Difficult People

Why we attract them and what we can learn from them

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I hate confrontation and I'll do just about anything to avoid it, often feeling like I've been walked over in the process. I especially dislike people who somehow take pleasure in bossing other people around or worst still, belittling them. Maybe it's the Aries in me, but I've always found that if you want something from someone a bit of respect and asking them nicely is a far better approach than tearing their self-esteem to shreds. Call me old-fashioned, but this whole fear-based culture that many companies now employ makes no sense: if you're a d**k to me, I'll quit my job not knuckle down and work harder for you, you douche bag! That said, there's often a lesson to be found in the people we find most difficult.

A wise and fairly attractive person once told me: 'People come into our lives for a season, a reason or for life.'(beautiful, right?) Sometimes that reason is super obvious, but other times it's just not. Now, I know what you're thinking, why would any of us want to attract a person or situation into our lives that's unpleasant? Believe me, it was a hard one for me to get my head around too, but have you ever thought that maybe that person was sent to you as a challenge, something to overcome in order to grow as a person, or even to learn something about yourself?

It's been said that what we dislike in others is often a reflection of what we dislike about ourselves. For example, when someone's rude to me, am I actually more annoyed that I can't stand up for myself and be rude back than the comment that was made toward me in the first place? When we judge a quality we don't like about someone are we really judging an aspect about ourselves that we don't like or find hard to accept. Not convinced? Why not try it next time someone drives you up the wall: In what ways are you similar? Do they bring out a side of you you don't like?

Dealing with difficult people isn't always as easy as walking away, especially if they are work colleagues or family members. The best approach is always compassion. Deep down no one ever intends to hurt anyone, we all have motives and reasons for why we behaviour in certain ways but that doesn't make us bad people. If we can learn to remove ourselves from the situation and put ourselves in the other person's shoes, we often find there's more to it than meets the eye. Is the person lonely, upset, under pressure, having family problems, scared to ask for help? I'm not saying it's ok for anyone to treat another person badly, but sometimes we're so quick to judge, gossip and punish someone when really they're just trying their best too. Buddhists take this art of compassion a step further in a meditation called metta bhavana. In this five step visualisation technique you not only forgive your 'enemy', you actually send them loving kindness and wish them well in their lives - now that's compassion! (https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/loving-kindness-meditation

There's no right or wrong way to show compassion, especially to someone you might have a problem with, the key is just to try. A compassionate state of mind isn't something we're born with or without, it's a habit, a practice, and the more you work on it the easier it will become and, as a result, the happier you'll be.


Liz Morphew

Psychologies Magazine Ambassador and Contributor, Singer Songwriter

Psychologies Magazine Ambassador & Contributor | Singer Songwriter


Go to the profile of Hanna Lambert
over 3 years ago

This is a great blog, Liz - it really resonates with me! x

Go to the profile of Liz Morphew
about 3 years ago

Aww thanks Hanna, is there a difficult person in your life right now? x