Dealing With Prickly People

People can be just like plants, some folks are bright, happy and open, just like a sunflower 🌻. Others may be shy violets who are beautiful in their own quiet little way. There are the wise old oaks, and opportunistic strangler figs that aim high and launch themselves of the shoulders of giants.

Then there are the cacti of the world.

Always prominent, often a joy to look at, but sometimes prickly to be around- we often forget they are only built like this to protect themselves from external threats.Today’s post is inspired by nature and looks at the world of prickly people from a plant-enthusiast perspective to help you contemplate how to navigate prickly situations on and offline.

Let’s look at how we reframe our approach to prickly people

Growth and Gardening.

Cacti- the plants- are fascinating and rewarding architectural beauties to surround yourself with.

They are, for-most-part, easy to look after but can often wither up and die from the inside out without warning. Either from over watering, under-watering, or a susceptibility  to temperatures, light, pests or diseases that they failed to let you know about. Anyone who has cared for a cactus will tell you that they can be dangerous. Spines aside, some are loaded with skin irritants, there are even a few with drug properties. Those getting up close and personal with them through potting up, weeding, or maintainance will testify to the nasty bruises that can come from a cacti spine encounter or the irritating fiberglass-like spines that you might find embedded in your skin for weeks after brushing against a prickly pear.

Despite all this many of us persist with cacti because we know that they are just beautiful plants with great defence systems.

Bullies can be much the same!

On Bullying

Most of us have encountered a bully or two in our lives.

 Perhaps it was a work colleague who decided it would be fun to belittle you based on your work outputs to make themselves look better. Or the kid in fifth grade whose parents were going through a tough divorce and they decided to take their frustration out on you because no one was listening to them at home.

Example number one- the work bully- is just a great big Peruvian Apple Cactus. It can get huge and knows it, and it’s big intentional spines are spaced widely, but are long and sharp and leave a huge bruise. It’s large enough to look after itself without this need for prickles but like all plants, it has a soft side it needs to protect, even if most apple cactus are in locations where they aren’t subject to any real predators they err on the side of caution.

Most might think ‘to heck with the apple cactus… it seems to dangerous’ or they might go places to view one in all its glory from time to time but not bother with the hassle of having one around all the time.

But for those that choose either intentionally or circumstantial (perhaps there’s one in the office or came with your rental property) the pay off can be so rewarding if you find the right way to exist with the cactus. Apple cactus look good from afar. You might never get close enough to hug one (unless you want to suffer the prickly consequences) but viewing them in all their glory on a daily basis is enjoyable and they do bring a certain aesthetic to every space. If you interact with them well and give them the time and resources they need that can surprise you with rare and spectacular blooms that only come out overnight on special occasions. They also have the capability of bearing fruit if fertilised the right way.

Apple Cactus People Can be Really Prickly.

This might be intentional or subconscious but like all people and plants, they are just growing through life. You might have apple cactus people come into you life at some point. They may be brought there intentionally, or your work, living, or online circumstances might have invited them in. Whatever the case is, you need to assess how important it is for you to have this cactus in your life. If you have acknowledged their prickly exterior and feel emotionally suited to the challenge of working towards a rare bloom-or even more challenging-a fruitful relationship then cacti farming might be for you. Perhaps your interactions with this potential prick is circumstantial. The circumstantial cacti-farming scenario can be far more difficult and has a few potential solutions:

 

Remove the Cactus:

If you have assessed the situation and decided that Peruvian apple cactus farming really isn’t available to you right now due to time, emotional, and/or resource availability just take the cactus back to the shop! It can be hard to bring someone into your life and make the tough decision that it isn’t working, but you have only one life with limited time and you don’t want to waste it on a relationship you don’t feel up for. Don’t feel disappointed that caring for this specific cactus (or perhaps all cacti) wasn’t your thing, and never feel bad about asking for professional help in removing the emotional spines that get stuck. While all cactus people have their own conscious or subconscious rational behind being spiky and protective some fall into the narcissist category, and no matter how much you work with them you might always end up bruised. These types of wounds will usually require professional interventions.

Work with the cactus:

For a lot of us Peruvian apple cactus people are something we didn’t seek out to include in our lives. Perhaps they came with our share house or our job. These are the worst types of cacti because you are circumstantially bonded with them in a close space. When you work nearby a cactus you will get pricked. Being aware of the cactus, its stance, and it’s special requirements can help you work to be less prone to pricks and possibly even appreciate the cactus or grow with it (everyone grew to love Sheldon on Big Bang Theory and he is definitely a Peruvian Apple Cactus that most of us enjoy watching but wouldn’t want to live with). Working with a cactus can be done in two ways. You can try to develop a relationship with the your cactus with an understanding of how the cactus operates now and an acceptance that you will not ever change that. This kind of relationship is a relationship with yourself.The best example of this relationship is Patrice and Robyn from How I Met Your Mother. Robyn is so prickly towards to Patrice but she seems to stick in there for reasons only known to her!

