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How to Deal with Difficult People

I’m feeling the call today to write about how we can peacefully and mindfully deal with difficult people. We are all experiencing the challenges of life today. If you are looking to break free from suffering and fear, here are my strategies for living amidst the stress and difficulties of the world without letting them rob you of joy, love, fun, and sanity!

1. Become aware of everything that agitates your mind. This is a first step and a big one. I have learned, over 30+ years of study and practice, that our number one priority must be to become aware of how often our mind gets agitated in order to begin to release these thoughts. We will always suffer and be unhappy if we allow the mind to get agitated whenever if feels like it.

My morning meditation practice is key for this. We sit in silence, without engaging thoughts, developing our capacity to notice; we are becoming aware. This is a must if we want to be the boss of our own lives. So we go out into our day and begin the process of noticing when we get agitated, understanding this agitation is taking away our peace of mind, we stop, breathe, and and bring ourselves back to a calm state of mind; the present moment. I suggest keeping a notebook for a week and writing down in it every time you feel irritated. I promise that this will be eye-opening.

2. Decide not to engage in gossip. This is a hard one. We all have judgments about other people and situations. Sometimes they may be valid, and you may need advice, but most of the time we are writing a story about someone or something that may not be entirely true. We all do it, but if we want to find peace, we must make the commitment that if it is not true, kind, or necessary, we will not say it.

3. Become a master at changing the subject. Continuing with the subject of gossip, here is a useful trick you can use to escape from conversations that start to head down a negative path. Say you are at lunch with friends who start gossiping about another person, when you speak you can ask one of them about their recent trip, or a family members birthday, or a sentence or two that brings the conversation back to the moment. You have changed the conversation and gently moved away from gossiping and into a genuinely interesting conversation. This is a skill that takes practice but definitely gets easier over time. When you practice strategies 1 & 2, you will begin to notice when your mind gets “ruffled” and know intuitively your next action.

4. Be grounded in your Truth, while allowing others theirs. This is another hard one. So important to meditate every day for five minutes to get connected to you before going out into your day. I am a very passionate person and have strong beliefs. Because this is who I am, I don’t want others to try to change my core values. I am firmly established in my Truth, so I allow others the freedom to be who they are, even when they have views with which I strongly disagree. If a conversation gets “testy,” I go back to strategy 3 to bring the conversation back to neutral territory.

5. Have a plan and limit time with family and friends who are difficult. We all have family and friends whom we love but push every button within us. If we are in a dangerous, abusive situation, please get out. Take the steps necessary to make a change. Otherwise, have a plan, and use your mindfulness practice to support you. For example, you can break up the time spent with difficult people by taking a walk and silently repeating a positive affirmation or mantra. Set the intention that you are there to offer love and have no expectation of the results. It is important to enter these types of situations with zero expectations, just be the love and light. If things begin to get tough, go to the bathroom, breathe, come out, and begin again. This is not easy, but with practice it can be your way.

Our external world today needs all of the love and positivity we have to give. You can be a strong, calm force by finding your practice and practicing it in some way everyday.

You are the peace and love you wish to see- you are the change.

Much love always,

About Barb Schmidt

Barb Schmidt Barb Schmidt is an international best-selling author, businesswoman, philanthropist, and spiritual teacher with over thirty years devoted to spiritual development and research. In 2001, Barb partnered with Florida Atlantic University’s Peace Studies Program to promote dialogue in the greater community on the topic of inner peace. Additionally, she taught a class on meditation and spiritual practices as part of the life-long learning program at Nova University for five years. For the past ten years, she has been offering workshops and classes on spiritual practices throughout the world. A sought-after speaker, Barb regularly lectures at schools and organizations to spread her message of living a meaningful, happy life.
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