Interacting With Difficult People

Understanding your limitations when dealing with difficult personalities is key for having peace of mind. People have difficult personalities for various reasons: some have psychological issues which compromises their personality at some level, some have been hurt and traumatized early on in life (childhood), and many have spiritual issues. So lets look at each of these a little closer. Any of  these issues could lead to a difficult personality.

Psychological issues: this could include but not limited to diagnosed and un diagnosed mental health disorders such as Bipolar and Borderline Personality. There are many other personality disorders, but the key to understanding these issues is to know that in spite of being diagnosed with a disorder, individuals can live loving productive lives and co-exist with others in a healthy manner. When those struggling with a disorder are not able to form healthy relationships, sometimes it might be due to their lack of medication compliance along with talk therapy. Often, individuals attempt to used medication without talk therapy, which may not be the best idea. Talk therapy is important because it provides the opportunity to learn new coping skills to deal with personality deficits as well as how to communicate such deficits to friends and love ones. Usually when people with personality disorders are receiving consistent treatment they are much easier to interact with.

Childhood trauma: childhood trauma unfortunately is very common and can include sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and disrupted attachment (extreme neglect). Any of these issues left untreated can lead to disruptions in healthy personality creation and growth. When individuals suppress emotions and symptoms related to childhood abuse or neglect they have a difficult time forming healthy attachments and may have many unpredictable, abusive, and dangerous relationships. Those with childhood trauma issues not only have difficulty attaching themselves emotionally to others, but they also have trouble allowing others to attach to them (spouse, friends, and children).

Spiritual issues: this may include but is not limited to a connection and a belief that God exist and that the bible (his living word) can change, heal, and guide them through life. Many do not have an understanding, belief, or connection to God. Many are attempting to figure out life’s meaning. These things are best understood when a connection is made to God. Those that do not have a relationship with God often find themselves angry, insecure, panicky, ill etc. because they feel lost, and find themselves unfilled in all aspects of life.

So what do you do if you are interacting with a difficult person? Well it depends on why they are difficult which will determine how you should react and interact with them. It also depends on the nature of your relationship with the individual. For instance, because I am a psychotherapist I tend to have a higher level of tolerance when dealing with difficult personalities, because I have a unique understanding of what is possibly making them difficult this understanding allows me to be more patient than the average person (at least I think so).

As Christians, I think that we should always walk in love and practice patience with others, but I know there are times when others make this a difficult task. Which is why it is important to determine the level of relationship involvement that is present, for instance spouses and close friends or even family may require more work. This is because we love them, and often are stuck with them for life. At the same time, consideration should also be given to those who are dealing with their issues, the person going to therapy, taking medication, and trying to establish a connection with God should probably be allotted more patience. These things take time and will probably be an ongoing process (like all of us). So maybe we don’t invest as much time and energy with people that we do not interact with regularly, as this may lead to frustration, but we invest more time with loved ones.

What about the difficult person who is NOT attempting to better themselves? It is in this situation where sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. I say this because you cannot change others, you can only change yourself and the manner in which you react to them. So, the most difficult scenario then becomes the difficult personality, who is within close proximity, and is refusing to change or seek help.

What should you do if this is your situation? Hopefully the following will be helpful:

1. I am a strong believer in prayer, not only for myself but I pray for others (healing, understanding, guidance).

2. Limit conversations and interactions, understand who and what you are dealing with, accept people for who and what they are (often wounded).

3. Lower expectations, sometimes we have expectations that are too high for others to achieve, especially if we are interacting with a wounded person who has not been healed, they may not be able to interact in a positive manner.

4. Arm yourself everyday, with a word from God, this means that we are protected and strengthened; making it difficult for evil spirits to penetrate.

5. Acceptance, that you cannot change others, only yourself. We often want others to change, but we forget that maybe we are the ones who need to change, maybe this difficult person is a test from God to develop something in you or to remove negative qualities from you (judgement, anger, controlling personality etc.)

