This was first published on KSL.com
Think of some people in your life that you struggle to get along with, judge, dislike, or who have behaviors that push your buttons or drive you crazy.
These are very important people in your life because they show you things about yourself and your values. They show you parts of yourself that you struggle to love, and they can be amazing teachers if you decide to see them that way.
These people typically bother or annoy you for one of three reasons.
The 4 basic value systems
Intrinsic value system (focus on people)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value relationships, people, personal growth, connection, communication and spirituality. You would rather spend your time connecting and talking with people than anything else. You value the things in the other three categories, but you might undervalue getting tasks done, time efficiency, strict rules, systems, order and structure.
You tend to be bothered by people who are arrogant, selfish, don't listen, get angry, are narcissistic, oblivious, discourteous, unfriendly or are cold or rude to other people. You don't understand people who don't put connecting with people first.
Extrinsic value system (focus on tasks)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value tasks, getting things done, time efficiency, hard work, creation, creativity, discipline, organization and accomplishing goals. You would rather spend your time getting work done or accomplishing goals than anything else.
You also value the things in the other categories, but you might tend to undervalue strict rules, systems, communication, connection and listening to people. You value the people in your life most, but you don't always show it because you are so busy getting tasks done.
You tend to be bothered by people who give unsolicited advice, are bossy, arrogant, critical or controlling, and rule followers, as well as people who don't pay attention, seem entitled, lazy, messy, or consistently late, unorganized or irresponsible. You don't understand people who talk for hours don't get tasks finished.
Extrinsic value system (focus on things)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value material things, quality, beauty, creativity, art, building things, competition, success and being the best at what you do. You would rather spend your time earning and buying things, being creative or productive, or building things.
You also value the things in the other categories, but you might tend to undervalue communication, connection and listening to others, organization, rules, systems and learning things that aren't useful.
You tend to be irritated by or judge people who don't care about appearances, seem lazy or messy, are competitive, don't value success, don't work hard, or are irresponsible or inconsiderate.
Systemic value system (focus on ideas)
If this is your dominant value system you highly value organization, knowledge, learning, systems, rules, processes, principles, values and doing the right things the right way. You have strong moral values and love sharing ideas, teaching and learning. You would rather spend your time learning, creating systems, teaching processes, doing good work, caring for family and doing the right thing.
You also value the things in the other categories, but you might tend to undervalue listening, empathy, acceptance, connection, appearances, material things and creativity. You tend to be irritated by or judge people who act like know-it-alls, have to be right, are overly opinionated, don't listen, interrupt, are oblivious or discourteous, don't pay attention or are careless, lazy, irresponsible or inconsiderate. People who do wrong or who disagree with your moral principles also really bother you.
Importance of the value systems
Understanding what you value and undervalue helps you understand why you are bothered by certain people. You may not realize it, but you subconsciously believe that the way you are (and what you value) is the right way and everyone should be like you. But the world needs people who are different from you; it needs people with different strengths to make everything run.
We need people who place listening to others above getting things done. We also need people who put getting things done first. We need rule followers and we need rule breakers to push limits. There is a place for everyone.
People who are different from you can also provide amazing lessons. They show you the things you need to work on and change because you always judge people who have the same bad behaviors you have but don't like about yourself. These people serve as mirrors for you and they can help you to both forgive yourself and make needed changes.
People you don't like also give you the opportunity to stretch the limits of your love, which helps you learn to love yourself. Your ability to love others with their faults and flaws is tied to your ability to love yourself in spite of your faults and flaws. As you learn to accept and appreciate them, your ability to love yourself improves.
The 4 A's
Below is a 4-step process — The 4 A's — which help you practice accepting both yourself and the people who bother you.
Notice the bad behaviors in yourself and the bad behavior in others that bothers you. What is it really about? Is it tied to your value system? Can you understand why this behavior pushes your buttons? Does this person threaten your sense of safety? You can't work on changing this until you gain awareness around what it is. Write down a list of the people and behaviors that bother you and commit to working on shifting your mindset around them.
Practice honoring and respecting each person's right to be the way they are. They are on their unique, perfect classroom journey, which is very different from yours. We have different value systems, life experiences and personality traits, but we all have the same intrinsic value as every other person on the planet. We all have things we need to change and work on, but we have a right to be where we are in our unique process of growth. Allow every person to be where and who they are, and have tolerance, compassion and respect for them.
This is about accepting these people for their differences, variety, interest, adventure and lessons they provide you. You can embrace the experience of having these interesting (yet challenging) people in your life. You can accept them as perfect teachers in your classroom and even embrace them. As you practice this and truly send love and compassion their way, you will find your capacity to love the darkest parts of yourself will increase. The more you accept others, the more you will accept yourself.
Everyone has something to teach you and is making a contribution to your journey. Maybe it lies in causing your problems that you then get the opportunity to work through and solve. Maybe it lies in pushing your buttons so you get to work on patience, flexibility and compassion. Whatever it is, each person is serving you in some way. Work towards feeling grateful and even appreciating them for the role they play in your classroom. You must also work on appreciating your own faults and flaws for the beautiful lessons they provide: They keep you humble, make you less judgmental and give you opportunities to grow.
This doesn't mean you have to be friends, hang out or have relationships with the people who bother you. It just means that you practice seeing them as the lesson they are and appreciating them from afar so you can have more positive feelings than negative ones.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.