Face it. Difficult people will be crossing our paths over the next two weeks. Now is a good time to discover the secrets to enjoy them like never before!
You know who I’m talking about, right? People who don’t understand or like you, people who lie to you, annoy you, or just plain bore you. These folks make our stomachs turn when we imagine interacting with them.
You have a choice today. You can drift into these interactions, fully expecting them to annoy you, or you can take the bull by the horns and create experiences that are challenging, growth-producing and positive.
First, embrace this as an opportunity to grow. Imagine that God has sent them to you to expand your capacity to live from a place of compassion and courage. When a difficult person walks towards you it is like a light on your dashboard flashing “prepare to grow!” What kind of person do you want to be? This is a chance to grow in that direction.
Second, surrender any bitterness and resentment now. Dallas Willard says “anything you can do with anger you can learn to do better without anger”. This could be your moment to get out from under the burden of resentment. Nelson Mandela said that resentment is like a poison you drink hoping it will kill your enemy. Surrender it. If you are struggling with this, get help. Check out my “Releasing Resentment” guided meditation; it is created from solid research about retraining the brain to release resentment.
Third, get strategic and initiate a plan to keep your engagement positive while avoiding potentially explosive topics. Start with taking account of his or her genuine goodness. Make a list of things you appreciate about your difficult person. (I know; it will take work. Prepare early!) Second, plan ahead to guide conversations down paths that stay positive. If politics trigger her annoying diatribes, come prepared to ask questions about her family, job and recent movies and books.
Finally, take a fresh shot at empathy. Difficult people typically carry hidden suffering. In fact, the irritable feeling we often get is a good signal about how they often feel. Put another way, if it is that difficult being around her, imagine what it must be like to be her!
Yes, the days ahead, often punctuated with prayers for “Peace on Earth”, will involve dealing with difficult people. Imagine what it would be like if we seized this moment as an unparalleled chance to grow, get rid of useless resentment and expand our capacity for empathy. Peace on Earth is possible. It starts now. It starts with you and how you handle the difficult people in your life.