How to Be with Difficult People and Not Lose Yourself.
You’re sitting across from Uncle Joe. You love Uncle Joe, yet when you see him there is a feeling in your stomach: you’d rather be any place other than sitting across from him. Uncle Joe is opinionated, closed-minded, and could care less about your opinion¬–other than to tell you how many ways you are wrong.
This scene and ones like them play out in families and work places every day. Your spouse, best friend, family member or co-worker are always “right,” and when you try to engage in meaningful conversation or give another opinion, it feels like entering into a battle you can’t win. You leave feeling angry, overwhelmed, beat up, and tired.
So what do you? Keep quiet? Avoid? Engage and spar back?
If this sounds like you and you leave these conversations feeling like you have given away your sense of self, there is another way. Here are 3 things you can practice before the conversation even starts that will help you be with the person who is difficult and not lose your sense of self.
1. Think about what is important to you in this relationship. Is it being right? Is it being heard? Or is it to love them, be in relationship with them? Spend some time getting honest with yourself about what is important. What are your motives in engaging them?
2. Reflect on whether you are living in fantasy or reality with this person. Are you wanting to have a conversation with a mother of your making, or the one you have? Do you wish your boss was more open? Are you wishing for a boss that doesn’t exist in the person you are dealing with? Letting the fantasy (or expectations) die and really seeing the person you are encountering is important.
3. Do some self-care. If possible, make sure you are well rested; you aren’t hungry, etc. before meeting them. Meditate or have quiet time. Meet with a friend or guide and talk it out a bit. If you are visiting, can you stay some place away from this person to have some down time? Do what you need to do to make sure you are feeling good about yourself before the encounter.
Sometimes there isn’t the luxury of prep time before meeting a difficult person and next week, I can share what to do during a challenging encounter. Practicing these three things on a regular basis will give you the foundation to encounter difficult people even when it’s unexpected. You will feel more confident and compassionate in all areas of life.
If you would like to learn more, please check out the Living from the Heart series or our new Supportive Packages. Learning to engage in a heart-centered way with others is just that, a learning, a choice. Know we are here to support you as you practice and learn.
Would you like to learn more? I can continue this next week!