6. Understanding, because it is imperative that you develop compassion for others, and know that when others are acting ugly that maybe they do not know any better, quite possibly they are in some sort of pain which manifest itself in a difficult personality.

7. Stop ruminating, in the negativity of the person or situation, when we dwell on our problems or fears, we give them power to grow and manifest in our lives on a large-scale. Don’t gossip or share stories about the broken souls in your life that present as difficult personalities (co-workers, friends, spouse, siblings, or parents).

8. Examine yourself, and find out why this person is so difficult for you to interact with. Maybe, just maybe, they reflect the parts of your personality that are not developed or healthy, maybe it is a sign that you need to work on your self.

9. Take your power back, sometimes difficult personalities are like bullies. They can only bother you if you allow them too, if you respond in a different manner, then they will usually stop or move on to someone else, or you learn to become strong enough not to allow their behaviors to affect you.

The Rally Around Relationship Sin

When we are behaving badly, what is the motivation?  Why do we allow ourselves to be pulled into more sin and dysfunction with the encouragement of others? How often have you listened to or participated in conversations such as women encouraging other women to engage in negative sexual acts, or men encouraging other men to abuse women? Who do you take your counsel from? What qualifies that person to counsel you? When others encourage certain behaviors in you, do you ever take the time to question their motivation? I have experienced and observed people who encourage others to do wrong, and their motivation is usually for selfish gain, wanting to disrupt or gain something in the progress.

How do you determine who is worthy of giving you counsel? Well, for starters the person who counsels you whether friend or family should be someone who has values that are aligned with yours, and your values should be aligned with God’s. Often we allow others to give us advice when they are simply not qualified to do so; and or have the wrong motivation. We cannot afford to arbitrarily allow others into our lives and advise us when they are not qualified to do so, because this could lead to more negative behaviors.

Negative Behaviors that are often encouraged:

  1. Promiscuous sexual behaviors
  2. Disrupting marital vows
  3. Stealing from work or unknown people
  4. Gossiping about others
  5. Retaliating against others
  6. Lying for personal gain or to avoid responsibility
  7. Belittling others for a so-called justified reason or cause
  8. Betraying the confidence of others because of a lack in loyalty
  9. Encouragement to physically harm others
  10. Encouragement to evade responsibility such as parenting, paying childhood support, and admitting to or serving a sentence for illegal behaviors
  11. Encouragement to use drugs or alcohol

Others may benefit from your negative behaviors in the following ways:

  1. Dismantling a relationship that you treasure
  2. Causing you pain misery
  3. Positioning themselves to have a relationship with you that would otherwise be prohibited
  4. Receiving support in engaging in their sinful behaviors. Ex. encouraging you to commit adultery, lie, cheat, or steal (they may feel less guilty if they have company in committing their negative acts
  5. When others are afraid of trying and progressing they will encourage you not to try as well, they cannot stomach the idea of you being successful They are more comfortable with you remaining on their level

You may be easily influenced and coerced into sinful behaviors if:

  1. You are more interested in pleasing people and not in pleasing God.
  2. You are not secure within yourself, and believe whatever others tell you.
  3. You are too lazy to read and study the bible to find out God’s plan for your life.
  4. You live in fear because you are afraid to confront your fears.
  5. You are easily manipulated

Before Its Too Late……..

When is it ever a good idea to end a marriage? When do you cut your losses? I’m a firm believer in working through marital discord such as sexual issues, financial issues, communication issues etc., but some issues cannot be remedied. Issues like domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, financial irresponsibility such as refusing to work or reckless spending. If children are physically, verbally, or emotionally abused, then the marriage should end. Lastly, having a spouse who is checked out or refuses to take responsibility for actions may lead couples down the road to divorce, it takes two people working for a common goal for a marriage to work.

It is better to make the decision to end a marriage early, especially before children are added to the relationship. There should not be any shame in ending a marriage before too much time is invested into a dysfunctional relationship.

Because of the above reasons, marriage should begin on a strong foundation and every effort should be made to get to know the other person. Remember that marriage is a commitment and the relationship leading to the marriage should be private, so that outside forces cannot break the covenant.

