Volume 14, February 2010
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Editor: Mohamed Ziauddin
Demanding that someone change, and telling ourselves that if he does not change, it’s awful, I can't stand it, he should be damned, causes us to be emotionally upset. INSTEAD WE SHOULD CHANGE IT TO DESIRING, WANTING AND PREFERRING THAT SOMEONE CHANGES, SUCH A SOFTER EXPECTATION LEADS TO MORE CALMNESS.
Difficult people tend to be an obstacle to our goals, threaten our self-esteem and self-acceptance, act in arrogant and annoying ways and use undesirable methods to control situations and us. The following are the steps to deal with difficult people: Manage your emotional reaction to them first. It is more comfortable to relate to others without feeling a lot of anxiety, anger, intense frustration, or having our self-esteem and self-acceptance threatened. Further we can think more clearly and behave more effectively when dealing with difficult people if we are not severely emotionally upset with them.
DON’T FORGET, IF DIFFICULT PEOPLE UPSET US, WE HAVE GIVEN THEM PERMISSION TO DO SO.
Let’s look at irrational beliefs which cause us to become unduly upset with a difficult person or a difficult acting person.
“Others absolutely must give me what I want and behave as I want, and if they don’t, it’s awful and I-can’t-stand-it’.
To detect your beliefs which cause low frustration tolerance, ask yourself:
1) What exactly am I saying to myself about this person?
2)What am I yelling myself about his or her actions?
3)What am I insisting or demanding that this person do or stop doing?”
WHEN YOU FEEL EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED OR UPSET WITH OTHERS, USE COPING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS TO HELP INCREASE YOUR ABILITY TO TOLERATE THE FRUSTRATION.
The following are examples of coping statements:
1)“I dislike this person’s behavior but I can stand it”.
2) “Sometimes relationships are frustrating, but I can stand the frustration”.
3) “Life is tough, but I can take it”.
4) “I don’t like it, that's OK, I can stand it anyway”.
1) I MUST….
2) YOU (HE OR SHE) MUST…..
3) THE WORLD AND THE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH I LIVE MUST….
CONNECTING OUR MAJOR MUSTS TO OUR EMOTIONS:
I can’t stand any discomfort, anxiety, anger, or depression. I can’t survive or be happy at all if I have to endure these feelings. I absolutely refuse to accept feeling uncomfortable. This irrational self-talk causes LFT- Low Frustration Tolerance.
Wishing punishment and ruin on yourself for others, results in anger directed towards yourself or others.
I am no good at all. Low self acceptance, low self esteem and depression can result from this irrational self-talk and thinking.
5)ALWAYS AND NEVER:
It will always be this way and it will never change.
4) "I had prefer that others and the world be fair and reasonable but life often is not fair. When possible, I will press others to behave fairly".
7)Dealing with responsibilities, hassles and chores is a part of life. Attending to problems in their early stages is inconvenient but hardly awful. I-can-stand dealing with problems as they occur.
10) I am concerned and saddened when bad things happen to others, and I will work towards helping them, if I am able. However the misfortune and unhappiness of others cannot directly cause me to feel extreme anxiety, depression or unhappiness.
WHEN RELATING TO A DIFFICULT PERSON, TURN YOUR DEMAND FOR BEHAVIOR CHANGES INTO A PREFERENCE, THAT HE OR SHE CHANGE HIS OR HER BEHAVIOR, BUT THAT IT’S NOT ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR HAPPINESS OR SURVIVAL.
If you express intense anger or rage, you may defeat yourself as well as the difficult person troubling you. Also, expressing anger at most people merely convinces, them of the correctness of their foolish, obnoxious behavior (Ellis, 1991 audio).
2)To cope with difficult people, first manage your emotional reaction to them.
3)Focus on changing your feelings of anger to less intense feelings of annoyance, displeasure or disappointment.
4)Express your annoyance and displeasure but not intense anger. You don’t have to become angry first before expressing your annoyance.
5)BE ASSERTIVE, RATHER THAN PASSIVE OR AGGRESSIVE, IN STATING WHAT YOU WANT.
6)Negotiate with your difficult person and be willing to compromise.
7)Walk out of the room and separate until both of you have calmed down. As you leave, say something like, “We need a break from this discussion”.
8)ACCEPT YOUR DIFFICULT PERSON, BUT NOT HIS BEHAVIOR. People are fallible and your difficult person is no exception.
9)Forgive the person for his foolish and unreasonable behavior.
10)Try to see the other person’s point of view. Ask enough questions until you can accurately repeat and summarize his or her viewpoint. Be able to paraphrase his or her position so that he or she agrees that you have accurately stated it. Accurately stating another persons position does not mean that you accept it. Merely that you understand it.
FEELING THEY ARE UNDERSTOOD, OTHERS WILL OFTEN BECOME A LITTLE MORE REASONABLE.
11)If needed, leave the situation and become involved in a pleasant activity.
12)ACCEPT WHAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE.