I’ve missed you. Been traveling around between the desert and LA for the last two weeks. It’s been magical. I love watching the hummingbirds buzz near flowers, the roadrunners sprint, bunny families hiding behind cactus, and mountains and sunsets that look like Monet’s.
The weather was crazy: 90 degrees one moment and then the next 50 degrees and storming. It reminds me of the way thoughts come and go in the mind. Sometimes it’s pleasant and sometimes it’s not. It also reminds me of people: sometimes pleasant and sometimes very difficult.
In the last year, many of you have asked me how to deal with difficult people in your lives. Many times, these people are in our families or workplace. There are different levels of difficult. In this letter, I am going to cover the moderate level, not the intensely abusive one. (Note: if you are in a relationship with a very abusive and extremely difficult person, please get psychological assistance).
Last year, I had to deal with two very difficult people in various areas of my life. Here’s how I handled it:
1. Intention: Set your intention. Remind yourself that you want to be a kind and non-harming person in this life. Just because the person in front of you is being a jerk, doesn’t mean you need to be one.
2. Breathe: take 3 long slow deep breaths before you have a conversation or send an email to whomever you need to talk. Feel your body and be present.
3. Heartful-ness: Take time to speak and keep feeling your breath. Your heart, mind, and body will know how to respond with integrity. If you are starting to lose your center, you may need a “time out”.
4. Be gentle with yourself: It doesn’t mean you won’t mess up and be unskillful. The focus is to try to stay present and non-reactive so you can respond with compassion and integrity.
5. Set boundaries: If you are not being treated well, say something by setting a boundary. Being kind and compassionate does not mean being a doormat. Compassion can also be about setting limits; creating discipline to take care of yourself is important like a parent sets limits with a child. You can express the effects of the damaging behavior and the consequences. I met a criminal defense lawyer who sets boundaries all the time with criminal offenders to have them understand the consequences of their actions and behaviors; she is also a meditator; she speaks sternly as she remembers her heart’s intention to be compassionate so she doesn’t harden.
6. No expectations: Difficult people don’t always change; try not to expect them to; many times they do not and cannot change. The only person you can control is yourself. If you can remember to be present and compassionate, you will feel good about your response even if theirs sucks.
If you are having residual experiences like grief, hurt, anger, etc then that is what you will need to work through on your own (in yoga, meditation, and therapy) and probably not with this difficult person. It isn’t fair that you would have to deal with these feelings that someone else caused. I understand that. Remember though that the fact that you are more flexible, feeling, and have the ability to work through this difficulty is a blessing. The difficult person in front of you has limitations. Many people don’t have the capacity to do the kind of emotional work it takes to heal and the difficult person in front of you may really not be able to do this work; they are too wounded or ignorant. In addition, our culture puts so much emphasis on pleasant feelings that when an experience isn’t pleasant, we tend to think something is really wrong and want to change it immediately. We may avoid the uncomfortable experience. It’s just like the weather in the desert. Sometime s it’s stormy and sometimes it’s not. Rain isn’t bad; it’s clearing.
Last year, as I mentioned earlier, I had to deal with a couple of very difficult people. One of them came to me one day with a list of criticisms. I set my intentions before talking to this person on the phone. I took breaths as I listened to this person tell me about what they don’t like about me. When the person was ready for me to respond, I took a few breaths and let my heart respond. I remembered my intention. I was very surprised what came out of me: I started to cry and said, “This is really hurting me”. The person on the other end softened a moment and responded with, “I don’t like that”. The outcome is unpredictable. It doesn’t matter because I know I responded with authenticity, heart, and integrity.
I did not attack.
Years ago, I would have responded with more reactivity, defensiveness, and fought back.
I know it’s because of my meditation and yoga practice that I do not need to be as reactive anymore, or at least I attempt not to be that way.
That is the point of our practice: not to avoid the storms but to use the umbrella when necessary. (It doesn’t mean you are not going to get wet!)
Are you done with being reactive?
Are you ready to live from a place of integrity, personal power, and compassion?
Take action now
Cultivate more compassion
Improve self worth
Enjoy the outdoors
Make new like minded friends who want to live in a non-violent and compassionate world
Workout your heart, mind and, body with yoga, pilates, dance, meditation, and qi gong exercises
Soak in a hot tub
Eat organic and healthy food
Detox from the city and technology
No more waiting. It’s time now to contribute to a better world with less violence.
Register now for the weekend retreat at Glen Ivy October 18-21st. Click here for more info. Remember the early birds special ends July 25th. Space is limited. currently, there are 8 spots left.
“May we all be safe from our minds” ~Ruth Denison
I hope this letter helps you live with more compassion, passion, and peace.
Ps: Thank you for passing this info on to all who may benefit. It is your generosity and sharing that makes this work available to others. Without that generosity, this work would not exist.
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The first part of this meditation is an invitation to bring more compassion to your heart. Often, we get angry at ourselves for choices we have made. This can project out to others and create unconscious harm to both you and the other person. I will provide the second and third part of this meditation over the next few weeks. Experiment with this.
Make sure you have a comfortable seat.
Use a timer for at least 10 minutes.
Say to yourself slowly and gently.
May I forgive myself for being imperfect
May I forgive myself for making mistakes
May I forgive myself for being a learner in this life
If one of these phrases resonates more than the others. Stay with it. Say each phrase a few times to yourself and let each one resonate in your heart. Anger, grief, discomfort may arise. It’s ok. Be gentle with yourself.