Dealing With Difficult People
Imagine a life in which everything always goes your way. There are no problems, no money worries, no health concerns and no difficult people.
Most of us have found ourselves longing for this state of being at some point or another. However, the truth is that it is life’s challenges that provide us the opportunity to grow. If we were never challenged, we would never grow and would therefore never really be fully alive.
Difficulties are an essential part of life and dealing with difficult people is something we all experience. Difficult people give us opportunities to learn, to adapt, and to achieve wisdom. Dealing with difficult people forces us to feel discomfort, to look within, and then to learn to alleviate it by acquiring a more diverse set of responses.
Try this exercise. Write down a list of the difficult people in your life. Beside each name, jot down four or five adjectives which describe why the person is difficult for you. One item in your list of people might look like this ” Jim self-centered, controlling, manipulative, untrustworthy”.
When the list is finished, go through all of the adjectives and see if there are any that repeat themselves. For example, you might see the word “controlling” frequently in your list.
Now you have learned something about yourself. You need to learn how to handle controlling people. Developing the skills necessary to deal with controlling people without letting them upset you and negatively impact your mood would be of great value to you and would make your life easier and more enjoyable.
Learning to handle ourselves effectively with difficult people is a challenge we all face. None of us are immune from interactions with people who have the capacity to make our lives miserable. When a difficult person drives you to distraction, try thinking about the situation in a different way. It is not our place to try to change other people it is difficult enough to make changes in our own lives. If and when other people decide to come to terms with their problems, they will.
The basic idea is to look within and to understand that it is we who are experiencing the difficulty. As responsible people, we may feel the need to understand the source of this felt difficulty and take productive action to protect ourselves from its negative consequences.
There are a number of techniques that can be used to reduce the uncomfortable feelings these difficult people may bring up for us such as 1) staying centered, 2) being assertive, 3) confronting the individual, 4) responding to the underlying message, or 5) terminating the relationship.
Dealing with difficult people can be a challenge. Working with a professional therapist can yield a world of new insights and clues for solving problems more flexibly and developing more positive coping responses.