What makes us feel comfortable around certain people and not others?

kk 037

What makes us uncomfortable?

1. If someone seems to have power over you. Like your boss. That’s a little anxiety producing.
2. If someone thinks they know more than you. Are better than you. More educated. More. More anything.
3. If someone has no sense of humor.
4. If it really matters that everything goes right. Like if you’re meeting your new love’s family. It would really be nice if they would like you.
5. If someone appears to be mean or belligerent.
6. If someone is in your face.
7. If someone stares at you coldly.
8. If the person you are interacting with has almost nothing to say. You have to do all the talking. They got nothing. They’re boring you. They got nothing.
9. If someone is talking about stuff you have no interest in. Brabantia in the Middle Ages. Who cares?
10. If someone just won’t stop talking about themselves. They keep putting their words in your face. Over and over. On and on. They keep telling you this and that about themselves. You just have to listen and listen and you want to be anywhere else on the planet, like maybe under a bridge outside Sydney, Australia. Oh wait, I think that’s what my son is doing.

What makes us cozy being around someone.

1. The trick isn’t that they are “nicer,” it’s that they, whoever they are, are more like you. We are comfortable with people who we have enough in common with.
2. People who listen.
3. People who really like you.
4. Respect you.
5. Think you’re funny.
6. Want to find out what else they have in common with you.
7. You like cheese, they like cheese. Not so important. You like art museums and walks in the park and trees and books and the way air tastes when it’s full of fennel and heat and so do they.
8. If you act weird, they’re okay, they just laugh and give you a break.
9. You can breathe.
10. You can relax. Nothing you say or do can or will be held against you.

Here is the thing. In your work life, in your public life, you can’t expect to only deal with people you are comfortable around. The likelihood of that happening is very slim. I suppose if you are very rich, you can manage to not be around people who make you uncomfortable, but for most of us, that just isn’t possible. In your life, there are going to be people who you are uncomfortable being around. To cope, we all put on armor, we find ways to behave properly, to keep it together, keep it together.

In an ideal world, these people who make you uncomfortable are people you don’t have to be around in your private life and certainly don’t have living with you. In America, we feel that we do get to choose who we live with. We don’t have to live with members of the tribe who we don’t get along with. People around whom we feel small and insignificant.

Around Mother’s Day and the holidays, you end up with the relatives who you get all tense around. Breathe my friend, that’s what I do. I breathe deeply. I say to myself. Yo, I got it going on. I’m going to be just fine.

The sun continues to rise. There are grilled onions and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes. There are pomegranates and there is raw fish and Johnny Depp movies and hopefully your children love you. Because if they do, you can conquer the world.

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] that’s real and that helps them know you better. When conversations flow smoothly, people start feeling comfortable sharing even without a show of interest, and you feel closer to one […]

  2. […] conversations flow smoothly, people start feeling comfortable sharing on their own even without a show of interest from you, and you feel closer to one another. […]

  3. It’s just on certain days…the people i live with make me feel as if I’m not worth the time or effort to be around and I feel as if they don’t want me around so I retreat to my comfort zone, only to be classied as being distant…but this has helped me overcome this and now knwo what to do in those situations…;)

  4. […] What makes us feel comfortable around certain people and not others? What makes us uncomfortable? 1. If someone seems to have power over you. Like your boss. That’s a little anxiety producing. 2. If someone thinks they know more than you. Are better than you. More educated. More. More anything. 3. If someone has no sense of humor. 4. If it really matters that everything goes right. Like if you’re meeting your new love’s family. It would really be nice if they would like you. 5. If someone appears to be mean or belligerent. 6. If someone is in your face. 7. If someone stares at you coldly. 8. If the person you are interacting with has almost nothing to say. You have to do all the talking. They got nothing. They’re boring you. They got nothing. 9. If someone is talking about stuff you have no interest in. Brabantia in the Middle Ages. Who cares? 10. If someone just won’t stop talking about themselves. They keep putting their words in your face. Over and over. On and on. They keep telling you this and that about themselves. You just have to listen and listen and you want to be anywhere else on the planet, like maybe under a bridge outside Sydney, Australia. Oh wait, I think that’s what my son is doing. What makes us cozy being around someone. 1. The trick isn’t that they are “nicer,” it’s that they, whoever they are, are more like you. We are comfortable with people who we have enough in common with. 2. People who listen. 3. People who really like you. 4. Respect you. 5. Think you’re funny. 6. Want to find out what else they have in common with you. 7. You like cheese, they like cheese. Not so important. You like art museums and walks in the park and trees and books and the way air tastes when it’s full of fennel and heat and so do they. 8. If you act weird, they’re okay, they just laugh and give you a break. 9. You can breathe. 10. You can relax. Nothing you say or do can or will be held against you. Here is the thing. In your work life, in your public life, you can’t expect to only deal with people you are comfortable around. The likelihood of that happening is very slim. I suppose if you are very rich, you can manage to not be around people who make you uncomfortable, but for most of us, that just isn’t possible. In your life, there are going to be people who you are uncomfortable being around. To cope, we all put on armor, we find ways to behave properly, to keep it together, keep it together. In an ideal world, these people who make you uncomfortable are people you don’t have to be around in your private life and certainly don’t have living with you. In America, we feel that we do get to choose who we live with. We don’t have to live with members of the tribe who we don’t get along with. People around whom we feel small and insignificant. Around Mother’s Day and the holidays, you end up with the relatives who you get all tense around. Breathe my friend, that’s what I do. I breathe deeply. I say to myself. Yo, I got it going on. I’m going to be just fine. The sun continues to rise. There are grilled onions and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes. There are pomegranates and there is raw fish and Johnny Depp movies and hopefully your children love you. Because if they do, you can conquer the world. Reply With Quote […]

  5. What if you are married to the person who makes you feel uncomfortable? What if that feeling evolved over time–a long time? Conventional wisdom states that this is something that should be discussed. But if the discomfort elevates during a “civilized” discussion, what is the alternative? Divorce? Counseling? My mother’s generation would have said to “stick it out”, things will work themselves out. Was that generation correct? The ultimate issue with that logic is that if you ignore something long enough perhaps it will eventually go away. I believe that none of us should have to endure disagreeable people for any appreciable amount of time. I also believe that divorce was invented for a very good reason. Maybe Elizabeth Taylor was on to something. After all, where is it written that you have to endure a life living with a mean-spirited person? I’ll stop here—Reply if you wish….

    • My thought is that whatever you signed up for when you got married was not the kind of thing where you were opting in to fight for your marriage at all costs. You should probably divorce her.
      Unless… you want to start over and face this whole marriage thing for what it is. Two people becoming one person. If you look at that head on, you’re basically uncomfortable with a part of yourself. Approach the problem that way.

  6. You are awesome!

  7. what makes me uncomfortable is my family: they judge, criticise, talk behind my back & get angry because I don’t want to be around them.

  8. Thanks

  9. i geel very uncomfortable being around my father, which is bad because at the moment I live with him. i try to make sure someone is around at all times. i dont know if it’s because hes a mean person and belittles me any chance given, or if it’s something else? i just don’t want to be near hi or speak to him! no it’s not a teen rebellion issue…im an adult with 2 children! it’s just in the past hes been very violent with me…to the point I feared for my life and wish he’d take his own! i am working on getting out of the situation and will cut ties when I do…but still am unsure about my fear? he makes me very uncomfortable! i lock my bedroom door for privacy(not always) and he never knocks, just opens the door or unlocks and opens! any advice will help…im so close to snapping…and i dont wanna be featured on snapped:)

  10. Thanks


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