Posts Tagged ‘Difficult people’

Dealing with Hostile People

March 17, 2011

Its so hard to have compassion when someone is hostile.  No matter how ill they are or how disordered are their circumstances, if they are hateful in their comments or body language, its difficult to maintain a kindly or even just objective manner.

One thing that helps is to remember the hostility is sort of a presenting symptom of what is going on underneath.  Its like a fever–meaningless alone, but it indicates something else is happening.  Under anger is usually pain, sadness,  fear or helplessness.  Remembering that, its easier to be helpful.  Lord, help me see the hurt under the difficult behavior, and help me soothe that hurt.


Loving Difficult People, a prayer

August 11, 2009

Lord, please grow my faith to believe You are actively and continually working in the life of every person I’m praying for.  Help me act accordingly.  Help me think positive and hopeful thoughts about them.  Help me listen for those inner promptings or openings You give me to share a word of encouragement with them.  Give me insights into how to meet their needs.  Help me be an angel to them–a messenger of Your love for them.  People grow when someone believes in them.  Help me believe in others because I believe You.  You are active and continually working in the lives of those I pray for.

A New Way of Looking at Prayer

August 9, 2009

Whenever I pray, I really do believe my prayer will be answered, but what does that mean in everyday life?  Does my thinking and do my reactions change?  I know a lot has been written about believing prayer in the area of finances.  When I pray about financial difficulties, I am to stop thinking thoughts of scarcity, poverty, penny pinching, and the like.  I am to be reasonable, asking God for help in how to use my money, making wise and prayerful decisions, but not any longer thinking anxious thoughts of not being able to make ends meet.

What I had never before thought about, until challenged by someone on it, is how do I think about the difficult people I’ve been praying about?  If someone has been very unreasonabe, unkind or downright mean, and I’ve been praying that God will meet whatever need in their lives is causing the behavior, how do I then think about them and react to them?  Do I cringe whenever I have to work a project with this person?  Do I expect them to be unreasonable?  Do I get defensive because I expect further meanness, having seen it so often before?  If I really believe God is working in that person’s life, then isn’t every day to be a new day in my relationship with them?  Isn’t every encounter to be without prejudice, as though there were no negative history?  If I can’t clear out my own negative thinking in this way, I may be contributing to the situation.  Surely the person can tell by my subtle body language and tone of voice that something is amiss.  If I really believe God is working, I must believe the best and expect the best of the person.   Ironically, my good expections may help make positive changes easier for them.

Similarly, in a relationship with an unbeliever, previous hostility may make me quiet about my faith, making it even less likely the person may come to know the Jesus I love.  When I pray that God will give a person the gift of faith, that He will remove their doubts and make it easier for them to believe, do I really believe He is answering that prayer?  If I really believe, I can have no preconception about how they will respond to me.  I must share my thoughts and beliefs as openly and honestly as I would with anyone friendlier to me.  This is honest and transparent, an honoring way to relate to anyone.  If they are hostile, I can be honest about my hurt, but make sure tomorrow is a new day and I will continue to be authentic about who I am.  I’m not talking about “preaching” to anyone, but about just being who I am.

Difficult People

November 16, 2008

I was a difficult person, so I have some  idea what makes them tick.  I grew up with a deep sense of shame.  I’m not sure where it came from, but it was very real.  Guilt is a feeling of wrongness about something we did.  We can apologize and make amends.  Shame, on the other hand, is a feeling of wrongness about who we are.  In the creation story, when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they became aware they were naked and they were ashamed.  It doesn’t say they felt guilt over offending God by their actions. They were ashamed of their bodies and their very selves.  Shame comes from Satan, and whispers to us that we are dirty and bad.  It has to be dealt with on a spiritual level, and the healing of shame is a gift from God when He enters a life.  All human methods of coping with shame have their drawbacks, as shown in human relationships. 

Shame can make us difficult persons in several ways:  It can make us controlling, self-promoting, defensive, cruel and unloving.  How can shame make us unloving?  If we feel unworthy of love, we close our hearts and withdraw from involvement in real relationships.  It can make us cruel in that we want to eliminate those people who make us feel uncomfortable.  If we feel shame and they exude confidence, we want them to feel as miserable as we are.  We hurt them or act in vindictive ways toward them.  Shame may make us defensive and we may jump down the throat of someone who is innocent because something they said brought out the feelings of shame in us.  We may become very controlling, because we feel more powerful if we are in charge of everything and it keeps the feelings of shame at bay.  We may use our power to manipulate others to serve us, and then take credit for their work. The boss in the movie 9 to 5 was an example of this.  Lastly, we may become very self-promoting trying to “be somebody”.  We’re certain that power, celebrity status, rank, privilege and the trappings of wealth will ensure the feelings of shame will leave forever.  It doesn’t work.  One need only look at celebrity suicides to see that.


One thing is needed:  God’s own healing.  When we recognize our lack, our inability to be truly great or truly good, we see we’ve come to the end of ourselves.  When we realize we need God as much as we need air, we call out to Him.  The words we use don’t matter.  He understands the cries of our soul.  As Jesus said “Behold, I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears me calling him and opens the door to me, I will come in and have fellowship with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 3:20)  When the Lord of the Universe enters our souls, we never need to feel shame again.  Its no longer about us, its all about Him.  When we become His friends and workmakes, there’s no shame in that.