How we are in relation to people has more to do with us than with them.
Please discuss. How does this play out in life?
I’ll start us out. All of us have at least one person we struggle to get along with. They may seem unreasonable, irrational, unpredictable, selfish, inconsiderate, overly emotional, controlling. We feel we usually do our best to be polite and understanding, but somehow it just doesn’t work out well. There are more conflicts, misunderstandings, and tension between us than we’d want. Relating to them can be a chore.
We tend to see the other person as the problem: they’re difficult, uncompromising, perhaps even willfully obstinate. We avoid or limit interactions with them and are often resentful when that’s not possible. They’re just troublesome.
Our relationship with this person is based on perceptions, primarily ours. We’ve likely developed a fixed opinion of them, and we interpret ongoing interactions with them on the basis of past situations. “Oh (sigh), they’re doing that again!”
Or, they may in some way remind us of another individual we clashed with in the past, and as a result we view our interactions with them as a continuation of that previous conflict, which occurred with someone else entirely.
Worst of all, their behavior may remind us of some of our own undesired or even unacknowledged traits, causing us to want to push the other away so that we don’t see our own flaws mirrored in them.
Today’s message reminds me to own responsibility for the challenges I experience in relationships. The things I can control in any situation are my own thoughts and actions. When I find relating to another difficult, examining my beliefs about them and my emotions toward them may be illuminating. If the situation feels like one from the past, I may be emotionally burping. I may also want to ask myself, “How do I do that?”
When I get emotionally clear, I will be able to see the individual and their behavior more neutrally. This will help me understand how I can change my own thoughts and actions to improve the interactions between us. It all begins with me.
How about you? How do you handle thorny or annoying individuals?