Difficult people and the lessons they facilitate can bless you, educate you and help you grow. Life is a classroom and everything that happens here can be a springboard to amazing growth, even the really hard things.
Think about some people who aggravate you, try your patience, irritate, anger or upset you. We all have some people who push our buttons, and the first step to resolving these difficult relationships is to recognize they are here as perfect teachers. When you see them as such, and you embrace your experiences with them as lessons, you will be surprised how much less aggravating they become. (Note: In this article I am just addressing how to deal with garden variety difficult people, not situations that involve abuse.)
Pick one of these difficult people to think about as you read this article. Ask yourself these simple questions:
Viktor Frankl, who wrote "Man's Search for Meaning" after being a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II, said, "In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning." If Frankl could choose to find meaning in his horrible suffering, I believe we can do it too. He also encourages us to see the difference between necessary suffering and unnecessary suffering. He said, "Unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic." When pain becomes self-inflicted, because the event is long over, growth happens as you let it go.
The important thing is to recognize that difficult experiences in your life have the potential to bless you. Here are some possible benefits or blessings that come from dealing with difficult people:
When you feel threatened or defensive around someone, this is your clue that there is a part of you that needs reassurance that you are safe and loved and that other people can’t diminish you or your life. They can only teach you and help you grow. At least, you have the power to see them this way, with this perspective, if you want to.
When you choose to see difficult people as teachers (not jerks), you will find you have the answers and the power to rise above the fray and deal with them in a confident loving way.
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.