How to Treat an Allergy to a Person
Techniques for dealing with negative feelings toward a person
Components of Avoidance-Blackout-Charity (ABC) Method
The first component of the ABC method as a means of self-protection from psychosocial-allergies is Avoidance (A) which means escape; and escape is difficult most of the time, although it sounds so easy. Escape from psycho-social allergy takes courage – the kind of courage required by the surgeon who is forced by circumstances to operate upon himself/herself. It is interesting to note that we are allergic only to people to whom we are bound by the ties of strong emotion or blood relations. Cutting those ties, even to save our nervous system, is often very difficult. Yet that is just what we must do in order to protect our nervous system and preserve our peace of mind.
So, here is some advice to the readers of this blog: if you are contemplating a business association or marriage or any other relationship with a person whom you know will get you down, don’t do it. If you are in doubt, then wait. Don’t let foolish pride or self-regard or your pessimistic guess about what others may think lead you into such self-destruction. The very best way to combat a psycho-social allergy is to avoid it. Plough under the ragweed of a poisonous relationship before it pollinates to fill your atmosphere with perennial irritation. Secondly, you should not bank too heavily upon your ability to reform someone or to change his or her personality through the beneficent effects of your noble efforts and example. The writer often finds boys dreaming of reforming prostitutes and girls spinning visions of reforming drunkards and gamblers. But, it’s only a pleasant fancy, which ends in a nightmare! When the windmill of a clashing personality hits the lance of the impractical reformer, the reformer is going to find him/her sitting in dust, wondering what knocked him/her down.
Although prevention of psycho or social allergies is better than a cure, what can you do when you feel you cannot escape from the person who gets you down? Here you encounter a double problem. One part of the problem concerns the mental state of the person who stirs you up and disrupts your life. That’s the part you blame. The other part concerns you. This is the most important half of your problem. For no one can make you very nervous if you feel free to pick up and leave. You are hurt only by those persons to whom you are bound by your own needs. In treating your own psycho allergy you must first ask yourself why you need the person who is making you nervous. If your needs are not valid, if your needs are childish and immature, you can choose escape as your path to freedom from nervousness. Otherwise, get yourself desensitized to that person.
The second component of the ABC method is Blackout (B). That is the method that you can use when escape is impossible. It means getting yourself insulated emotionally from the other person’s behavior that is making you nervous. This can be achieved by understanding your own needs and adjusting them to the facts of your situation. Of course, this requires adult self-sufficient attitude. Blackout is an effective method when a person aggressively gets on your nerves. It is a sort of passive non-cooperation. It is like pulling down the mental curtains for an emotional blackout and an attempt to relax mentally as well as physically in response to the initiating attitude of another person. Do not resist or argue or even answer back. Why should you infect yourself with another’s nervous tensions and emotional conflicts? Instead of arguing, you might ask questions and you will find that little by little the person will veer from the abstract to the concrete. Remember your own passivity is your greatest protection. When you try it, you will find that you are saving wear and tear on your own nerves, your stomach and your heart.
The last but not the least important is Charity (C). The term charity here does not mean the giving of alms. On the other hand, it conveys a sense of friendly, sympathetic and unselfish understanding. Charity means you drop your personal feelings and substitute comprehension and understanding. Suppose someone has been arousing your hostility. Above all, you cannot escape, and you cannot black out his/her aggressions. In this case, you can diminish your hostility and resultant anxiety by understanding the aggressor. In other words, you become a psychotherapist. Try to understand how that person got that way, what it is that he/she demands of life. What experience or lack of opportunities has misdirected his/her attitudes and behavior into trends that you find disagreeable? To understand all this is to forgive all, and to forgive is escape from hostility and anxiety.
Moreover, understanding others leads to understanding ourselves. It is only through the give-and-take of understanding others that we can arrive at a correct appreciation of our own limitations and possibilities. So in this case, the virtue of compassion is not only its own reward, but gets a valuable bonus thrown in.
To sum up, it can be concluded that a social or psycho-allergy is caused by hostility that others arouse in us, when for some reason within ourselves we feel that we must repress this hostility. Hostility and its repression — the conflict between hate and love — may lead to anxiety and nervousness. Due to the intimate mind-body relationship, nervousness spreads waves of inhibition over our forebrain and thus, paralyses our best creative abilities. Just stop and think for a moment. Ask yourself whether your aggressive reaction is worth the defense. After you have done this, you react to your hostility, not by the repression, but by the judicious choice of the ABC method. Every situation is different and requires individual handling. As you apply the ABC of the treatment of psycho-allergy, you will develop ingenuity and resourcefulness in your technique. Consequently, the use of this technique will give greater freedom and power to your personal development and individual success and will diminish the sum total of hostility and anxiety in this troubled and frustrating modern world.
Read Parts 1 and 2 of this Blog Series:
Having an Allergy to a Person – Part 1
How to Cope with an Allergy to a Person – Part 2
Prof. Dr. Yasmin Nilofer Farooqi (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) is currently working as Professor and Ex-chairperson at the Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. She received her M. Sc (Gold Medal) from University of the Punjab and her M.A and Ph. D from Temple University. Dr. Farooqi gained her Doctoral Internship in Clinical Psychology from State of New Jersey and her Post-Doc from University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Farooqi has published more than 60 research papers in international journals and significant publications and has written chapters in national and international edited books. She has been an International Affiliate Member of APA, a member of the Consulting Editorial Board of Journal of Psychology in Africa and a Referee for APA Journals of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Clinical & Counseling Psychology and Professional Psychology. The winner of more than 50 esteemed awards, Dr. Farooqi has promoted international understanding of Islamic perspective of mental health and psychotherapy for the welfare of Muslim clients across the globe through her publications, research work and oral presentations at international conferences.Tags: interpersonal relationships
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Dear Dr. Parooqi, it have been an abundance of burdening circumstances and situations at my work and my life respectfully that have brought me to an almost breaking point, mentally and physically (as a consequence of enormous mental strain on a daily basis). I have been (or allowed myself to be) susceptable over any normal limit, to emotional and mental pressure from people who have strong and immediate influence and control over my emotional as well as professional life (I.e. my former love/life partner and also my work superior – two different people). I failed to set healthy foundation and resolve issues from the past and moved on with all the emotional baggage still present and through time it still kept affecting my performance and ability to plan and achieve things in my personal and professional life. I found your website in search of answer to a question that my mind has asked itself: is it possible that my anxiety is actually an actual allergy to some people in my immediate surrounding?! Is there such a thing?! I found confirmation to what my mind has processed as an explanation and that fact has amazed me! I realized that I am not dillusional but perfectly capable of finding an explanation and was just in a need of finding techniques to deal with my problem and I think your guidance within this website will be invaluable answer to my struggle. Thank you so much! It is hard to fight battles on different fronts but I am reassured now that I can do it to my best ability. Thank you for great insights! Sincerely, Herve’
Many thanks for your detailed comments. Congratulations on successfully battling on so many fronts with an exceptional degree of self-awareness and and insight . Certainly, I am delighted to know that my PsychAlive articles were of some help in further enhancing your insight. My only message to you is : No matter how rough and tough the circumstances are; you will be soon out of it because the crisis come and go. Nothing is static except for the change. Try to stay in the present and give meaning to each moment of your life; because the past is already gone and the future does not exist ,as yet. Then, why waste your precious time and energy in brooding over the past or the future. Live in the present and make the best out of it.