The Gift in a Difficult Relationship

It can be difficult to deal with difficult people. I get it.  There are people in our lives we label as snobs, jerks, know it all, lazy; whatever label you want to give a person, there’s someone out there that fits it and if you are bothered by them, your instinct may be to avoid them at all cost. But even when we are successful in physically avoiding them, there are some people who irritate us so much, that we struggle to get them out of our mind.


When I was going through my coaches training program, I was struggling with a difficult relationship in my life. I had all sorts of judgements about this person. I thought she was mean, rude and incredibly self-centered. I brought her up to our master coach as I was a bit embarrassed at how much my thoughts filled thinking about this person.


Her response stayed with me and has since changed how I view difficult relationships. She said think of her as a gift because what upsets me about her can open doors to understanding what holds me back in my own life.


What I discovered later is that the people who trigger us to feel negative emotion, act as a magical mirror into our own life and can provide clues into what are the unhealed parts of our being.


In my example, there was some hurt I was holding onto from my childhood that had to do with mean or rude behavior.


This way of looking at difficult relationships supports the first habit in one of my favorite books, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In every action, look at being proactive instead of reactive. My negative feelings were no longer about something wrong with the other person. It turned into looking at where I can take responsibility and shift my behavior.


The interesting thing to note is that after I viewed this relationship in this way, I no longer saw this person as mean or rude and this shift in me opened us up to a new friendship.


Allyson Jannotta