Dear Yogi Mir,
I have an old friend who has grown distant in recent years. He got a high-powered job and--it seemed to me--just changed his social scene. During this time, his behavior has become increasingly arrogant and I was happy to see him less frequently. There were no hard feelings, we just stopped hanging out as frequently.
Recently, it came out that he and his wife are getting divorced. I expressed my condolences, but perhaps didn't reach out to him as much as he thought I should have.
Ever since then, he has been rude, arrogant, and has been lashing out to me in anger about my response to his divorce. Because we work in the same field, I often catch wind of comments he's made, or he'll call and confront me directly.
He sends mixed signals: He makes off-hand comments about how I "ditched" him after his divorce, yet when I try and call him to make plans, he rudely insists that he doesn't want my pity, or that he isn't interested in hanging out with our family, or will cancel last minute. He also travels constantly and is in town maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the time.
I adamantly feel like I've done nothing to deserve this behavior, but am at a loss on how to make him stop. He is adept at turning every narrative around to make it seem like everyone else is to blame but him, so when I confront him, he just gets angry at me.
It's clear that this is his issue, not mine. But it is affecting my life and I want it to stop. What would be the yogic way to respond?
Yogi Mir's response:
Let me share a parable.
Once there was a little sparrow who built a beautiful cozy nest.
When it rained, the sparrow would fly into his nest, and stay dry, and enjoy the rain from his cozy home.
One day, the rain was very heavy. The little sparrow looked out of his nest and noticed a monkey sitting on the same branch shivering in the rain.
The sparrow felt a little cheeky and called out:
"Hey! Are you not one of the smartest animals? Why don't you build yourself a shelter?"
In response, the monkey got angry, ran up to the nest, and smashed it into pieces.
The little sparrow had to dart away, and get wet in the rain.
... The moral of the story: Sometimes we meet monkeys like that in our life. It's best not to say anything, and just avoid them. When confronted, ignore them.
In the case of your former friend, I am sorry that it happened to you, Brent.
Yoga teaches that our main goal is to maintain our peace of mind.
I would recommend ignoring your friend's behavior to maintain your peace.
Ignoring does not mean walking away, or losing contact. Ignoring means not buying into their anger or arrogance.
If you respond in kind, it only fuels their anger.
If you ignore the arrogant angry behavior, and respond with kindness and love, your friend may become aware of his own foolish selfish actions.
We often see this scenario play out among drivers on the road. If you cut someone off, or anger them somehow, and see them yelling at you, instead of buying into the same behavior, try smiling at them, or rolling your window down to say with full sincerity: "You look great! Have an awesome day!" You will stop them in their tracks. Immediately you will make them realize the foolishness and insignificance of their actions.
This may also be the case with your friend.
Perhaps, try complimenting him on his achievements every time you have an interaction.
Good Luck, and Namaste!
~ Yogi Mir