Understanding "Difficult" People
  Vijai P. Sharma, PH.D.

 In the book, "Thank You For Being Such A Pain," aiuthor Mark L. Rosen provides an in-depth study of difficult people.  Reading it, I felt it is not all that difficult to understand difficult peope.  I can see where they're coming from.  Since we all encounter difficult people from time to time, let's consider some insights offered by Rosen.

 People who are otherwise the embodiment of responsibility and competence can be difficult to live with because of one fatal flaw:  they are unduly critical and intolenrnt of those who fail to measure up to their standards.
 Many of us go through life wondering what's wrong with other people.  We find others difficult, when, in reality, we may be the ones who are difficult.  At times, when we view others as being difficult, they may be viewing us as difficult.
 We tend to view other people as difficult when they are not like us.  We denigrate in others that which is different from us.

 Difficult people often come from dysfunctional families.  They grew up to be difficult because their families taught them the wrong things or failed to teach them the right things.  Rosen gives an example of a man who was highly intrusive into other peoples' personal lives.  Rosen visited the man's boyhood hoe and noticed that his bedroom didn't even have a door.  He cound't understand other people's need for privacy, because he had grown up without any privacy for himself.

 People are difficult because no one ever taught them the basic social skills and appropriate ways of interacting with others.  As a result, they are clueless.  They have not learnbed things which others take for granted.

 Some people are difficult because they are stuck in the past.  They harbor, often justifiably, a lot of anger against people of the past and they relate to those in the present as if they were someone from their past.  For example, they might be seen as repressenting parents, teachers, or siblings who made contradictory and inconsistent demands and were unfair or even abusive.  Some people are difficult because they6 relate to you as if you were someone else.

 Being stuck in the past, they still react to past painful events as if the events were happening now.  Reliving past events of personal pain and insult, they react to them in the here and now.  Your only part in this reenactment of the past is that you just happen to be there and youdon't know what exactly it is that you happen to represent for them.

 People who grow up in a loving, nurturing, and healthy environment, rarely grow up to be difficult people.  They grow up to be healthy, easy-going, and likeable.  They don't have few unresolved emotional issues about their childhood.  Therefore, when they interact with you, their past wouldn't intrude upon the present.  They are able to see you as you are without much distortion of reality.

 Some difficult people have low self-esteem.  Their sense of self may be so fragile that they had a need to protect it by keeping others at a distance.  They achieve this by being demanding, difficult or even offensive.

 Some difficult people were perhaps not very po0pular among the kids at school and might have been subjected to taunts, ridicules, and cruel putdowns.  They might have reached a point at which they started responding in kind.

 Some people are difficult because they don't like themselves.  If you don't like yourself, it is likely that you would dislike others.
 Is there a difficult person in your life, a co-worker, a relative, or a friend?  Is this person saying unkind things, making snide remarks, or being sarcastic?  Don't take it personally.  Remember, it's not necessarily aobut you, certainly not all of it.  Much of it comes from the perssonal world of the difficult person.  Sift between the part that applies to you and that which doesn't.  Work on your part if that seems reasonable.

 When you find someone difficult, think about whether you're also part of the problem.  Who is stuck in the past?  Is it you, or the person who you see being difficult?  As Rosen poses the question, "Is this person triggering some old feelings by reminding you of a difficult person in your past?

 And remember difficult people are put on this earth so you can be sufficiently challenged to further develop your patience, tact, and people skills.  The more you accept them as a challenge, the more patient and tactful you will become

Filename:  "Children,"  11/15/98 

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