The other way of working directly with a cactus is to attempt to change them. Without a degree in psychology and a cactus that has told you it wants to change then you will likely find yourself disappointed and/or frustrated by this approach and it will take an emotional investment. You might be one of the few that succeeds but remember they trying to change someone to behave how you want them to behave can be reflected as bullying when you take a look in the mirror. Plants, especially cacti, are hardy and stubborn and it’s not likely you will come off well if try to change them. Propagation experts do have success in changing cacti but it’s unlikely your psychology skills are at cacti-grafting level.

View from Afar:

Accepting a cactus that is in your life and you just have to deal with can be tricky. But for some circumstances you might be able to be in the  vicinity of the cactus and not get pricked or have to take responsibility for having a close relationship with it. If you are working with a cactus that’s too close for comfort and won’t respond to your attempts to work with it there is no harm in asking for intervention. While you aren’t trying to have it removed (if you are you should chose option one) you might be able to discuss having the cactus or yourself promoted or shifted to a new role, change desks, classes or perhaps locations. With this option the cactus and yourself still get to carry on with your lives, but from more appropriate distances. The cactus in the arid garden and you in the tropical greenhouse.

Move Yourself:

Sometimes we end up in the arid garden by mistake. Perhaps we thought that’s where we wanted to be then found out it’s not really our thing, or maybe life shifted us in that direction to test our desires and skill sets to better determine what we do and don’t want. Either way, with considered thought, there is no shame in leaving the arid garden if you have had enough of the pricks! Moving can be hard. Once we establish roots we often don’t want to move. It’s comfortable and we feel like we are at a loss if we have to up root and move on. It could be that resources are scarce and we have to stick around and struggle for a little while in the arid garden to make sure ends meet. Or perhaps we don’t want to admit we are a fern that’s fighting for a place in the arid garden but is slowly withering and dying from the harsh and unnourished landscape. Sometimes we do have to leave and having an exit plan that doesn’t result in us bare rooted and out on the curb to dry up is essential. If moving on is your decision be proud that you identified what you don’t want in life and made the decision to change it.

Fight the Cactus or Cut it down a Peg or Two:

Mean people and bullies are the worst and you may feel strongly that they need to be shown the error of their ways. Fighting a cactus to take it down can be really hard work but it’s not impossible. Firstly you need to have protection. This protection could be physical, emotional or both. You then need a strategy. The strategy should begin with self reflection. Why do you need to interfer with this persons modus operandi and are you the person to do it?

While no-one deserves to be bullied there is always two sides to every story and you have to remember that both sides will come up in a discussion or confrontation with the cactus in question. If you find yourself with good grounds and suitable protection to open the communication with the cactus then be prepared for possible success, but probably injuries to your emotions, sense of pride, reputation and/or physical.

Most people don’t want to hear that they are doing something perceived to be wrong by you as they are likely insecure, unaware, or trying to protect themselves. When you tackle a cactus it can often be best to get help. Getting a group of friends together to work on the cactus probably won’t be well recieved because a cactus will only try to make themselves bigger and spiker for protection. Calling on a psychologist or bullying/difficult people specialist will be a better option. Whatever the case tacking a cactus to teach it the error of its ways will take a great deal of your time and emotional energy so make sure you are prepped for the mammoth effort.

The Mother of Millions.

Online Bullies are a Little Bit Different.

Online bullies are a little bit different. They are more like a Mother of Millions succulent than a cactus. Not about to cause you any physical bruises (in most cases), but can be a noxious weed that can infiltrate every part of your life rapidly. If you have seen a mother of millions you will know how gosh-darn beautiful it is. This plant is a one of a kind. It’s unique, has gorgeous blooms, grows hardy and is alluring enough to make you want to look at it every day.

The thing with this plant, is that given the right condition it can go totally viral! It’s reproduces in two ways, seeds that blow off and become their own plants in their own time or by reproducing tiny little plants that drop directly off their leaves and surround them. When an online interaction with a mother of millions goes wrong or they actively choose to go against you the fall out can be quite intimidating. Their stance can be taken up replicated and reinforced by the millions of plantlets that follow and believe in and are part of the uniqueness of the mother of millions. The mother of millions also scattered seeds far and wide and other similar plants are there to back their argument directly or indirectly.

Interactions with mother of millions online can be just as hurtful as trying to hug a Peruvian apple cactus and there is no general consensus on the right way to rectify online altercations. It’s more of a case by case or personal decision on how to deal with them.

For most part (depending on your geographical location) online threats are now considered to be serious by most police departments and can be reported and acted upon. If you feel like the mother and/or it’s millions are a direct threat take it to law enforcement. Social media sites also have their own ways of managing damaging content and interaction and so you can contact the maker of the social network or website or also block conversations, comments and otherwise. If you choose to tackle a mother head on for something you really care about remember that it will take time, energy, internet data and the interactions can be around forever.

Pick your battles wisely.

Have you had an encounter with a prickly person? Tell us about it below. 

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