Dealing with difficult people. Radical Compassion.
Updated: Apr 27
How do you deal with difficult people? Do you just avoid them by spending less to no time with them? Do you cut them out of your life pretending they didn’t exist?
What if you can´t avoid them nor cut them out of your life? What if this difficult person is someone you are bound to meet over and over again. Maybe it´s your co-worker, your boss, someone in your wider circle of friends, your flatmate, your partner, your spouse.
Sometimes you can´t choose to leave an unhealthy relationship, sometimes you are forced by certain circumstances to stay in a situation with a difficult person.
This is currently happening in our flat. I´m living with two other people; one of whom only moved in recently at the beginning of September. I´m not going into the details of what happened. Let´s just say that a lot has gone wrong between the new flatmate and my other flatmate and me; so wrong that it cannot be fixed.
By now we know that he will move out in a few days at the end of this months. This is such a relief.
The past weeks have been a true struggle for me. A struggle to stand up for myself without getting defensive and without attacking. A struggle between creating boundaries for myself and keeping an open heart towards my flatmate.
I have had moments where I wanted to jell at him and even just punch him. I felt myself almost slipping back into old behaviours of aggression. The urge to resort to old habits became so strong, at times I had to leave the room, to not fall back into the trap of merely reacting with anger and violence.
The whole situation almost feels like a test. As if the universe has sent me this new flatmate to test out how I will respond, how this will make me feel.
Will this disturb my inner peace?
Will I return to my old response patterns of reacting with anger?
Will this leave me feeling agitated and unsettled?
Or: Will I maintain my inner peace?
Will I find a new of handling the situation?
Will I act out of love and compassion?
I believe (I know for myself) that at our inner most centre we are all the same, we are all light, we are all love. There is no difference between you and me, between someone you like and someone you find difficult. The same energy runs through all of us, the differences appear only in the physical world, in the material existence.
Maybe this sounds too far out there for you. Let me put it into less spiritual words:
We are all the same in our need for love. All that we do is either because we want to be loved, or because we want to avoid not being loved (avoiding not being loved, doesn´t necessarily mean that you are loved, it might just mean that you are not experiencing any hatred or harm).
All too often we are motivated by fear, the fear of not being loved. We have grown up believing certain things about ourselves, that now in our adult lifes cause us to behave certain ways when we feel threatened (our ego feels threatened). We have built walls around ourselves, around our hearts, that we believe are keeping us safe while in truth they are keeping us from experiencing true love.
And this is how I approach the current situation with my flatmate. Even though we have our discrepancies here in the physical world and we might not find common ground right here right now, we are still the same. All that he says and does is out of his need to defend himself. He can only react like this as this is his way of standing up for himself. Underneath this lies some deep hurt. He, like the rest of us, is looking for love, and if he cannot find love, at least he doesn’t want to get hurt.
Seeing him as someone that equally to me is just looking for love (or trying to avoid getting hurt), is helping me to maintain my inner peace.
Seeing the light that we all share in him, is allowing me to feel love and compassion for him. Compassion even in situations where he is triggering me, compassion especially then – radical compassion. This is my commitment to myself in dealing with difficult people.
How do you deal with difficult people?