One of my many challenges in life was being able to find peace around difficult people, the thing is as we get older we learn that we can pick and choose our friends, however sometimes there is no choice but to be around a difficult person. I’m sure you can relate.
Right now it’s that time of the year again. ‘Tis the season of family vacations, holiday parties, and awkward celebratory work functions. And whenever large groups of us are forced to share the same space for too long, especially after hours when alcohol and exhaustion are factored in, there’s a fairly high potential for unnecessary drama.
So this morning I read an email article and it went something like this, “I have difficult people in my family and social circles that I have to deal with at various holiday-related gatherings over the next several weeks, and just thinking about it drives me crazy. What can I do when these difficult people start getting on my nerves—which is inevitable? How do I shield myself from their negative behavior so I can keep my cool? And what if I can’t completely get away from them? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.”
It’s a super-common emotion for all of us to feel stressed out, annoyed and generally pissed get pissed off by other people, especially those family, friends and coworkers with the closest ties to us. But even when we feel our feelings are justifiable, we don’t want anyone else’s presence or behavior to really bring us down. And we certainly don’t want to add to the drama around us.
We just want to have a great time and come out the other end feeling nice.
So, what can we do when someone close to us a friend or a co-worker is being just being annoying, irritating, rude or just generally difficult?
Well as long as your not in any sort of real danger and we don’t need to physically protect ourselves, the best choice is often a simple mindset shift. Rather than trying to change the other person, we change our response to them.
Time and time again I have told people a simple mindset shift can do wonders to situations,
I know that suggestion can be frustrating for some people. Why should I have to make a change when it’s the other person who’s misbehaving?
The key, though, is to understand that with a few simple mindset shifts you can find a lot more peace around just about anyone. But if you try to shift the behavior of others, you’re only going to drive yourself crazy.
Simple Things you can Practices that Bring Peace
Where could I find enough rubber to cover the rocky surface of the world? With just the rubber on the soles of my shoes. Think about it. It’s as if the whole world were covered as I walk. Likewise, I am unable to control external life situations, but I shall control my own mind. What need is there to control anyone or anything else?”
If you’ve nodded your head to anything you’ve just read, it’s time to…
1. Notice the story you’re telling yourself about the other person.
This is so important, whenever you find yourself stressed out and irritated by how someone else is behaving, first notice that your mind starts to create a story of anger and resentment about them. It’s about how they always behave in this irritating way, and how you are absolutely sick of them! This story is harmful. It immediately stresses you out, it keeps you exclusively focused on the negative qualities of the other person, and it ultimately makes you someone you probably don’t want to be.
So, do you best to see this story for what it is.
2. Interpret their negative behavior less personally.
When you sense negativity coming at you, give it a small push back with a thought like, “That remark (or gesture, or whatever) is not really about me, it’s about you (or the world at large).” Remember that all people have emotional issues they’re dealing with (just like you), and it makes them rude and downright thoughtless sometimes. They are doing the best they can, or they’re not even aware of their issues.
In any case, you can learn not to interpret their behaviors as personal attacks, and instead see them as non-personal encounters (like the rocky ground under your feet) that you can either respond to effectively when necessary (by putting your figurative shoes on), or not respond to at all.
3. Take positive control of negative conversations.
It’s okay to change the topic, talk about something positive, or steer conversations away from pity parties, drama, and self-absorbed sagas. Be willing to disagree with difficult people and deal with the momentary consequences. Some people really don’t recognize their own difficult tendencies or their inconsiderate behavior.
You can actually tell a person, “I feel like I’m being criticized.” You can also be honest if their overly negative attitude is what’s driving you away: “I’m trying to focus on positive things. What’s something good we can talk about?” It may work and it may not, but your honesty will help ensure that any communication that continues forward is built on mutually beneficial ground.
4. Model the behavior you hope to see.
When someone insists on foisting their drama on you, be an example of a pure existence. Disregard their antics and focus on compassion. Communicate and express yourself from a place of peace, from a place of love, with the best intentions. Use your voice for good, to inspire, to encourage, to educate, and to spread the type of behavior you want to see in others.
All of this, of course, is easier said than done. It takes practice. Even with all of the practising I have done, I sometimes catch myself being rude to people who are rude to me—I behave badly because they behaved badly. And even if the situation is absolutely their fault, my behavior only escalates the situation. So, I do my best to take a deep breath and set a good example of how to cope with anger and frustration. I try to be patient and compassionate with them—to demonstrate a positive way of handling difficult people.