I’ve had countless conversations over my life with friends and family on how to deal with difficult people. In life at some time or another, that will be something we are all faced with. I’ve been to plenty of counseling discussing for hours solutions on how to handle them, how to create boundaries, and the best tactics to cut the cord – and how to know when it’s time to make that decision.
These difficult people may be your friends, or your family. They may be casual acquaintances, or people you have to deal with on a regular basis. Regardless, it can be exhausting, overwhelming, and frustrating trying to find a healthy balance with them.
I’ve prayed for many years over different situations with people I love, and people I didn’t like much at all. Maybe you’re clinging on to an unhealthy relationship longing for the person to become who you want them to be. This analogy came to mind a while back during a prayer session specifically on that topic:
“It’s like when you’re dating someone who is not as interested as you are. They may not be physically or even verbally abusive, but you put more effort in than they do. You text or call desperately waiting to hear back, only to be disappointed by no return, or the response to be insufficient, purposely hurtful, or confusing. In an effort to help, you try to reach out your hand, hoping to pull them out of a place you deem as unhealthy. But your attempt is rejected. Again, an unfulfilling response. The hard fact becomes clear, they aren’t as interested as you. Not as interested in a healthy relationship, a healthy life, or a healthy self. How painful and defeating is that? You start wondering why your help wasn’t enough, you thought you could fix it. You question your self worth and wonder what you did wrong. You wonder if you deserve the negativity and disappointment, and convince yourself maybe you’re the reason you can’t get along or can’t be better. But you can’t fix the broken. Only they can do that for themselves. And…
IT’S NOT YOU IT’S THEM.”
Your worth comes from God alone.
1 Corinthians 7:23
“You have been bought and paid for by Christ. You belong to Jesus. How much does that make you worth?”
These people and my need to fix relationships has caused more arguments in my marriage, self doubt within my soul, and more tears and bitterness at times than I would like to admit. I do not have all the answers on how to adequately deal with these situations or people, but here are a few things that I have rested in after many wasted hours of handling it wrong:
SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES.
You have a right to protect yourself, and your family. Some things will work for you, and some won’t. But ultimately you get to decide. You choose what relationship you have with others. Your best option may not be to completely cut them out, but all relationships good or bad need boundaries, and some you have to strictly set in stone.
PRAY FOR THESE PEOPLE.
I still grit my teeth doing this at times. It doesn’t always feel fair after you have been hurt to do this. But it is something God calls us to do. Praying for them doesn’t set them free, it frees you. Plus, isn’t there a quote that the most unloveable people, need it the most?
Matthew 5:44 says:
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
TAKE TIME BEFORE YOU RESPOND.
And sometimes don’t respond at all. If you can’t handle it maturely, give it time to calm down. You have the ability to take a difficult situation with a person like this, and claim control over it. When you let your emotions take the wheel, you aren’t able to keep the situation level. And depending on who you are dealing with, this can be gas to the fire.
STOP EXPLAINING YOURSELF.
You don’t need to justify yourself to anyone. That was something I fought with for years. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of how you’re healthy, and they aren’t. Plus, it’s not your place to prove. They’ll do that themselves. At the end of the day, we are judged alone in front of God. No one is beside you. So focus on your best self.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.
Is the relationship or person destroying your peace? Is it because you are letting them control it, or because you truly can’t escape it? If it is an unhealthy situation, pray for discernment on when to walk away. If it is causing your family, marriage, or personal self strife, pain, and unnecessary stress – pray about how to cut back, or cut the cord all together.
SOME PEOPLE WILL NEVER CHANGE.
Whether they don’t have the tools to, or just plain lack effort, understand some people will never change. They don’t want to work on themselves. (re-read that you all!!)
**they don’t want to be better (whether you say but they neeeed to or not). But that does NOT mean you have to follow suit. What is life is we aren’t constantly trying to improve ourselves? Inappropriately the song from Rhianna “work” pops into mind here.
TAKE THE GOOD PARTS:
And sometimes you can’t, or don’t want to completely cut them out. In this case, take the good parts of these people. Obviously you are keeping them around for some reason, and it’s not always realistic to be able to (without severing deep cords), walk away. So take the good. What parts of this person are positive and healthy? Enjoy those pieces, and have your boundaries established for the bad. You can always put your foot down when the bad part rears it’s ugly head. And you don’t need any explanation for walking away at that moment. I love some people who are AMAZING at this. My admiration for them is huge.
I read an amazing article a few weeks ago on a specific type of difficult person. It is incredibly educational, and a very important piece. Take the time to read it – it’s worth the effort.
20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths And Psychopaths Use To Silence You
Hope this helps you on your journey!