Have you ever dealt with a difficult person? You know the type: grumpy, critical, negative, angry, complaining, gossiping, and just a big pain in the derrière. Maybe, it’s your boss, friend, family member, or even your spouse or romantic partner. All of us know people like that. And, many times, we can’t just avoid the person or leave the relationship–we can’t quit our job; we have a lot invested in our marriage.
What do we do when we have to be around a negative or difficult person? The key is to learn to separate ourselves–our psyche, our emotional health–from the negativity of that individual. In psychology, there a emotional state known as Mood Contagion. The reality is that moods are contagious: You can be infected with either negativity or positivity when you are around other people. And, you can influence others the same way; you can either bring positive energy into a room, or you can carry negativity and despair with you.
The key for your emotional health is this: Put up a psychological force field, or shield, that protects you from the negative “emotional bullets” fired at you by people who are at a low level of psychological and spiritual development. Decide that you will not be infected by the emotional negativity of others. You will be immune to their lower nature.
Here are four secrets to immunizing yourself against difficult people.
1. See Them As Suffering From Themselves. People are their own reward and their own punishment. All of us live in our minds. Our minds can be a palace–full of pleasurable, happy thoughts–or a prison: full of negativity, complaints, regrets, and insecurities. When someone is criticizing you or being mean to you, realize that they are also suffering from the fiery force of their own words. Watch as their face becomes red, they tremble in anger, they clench their fists. Their blood pressure is going up, their mind is a whirl of aggression and pain. The reality is that they are harming themselves–physically and psychologically–with the very negativity they are trying to give to you. Instead of fearing them, or being angry at them, simply maintain a calm, compassionate state. Be like the doctor who doesn’t get angry or fearful when he or she sees a sick patient. The doctor simply gives medicine to the sick person–it is up to the sick person whether they want to take it. The doctor is not hurt in any way by the actions of the patient. The doctor simply offers help and that is all.
2. Refuse Their “Gift” of Negativity. Negativity is not really a gift; it is actually a booby trap that is primed to explode at a moment’s nervous. The person giving the negativity thinks its a gift because that is all they have to give. The key here is for you to refuse to accept that person’s negativity. When someone gives you a gift in real life, and you politely refuse it, where does the gift go? To the original gift-giver. As an example, if someone wants you to gossip about a friend, refuse the gift, say: “I don’t talk about other people when they’re not present. Thanks for the gift of gossip, but I don’t desire it. I give it back to you.” In this way, you will liberate yourself from the need to accept the negativity others try to give you, and you will be free from the consequences of that so called gift.
3. Learn the Reverse Lesson. Here’s a beautiful thought: Let the negativity of others teach you how to be the opposite. You can learn peace from an angry person, patience from a impatient person. Think of everyone in your life as a teacher–even the most difficult, aggressive, mean-spirited, and hateful person you can encounter. You learn the reverse lesson by seeing how much they suffer from their own negativity and weakness. You see the pained look on their face, their slumped posture, their destroyed relationships. Then, you say to yourself, “Thank God: I am not like them.” Try an experiment: To learn the Gift of Patience, go to the grocery store and observe all the rushed, worried, and stressed out people. Then, intentionally choose the longest line in the store and practice waiting. You might find some additional benefits: You can sharpen your conversational skills in line, you can think or mediate, and you can observe and learn from others. At any rate, you will have disciplined and mastered your mind to be patient. Remember, either you rule your mind, or your mind rules you.
4. Attract Your Own Level. People ask this question: Why does an insecure person attract an abusive one? The answer is simple: Because they are on the same low psychological level of development–only in different forms. The insecure person unconsciously attracts an abuser because that is what feels “natural” to them, while the abuser unconsciously attracts an insecure person because that is what feels “comfortable.” In reality, neither is truly natural or comfortablethey are both suffering from their own weakened states of mind. To attract a higher level person in your life, you need to be a higher level person. Work on yourself: read, think, meditate, pray, associate with higher level people (kind, loving, giving, compassionate); study yourself and others. Once you start to become a happier, more fulfilled, integrated human being, you will discover a miracle: The old negative “friends” and relationships in your life will fade away, and you will attract more loving, compatible, healthy, and fulfilling human connections.
The greatest secret of all is this: Love Your Higher Source, Love Yourself, and Love Others, and you will live life to the fullest.