Dealing with difficult people
Virtually everybody knows people who seem to be put into their lives for the sole reason of making it difficult. They either have excessive demands, are unnecessarily contrary or even outright mean and nasty. How can we deal with this all too common problem from a spiritual perspective?
First of all, we need to understand that difficult people are having a difficult time. Nobody who is genuinely happy and has a loving and fulfilling life is nasty on purpose. Real joy generates love — the wish to share one’s joy — so if someone behaves in a selfish or unloving way it is a sure sign that they are unhappy in themselves. This is true even if they appear to be happy. As a therapist, I have the opportunity to talk to thousands of people in depth about their feelings and I have found that people only get angry and demanding if they are under some sort of extreme stress.
The second thing I found is that virtually nobody acts nastily on purpose. The average person almost always believes that they are doing the right thing with a good motivation. This may seem unbelievable if we are at the receiving end of some very egotistical behaviour but it is nevertheless true. The real problem is ignorance — people believe they are doing good when in fact they are hurting other peoples’ feelings.
These two insights — that difficult people are unhappy and unaware of how hurtful they are will help us to be more compassionate and patient with them. Once we have that little bit of inner distance, we can then apply the ultimate remedy to dealing with difficult people. This remedy is to send love first to ourselves and then to the person who is stressing us out.
If you are one of those people who easily believes that everything is your own fault it is paramount that you take a lot of time to envelop yourself with loving light and wish yourself to be happy like a loving mother wishes for her child. Once we have done that, we need to do the same with our adversary. We need to envelop the difficult person with love just like we have done with ourselves. This may seem contrary to all human inclinations because, after all, why should we send love to someone who has harmed us? The answer is that love is the sublime healer of the universe and will restore peace and harmony to all our relationships or help us to end them in a harmonious way.
In my own life, I have worked in this way for many years with every single person who has made my life a misery: with boyfriends and ex-boyfriends, noisy neighbours, nasty colleagues, mean landlords, difficult friends, rebellious children and everyone else who caused some unpleasant ripples in my mind. I can say with confidence that sending love has never let me down and has restored peace and harmony to the most difficult situations within a matter of days. The same is true for the hundreds and thousands of clients who have used this ‘method’ for a multitude of conflicts.
To learn more about relationships please refer to Tara Springett’s book Soulmate Relationships. Tara holds an M.A. in Education and has post-graduate qualifications in gestalt therapy, body awareness therapy and transpersonal therapy. She is a fully qualified and licensed psychotherapist and counselor. Tara has worked as a drugs counselor, counselor for adolescents and general psychotherapist since 1988. Tara has been a dedicated Buddhist practitioner since 1986. In 1997 she received encouragement from her Buddhist teachers to teach meditation. Tara is the author of several self-help books. She has been featured in numerous publications and has appeared on various radio and television shows in Europe and the United States. Her website is: www.taraspringett.com.
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