Change Yourself and Change Your Marriage

I am a firm believer that you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. Often, couples come to counselors for counseling because they are upset with their spouses’ actions. Usually one of the two appear to be miserable and spend a considerable amount of time nagging, complaining, and criticizing the other. This is a waste of time, couples have to realize that they do not have the right to force someone else to change. Who is to say whether or not someone needs to change? If someone does need to change wouldn’t the change be more effective if the individual came to this realization on their own? Individual change cannot occur because someone demands for it to happen or because they are shamed into change. For change to occur and to be meaningful it needs to happen because the individual sees a need, and desires to make it happen.

The best approach is to change yourself which will change your marriage. When you change the manner in which you respond to others, they will in return change the way they behave.

Being Authentic

One thing I know for sure is that God created us in a perfect form, and that it is our job to love and accept ourselves. When we do not love ourselves we create an injustice toward God, who created us in his perfect form. It is our duty to love ourselves, treat ourselves well, and honor and respect our bodies. One of the ways in which we dishonor ourselves is by trying to be something we are not. For instance when we attempt to change our sex or overall physical appearance. Imagine the God above looking down on his children and seeing so many miserable individuals. Individuals who have been hurt, and individuals who do not believe in themselves.

No one has the right to mistreat you, but unfortunately it happens. Your job is to deflect their hatred and abuse. Your job is to persevere and become the wonderful individual that God created  you to be. There  is  nothing wrong with you, you are wonderful just the way you are. You are smart enough, pretty enough, kind enough, and talented enough. Don’t allow others to trick you into thinking that you are not an awesome individual. Be true to yourself, don’t try to fit the molds that others have created. The only person you need to please is yourself and God, if you are pleasing God then you are on  the right track.

Guarding Your Heart

The heart is not only one of the most vital organs in our body it is also one of the most sensitive organs that requires protection physically and emotionally. Last night I was reading the following passage in my amplified bible “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:21, 23 AMP)” What I learned from this scripture is that the heart is the center of all that is good in human beings. It is important that we protect our heart because once our heart is damaged it is difficult for us to function.

After reflecting on the importance of the heart I began to examine ways that I have allowed my heart to be damaged, because I failed to protect it. So, here goes a little disclosure; in the past I was guilty of allowing others to hurt me and therefore hurting my heart. Every time I allowed my mate (past not present) to verbally assault me, every time I entered into impossible relationships that I knew ahead of time would not be able to fulfill my emotional needs, and every time I pretended I had control over others and their poor decision-making, therefore blaming myself when they inflicted pain upon themselves.

Whenever I listen to negative messages that counter the positive messages I normally tell myself, I am guilty of not guarding my heart. Words are some of the most common ways in which we do not guard our heart. I have learned that I am responsible for guarding my heart and I must take this task seriously. So many times I had difficulty functioning because my heart was afflicted with pain. Pain that I allowed into my life and my heart. Now that I am wiser and stronger I have learned to guard my heart, and I have learned that this is an ongoing task; I have to work on this task everyday.

Be sure to guard your heart!

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a difficult task, yet necessary in our everyday lives. There is a common misconception when it comes to forgiveness, this misconception is that by forgiving others we are condoning negative or hurtful behaviors, that by forgiving we are showing weakness. Both ideologies are incorrect. The bible states ” For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14 AMP)” I believe the point of this scripture is that, our goal is to be God like, and in doing so we have to practice forgiveness. God constantly and consistently forgives us of our sin, so we must do the same to those in our lives.

Practicing forgiveness releases us from internal pain, forgiveness allows us to move away from the past and embrace our future, while being productive during our present. Holding ourselves in un-forgiveness is the equivalent of living in a prison, it propels us into being unproductive. Forgiving others takes strength and courage, it does not mean that we allow others to mistreat us or that we allow others to abuse us. It simply means that we move on with our lives, we learn from the past, and we don’t worry about whether or not others will hurt us. We simply live in the peace and joy that God has granted all of us. Don’t allow yourself to live in the prison of un-forgiveness.