Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Everyone has at least one difficult person that they encounter every day—if not dozens of them. People cut you off in traffic, take advantage of your generosity, throw trash in your front yard, cheat you, mistreat you, blame you for something you didn't do, and generally disrespect you in one way or another. It's easy to retaliate, scream, yell, get angry and call names, but what if we chose to look deep down inside ourselves and become better people instead?
We have all had a dysfunctional past. Parents screw up, siblings are terrible to you, and people can be just awful, especially to children. However, these people don't have to live your life. They don't go home with you at the end of the day, and they aren't concerned with how you are sleeping at night. At some point, we all have to make the decision between making lemonade from lemons or just complaining because they're sour.
I don't know if I'm starting to see things differently because I'm just getting older or if I'm just exhausted from being a mommy. Having children most certainly makes you look at life differently, especially when your every word and action gets thrown back at you by your toddler daily. There's nothing like a mirror that mimics you to make you look at yourself a little closer. I think my toddler is the most difficult person in my life right now, but I have my share of people that really upset me too.
Try Noticing Patterns
Are there things that always make you mad, or that happen frequently that bother you? When you start learning to look at situations from the perspective of fixing them, or getting rid of them in your life, your perspective changes. When I lived in Houston, Texas, it was the traffic that got me. People would drive slow in the fast lane, but me off, tailgate, and stop in the middle of the freeway. The dumb things that people do while driving could fill a book. But I hated being angry or frustrated every single day.
So when I learned that it was the traffic that was doing it, I changed my perspective. If something slowed me down, I chose to see it as a blessing. I must have been spared something awful in front of me, or maybe there was someone I would be able to positively impact because I had been slowed down. If someone cut me off, I thanked the Lord for sparing me from the wreck that could have just happened. Strangely enough, I started feeling thankful and stopped being angry.
Is There a Weakness in You That's Causing the Upsets?
I noticed recently that I have the least self-control when someone yells at me. I can go from perfectly fine to feeling like I'm going to explode in milliseconds when I'm yelled at. That is obviously a weakness for me. And now that I've identified that, I can work to fix it.
Does that mean it doesn't bother me anymore? Absolutely not. However, now I can try and head off the overwhelming feelings in me before it gets that far. With my toddler, I can get down on his level, speak quietly, and ask him why he's yelling. Instead of things getting heated, he quiets down in response to me and tells me what is going on. With strangers, I've learned to walk away.
Look Inside Yourself
Everyone has their triggers, and you are not exempt from that. What are your pet peeves and why? It's not someone else's fault that you're angry or annoyed. Why does it bother you? By getting to know you a little better, you might learn some things you didn't know.
This is a great time to identify traps that you keep getting caught in and let yourself go. You can choose not to step into them again, but you won't know what they are until you dig deep and really look inside yourself, and your past, for some answers.
Is There Something You Can Do to Change the Situation?
Kids are a great example. They reflect everything you do. If you are happy and laughing, they normally are too. If you are sad, they will likely cry as well. I think adults are very similar. The way you handle the situation can make or break it. You can choose to continue arguing or say, "I'm sorry you feel that way." You can get angry with the person who cut you off in traffic or choose to try and understand them. I'm sure you've cut someone off before as well.
Your perspective and your actions can dictate whether you are angry and your day is ruined, or if you can learn to be a better, happier person from the situation. What can you change about yourself to make the bad situations and the difficult people better? Is it a different outlook or a different response? Can you change your perspective and make it something positive?
Maybe something you need to do is to let someone go. If they are a negative influence and keep bringing you down no matter how hard you try and stay up, let them go. Get them out of your life. Stop being a character in their drama. There are lots of very dramatic people in this world that will drag you in because they enjoy it but don't want to be there alone.
It's protecting yourself, and possibly your family to say enough is enough. And you'll be really surprised at how much easier life will be without them. I don't encourage ignoring someone that is struggling, but you've got to know when you've done your part to help and when to hand it off to someone who is more capable.
Find Something to Laugh About
Laughter always makes things better. Research into psychology has shown that you can recode your brain with deliberate actions. Make bad interactions positive somehow, especially if you can laugh, and you train your brain not to be angry or distressed over that ever again. And laughter floods your body with endorphins, or happy chemicals, that make you feel good. It may have to be forced at first, but eventually, it will become natural.
Maybe it starts with, "I'm so glad I don't have to live with that person," but hopefully it will end with you being that person that can diffuse any situation with your smile and positive outlook. If that seems farfetched, that's fine. It may take some time to get there. It might even start with an inward chuckle that they have spinach in their teeth, which gets interpreted as happiness or positivity on the other person's part. Whatever works.
All I'm trying to say is that by focusing on what makes you frustrated, what you can do to change your feelings, becoming a better you, and living a better life yourself, you can make it a reality, and not just for you. Being happy is contagious. Smiling at others makes their day better. And being smiled at makes yours better. Be the change in your life.
Choose to reframe negativity from difficult people in your mind. You don't have to let anyone else control you. Take charge of your mind and learn from what upsets you. What a perfect chance to look inside yourself and learn why it upsets you so rather than blaming another. Make the change in you, and make your reality more positive. You can do it!
With a simple change of mind that this is what you want for your life and a little effort on your part, you'll be well on your way to learning life lessons from the difficult people in your life and making your reality more positive.
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness