Episode 29: How to Love Difficult People

Episode Summary

In every area of our lives, we interact with people that we think are difficult. In reality, there are no difficult people. There are just people. Who do stuff. And then we have lots of thoughts about the things they do and the things they say and the ways that they behave, and then we make that mean that they are difficult.

One of the most powerful things you can learn is that the only thing that makes other people difficult is our interpretation of them.  We are viewing them through the lens of "difficult."

This means that if it is only our thinking that makes someone difficult, then when we attach this label to someone, we are the ones that are difficult—and making our life and our relationships difficult.  

In this episode of the podcast I'll teach you how to see that it's only ever our thinking that is the problem, and in that is the solution to every difficult relationship we have.

The truth is:

  1.  The only difficulty is how we feel about us when we are around the "difficult" people in our lives.
  2.  Other people are just being who they are.  The problem is when we expect this to be different.
  3.  The "difficult" people in your life are your teachers.  We are here to learn how to love.  Who better than them to teach you how to do just that?

It is liberating and life-changing to understand that if you did not see the "difficult" people in your life as a problem, then you could just be free to love them…and that my friends is 100% awesome.


Episode Tools and Questions

Difficult People Don't Exist

The truth is that difficult people are only difficult because you think they are difficult.  

If you have difficult people in your life,it is because you are seeing them as difficult.  It is only ever our own interpretation of someone else's actions or words that makes someone else difficult.

By interpreting the people as "difficult," then we are being difficult and making the relationship with them difficult.  In other words, your brain and its perception is labelling someone else "difficult" and that is making you difficult as a result.

How to Eliminate Difficult People From Your Life

Knowing that "difficult" is only your brain's interpretation is the very best thing I could ever tell you, because it means that to eliminate difficult people from your life you only have to change you and how you see others.

And—in even more awesome news—you are the only one you can actually change. This works out beautifully. You are the only person you can hange and you are the only person you need to change to change everything else.

Powerful Thoughts and Questions to Consider

These three principles can help you as you work to love the difficult people in your life.

1.  The only difficulty is you.

When there are people in our lives who behave in a way that we don’t agree with or we don’t like, it is never being around them that is difficult. The hard part is being around ourselves when we are not loving them, when we are judging them, and when we are wanting them to be different.

We don’t like ourselves when we’re judging and resenting and  then we blame them for how bad we feel.

In other words, its not someone else's actions or words or behavior that is difficult. It is our own. We don’t like who we are around them. We don’t like who we become inside. We don’t’ like being with us when we stop loving. It feels terrible inside our own heads.  

When we stop loving others, we punish ourselves.  Remember, they get to be who they are, and you get to be who you want to be. You don’t have to punish you for their behavior.  

Ask yourself:

How am I punishing me for their behavior?

How have I not been accepting responsibility for my own behavior?

What am I doing that I am blaming them for?

2.  Other people are just being who they are.

Most of the "difficult" people we encounter are just being who they are. They’re busy being who they’ve always been. How they act. What they say. How they interact. Their behavior has been cultivated over a lifetime. Just like you and me, right?

Each one of us behave in a manner that is learned from our experience. So, how other people act isn’t necessarily difficult. But because it is different from our expectation, we perceive it to be difficult.

Ask yourself:

What is the truth I have been resisting about this person and who they are?

What has been consistent that I wish would change? 

What behavior do I think the other person needs to change in order for me to feel better?

What might happen if I expected the other person to behave as they do, rather than spend my time wishing they would change?

Can I just let them be them?

3.  The "difficult people" are your teachers.

The people who act differetny than you think they should, are your teachers. They are teaching us about us. They give us a chance to see what we think of ourselves and develop our capacity for loving. They reveal ourselves to us. They reveal where we are lacking and how where the barriers are to our loving.

As Pema Chodron teaches, these people reveal the patterns in the our brains that still need work.

What if they are the way you become who God wants you to be?

What are they teaching me about love?

The other person is 100% lovable—why am I choosing not to love them?

What do I think I am gaining by not loving?

Episode Notes

Mentioned in the podcast:

  • Kris Plachy:  “As long as you continue to yell in your mind about how someone should change or be different, you will not find a solution to work within the situation. You will only find more challenges. Just like waves, people are generally that consistent. We can usually plan on people being exactly like we’ve known them to be. Sometimes, we can almost chuckle when difficult people behave exactly as we expect them to. We can at least no longer pretend to be surprised when they act as they always do. People don’t change for your reasons; they change for their own. Yelling at them to be different doesn’t work. Understanding this and accepting this invitation is probably one of the most liberating gifts you can give yourself.”
  • Pema Chodron: "If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teachers."
  • Pema Chodron: "Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back.  They are like messengers that show us with terrifying clarity exactly where we're stuck."
  • James Wedmore: Podcast Episode #302: How to Solve Any Problem
  • Albert Einstein: "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

Episode Transcript

To read or download a written transcript of the entire episode, simply click the link below.



50% Complete

Get the Transcript!

Go next level!  Read and study the transcript of this podcast episode or download a PDF.