfectly normal to have ups and downs, moans and groans be a little self obsessed or selfish now and again. But what do you about a work colleague who constantly complains or a slug like friend who leaves you feeling deflated and useless?

Depending on your relationship with the “harmful visitor” – here are a couple of suggestions. 

What to do about….

People with a tendency to take over…

Not technically a “negative” trait per sai but “mint” like people, can potentially make you feel inadequate or out of control – also, if the “task” isn’t done in a way which works for you, could lead to further work on your part. 

Mint is fabulous in mojitos, smells delicious and is extremely useful – but needs containment. “Mint” can be your friend, helpful and often practical. Setting some boundaries might help. Try…

  • Letting the mint know that you are appreciative of their support but this is something you feel you have to take care of yourself – If something changes then they will be the first to know.
  • Explaining that although you brought up the “task” this is something for a later date – perhaps right now they could support you with…
  • Avoiding “thinking” aloud or talking about lists of things to do… not unless you’re prepared with a plant pot.

Let mint help but on your terms – completing certain tasks will allow you to focus your attention on your priorities. This is particularly relevant if the required “task” doesn’t need to be done to your exact specifications or it isn’t something you excel at or enjoy. Treat the mint to show your appreciation – win win!

I myself can be a little mint like… especially when it comes to supporting my mum with household tasks. Sometimes I need to take a step back and “listen.” Often her passing thoughts of “things to do/buy” are just that – passing. She doesn’t always appreciate me drawing up a comparison chart for products, turning cupboards upside down or tackling things with great gusto and enthusiasm. I now hear – “Claire, I want you to….” and ignore, “I’ve been thinking a mallet would be useful for chopping up a turnip,” (real example…)

Friends who make you feel guilty…

These are “dandelions.” Bright, cheery and people you may want to keep in your life but can inadvertently show little respect for your time/priorities. They make you feel important and useful but can be selfish, highly reactive and drama queens. A typical dandelion might want the “old you” back – their friend who enjoyed big takeaway nights in and a netflix binge. It’s possible that your best intentions to focus on your own goals may be derailed by their demands – You may feel your constantly “starting” again and making little progress. With Dandelions try…

  • Explaining that although you want to be a supportive friend, you could really do with their help to tackle your weight issue. 
  • Telling your friend how you feel when you “mess up” and in order for you to be confident and be in control, right now you are not able to indulge their needs on every whim. 
  • Asking your friend how they would feel if every time you had a none consequential “issue” you were late, cancelled or changed arrangements. Demand respect for your time. 
  • Come up with a “compromise” – is it possible to swap your usual activities to something more inline with keeping to your own agenda? 

Most dandelions, when tackled are likely to be highly apologetic and may promise to “do better” – they may present a myriad of excuses for their behaviour – but most importantly, move forward with a plan that suits you both.

Doom and gloom spreaders

We call this “Japanese knotweed” a highly contagious weed that sucks the energy from you. Knotweed like traits are constantly complaining, being judgemental, narrow minded and negative about everything. They may sensationalise, catastrophes and live their lives in”worst case scenario” mode – they are unable to empathise, see things from someone else’s point of view and often see themselves as the “exception.” 

If you follow knotweed on social media, hide their feed, turn off all “news” feeds. Do you really need to know about “everything?” Choose when you watch/read/listen to the news, avoid first thing in the morning as it could negatively impact your day.

Depending on your relationship with the knotweed 

You could:

  • Demonstrate a positive, upbeat attitude – be the person who lights up the room and people look forward to talking to.
  • Refrain from joining in/agreeing with the knotweed and move the conversation away from the “issue” onto something else – have some positive “good news” stories to hand.
  • Reframe the situation from an alternative perspective
  • Point out that we don’t always have all the information so “speculating” or “assuming” certain things is a waste of time…
  • Ask the knotweed direct questions about their interests/projects. Often knotweed likes the sound of their own voice, divert their attention.
  • Praise the knotweed, notice when they do something well. Often the knotweed in society is the least confident and insecure.

Undermining confidence nibblers…

Slugs can be dangerous. Typically slugs will eat away at your confidence, question your decisions and make you feel undervalued/inferior.

Your first thought might be that slugs need complete eradication – with a good dose of repellant… this might work for “fake” face book friends, instagram feeds and other SM platforms. Comparing yourself to other people can be unhelpful. Instead focus on making those changes you are in control of. You may choose to follow inspirational influencers, with whom you share values or goals.

But, what if your “slug” is your partner, friend or boss? Before deciding the best cause of action, consider the following questions…

What do you hope to achieve?

Being clear on what it is you hope to achieve from addressing someone’s slug like behaviour will help you to work out the best way of going about things. Its important to establish what needs to happen in order for you to move forward. Tackling a slug without a plan may lead to much upset and no improvement in your relationship.

When and where is the best time to deal with this?

Choose your time wisely. The minute someone wakes up or walks through the door is not likely to be conducive to making a change. Nor is it whilst walking around ASDA, driving or just before you’re about to do something important.

What’s your priority?

It may be you feel like drawing attention to every misdemeanour of your slug. This is unlikely to go down too well – no-one appreciates being bombarded with a myriad of faults. Be selective – a few well chosen examples may be more effective than a catalogue of criticisms. 

Are you perfect?

Often, when criticised someones natural reaction is to become defensive and point out their issues with your behaviour. Anticipate this and preempt by considering your own actions and wether you have contributed to the problem. You may of course be completely blameless… if not be prepared to apologise and admit your part. To move forward, be honest.

Do you need support with this?

Depending on your relationship with the slug, you might need some help in working towards improving your relationships. Consider family members, friends, or colleagues. A union may be appropriate in a work related issue.

Would helping the slug benefit you?

If you know why your slug is behaving the way it is – perhaps they are insecure, lacking in confidence, jealous or suffering from poor mental health, you may consider supporting the slug in order to benefit you. This could be a suitable course of action, particularly if the slug like behaviour is a “new” thing or has being triggered by a specific event. Setting boundaries and working within a timeframe may help.

So, if you feel your “garden” is frequented by harmful visitors, hopefully this post will offer some suggestions as to how you might tackle these pests and weeds.

If you have identified unhelpful traits in your own behaviour – could becoming more positive and upbeat support you? Evidence suggests that starting a gratitude journal/thinking about “3 good things” could be helpful in shifting towards a helpful mindset.

See our blog post on  journaling for further information.