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NOT TODAY: 7 Ways to Deal with Difficult People

Hello Lovelies!  Have you ever been floating on a cloud, in a marvelous mood and someone interrupts your bliss?  Is your immediate reaction to meet them with the emotion they put out?  After the interaction is your marvelous mood, zapped and negative too?  Well, sometimes you have to just say to yourself, not today, enemy.  I know, dealing with difficult people is easier said then done.

For most of my life, I’ve been a non-confrontational person.  Heck, many times I was the person who was abused or walked on in relationships.  But life has a way of either shutting you down completely or making you stand up to save your life and your mind.  Like a diamond, you rise out of the ashes, strong, bright and resilient.  I consider myself to be the latter, but the road to becoming a diamond is long and arduous.

I often say that I am a work in progress and still evolving.  At the end of many days I’m not happy with myself, and look to a new day for a fresh start.  I’m still not shining as brightly as I’d like to, but I’ll get there if I keep pushing.

After a negative interaction last week, I researched and found this model for dealing with difficult people on the Chopra Center’s website. I found the 7 steps to be very helpful to me.  I hope it helps you.

1. Use the S.T.O.P. Model to Avoid Reactivity

This acronym can be the most fundamental step in coping with a difficult personal relationship. S.T.O.P. stands for:

  1. Stop whatever you’re doing

  2. Take 3 deep breaths

  3. Observe how your body feels

  4. Proceed with kindness and compassion

No matter how challenging the difficult person or relationship is, this pause will help to derail the emotional reactions that are primed to take over in the heat of the moment.

2. See Through the Control Drama the Other Person Is Using

Control dramas are manipulative behaviors that people often fall into when their needs aren’t being met. There are four primary control dramas:

  1. Being nice and manipulative

  2. Being nasty and manipulative

  3. Being aloof and withdrawn

  4. Playing the victim or “poor-me” role

Control dramas are frequently learned in childhood as a strategy to manipulate others into giving you what you want. Interestingly, many people never outgrow their primary control drama or evolve to higher forms of communication.

When you witness one of these control dramas playing out in a difficult person, you can automatically become more understanding. Imagine the person you’re dealing with using the same control drama as a child. From that perspective you realize that this individual never learned another way to get their needs met and, as such, is deserving of your compassion. This simple and profound shift in perspective can take the entire relationship dynamic in a new direction.

3. Don’t Take it Personally

When you’re involved with a difficult person, it can feel like their words are a deliberate personal attack. This is not the case. Their reaction and behavior is not about you; it’s about them. Everyone is experiencing reality through personalized filters and perceptions of the world and your behavior is a direct result of those interpretations. A difficult person’s point of view is something that’s personal to them. In their reality, they are the director, producer, and leading actor of their own movie. You, on the receiving end, play only a small part in their drama.

In a similar manner they are possibly only bit players in your drama, so you can choose not to give the bit players of your life control over your happiness. If you take the situation personally, you end up becoming offended and react by defending your beliefs and causing additional conflict. In refusing to take things personally you defuse the ego and help to de-escalate a potential conflict.

4. Practice Defenselessness

This can be a powerful strategy when confronted with a difficult person. Being defenseless doesn’t mean you’re passive—you still maintain your personal opinion and perspective in the situation—but rather than engaging with the intention of making the other person wrong, you consciously choose not to be an adversary.

Being defenseless means you give up the need to be the smartest person in the room. You ask your ego and intellect to sit this one out and proceed with an open acceptance of the other person’s position. You don’t have to agree with their perspective (or even like it). The point of this process is to compassionately suspend your need to defend a particular point of view. An interaction with a difficult person doesn’t have to turn into a heated debate. Oftentimes, the other person simply needs to be heard. By allowing them to express themselves without resistance, they can fulfill that need and perhaps become more amicable. Establishing defenselessness creates space that allows for a more a compassionate and peaceful interaction.

5. Walk Away if Necessary

Difficult people can often draw you into a field of negativity. If you feel like you can’t maintain your awareness and objectivity, there’s nothing wrong with removing yourself from the situation. A toxic exchange can leave you feeling physically depleted and emotionally exhausted; if the above options aren’t helping you deal with the difficult person, walk away. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone; there’s no need to martyr yourself on the relationship battleground. You may have the best intentions for the exchange, but sometimes the most evolutionary option is to consciously withdraw from the interaction. This isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about stepping away from a toxic environment that’s dampening your spirit. Detach from the situation and trust the universe to work out the resolution.

6. See the Experience as an Evolutionary Opportunity

As challenging as it is, dealing with a difficult person can be a learning experience. Relationships mirror your inner world back to you and help open your eyes to those things you may not want to see. The qualities in another that upset you are often those aspects of yourself that you repress.

Recognize the petty tyrant in your life as a teacher who can help you learn what you haven’t yet mastered. Better yet, see in this person a friend who, as a part of the collective consciousness of humanity, is another part of you. As Ram Dass reminds says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” When you can see a difficult person as an ally on the journey you’re traveling together, you’ll be ready to answer the telling question, “What am I meant to learn in this situation?”

7. Resonate Compassion

Compassion is an attribute of the strong, highly evolved soul who sees opportunities for healing, peace, and love in every situation. Even when faced with a difficult person, compassion allows you to see someone who is suffering and looking for relief. Compassion reminds you that this person has been happy and sad, just like you have been; has experienced health and sickness, as have you; has friends and loved ones who care for them, like you; and will one day, grow old and die, just as you will. This understanding helps to open your heart to embrace a difficult person from the level of the soul. If you can think, speak, and act from this perspective, you will resonate the compassion that lives at the deepest level of your being and help you to transform your relationships.

All the best to you and I, as we journey along in this thing called life. And while you’re walking through, look fabulous.  Click the link below to shop my style!

Be blessed and until next time…

Love and light.



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