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How Difficult People Help You Grow by Norehan Aly, MA.

Let’s face it, we all have people in our life that we find difficult to deal with. It can feel like each encounter with them is stressful and dreadful. You may even go through lengths to cancel or postpone interacting with them. Many people often go to therapy just to figure out how to deal with difficult people.

The truth is, you have zero control over what other people say, do, think, or feel. No matter how much we try to get people to treat us a certain way, there is just no guarantee. The fact of the matter is, we cannot change others.

The good news is that feeling uncomfortable around certain people time and time again, can help you uncover what those people trigger inside of you. It is often not the interaction itself that frustrated you; yet, it is more like a deep wound within you gets scratched each time you deal with a certain person.

Think about it.

Actually, feel it.

A difficult person often triggers something in you that you are not okay with. There may be a pattern of feeling a specific way each time you have interacted with that person, even if the person did not do much to equate their action with that feeling, but there is something that just resonates with you after you interacted with the difficult person.

Pay attention to how you feel after you’re around certain people, and trust your instincts because that resonating feeling is there for a reason.

Instead of doubting yourself and choosing to abandon your instincts, explore them.

Ask yourself, “what triggered me?”

Now, observe and listen to the thoughts and feelings that come up, without judging or rejecting them.

You may realize that you feel rejected by this difficult person, or perhaps you feel unseen. You may feel violated, unheard, ridiculed, disrespected or belittled. You may also feel smothered, hurt, or not given room to make mistakes. Those are all triggers and they are very uncomfortable to endure over and over again for the sake of maintaining a relationship.

However, this does not mean you must end the relationship or cut all ties with the difficult person. Rather, this is a major indicator for you to explore your potential areas of growth within yourself and interpersonally; because although we have no control over others, we have control over ourselves and how we socially assert ourselves. That usually starts with working on your relationship with yourself, often with the guidance of a qualified Counselor, which will also help you understand why you find certain individuals difficult and why you may tolerate them.

When you have a difficult person in your life, it is an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself on a deeper level.

On the other hand, when you have many difficult people in your life to the extent in which it affects most your relationships, then it may be time to evaluate who exactly is the difficult person… and do not be surprised if it ends up being you.

We all have relational blind spots. We can act upon our pure intentions or even believe that we are 100% accurate in reading others peoples’ minds, and we may also think that we know how people think about us. Yet, those are all fantasies because in reality, no matter how much of a good image you try to put out there, or how good of a friend you are, people will perceive you the way they perceive you. Each person has their own internal world that serves as their personal lens of the world, and you have no control over that.

However, we have control over ourselves. The art in dealing with difficult people (and transforming yourself if you feel like you are the difficult person) is in exploring your emotions toward yourself and others on a deeper level, often with a qualified Counselor that will help you become aware of your blind spots to improve those relationships. Once that deeper sense of awareness is developed and that journey of growth is embarked, difficult people will no longer have power over you.


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