In life, we will always encounter difficult people. It is a given. We cannot avoid them. Since we already know we have no control over other people and we are only able to control our own reaction to others, we must prepare ourselves for when we encounter difficult people.
First, try to figure out what their motive is or why they are being difficult. We had a sermon in church about this very thing. Our pastor told a story of when he was a child and his dog was hit by a car. He ran to the road trying to pick up his dog, but each time he got near him the dog would snap at him. He tried over and over but the dog kept trying to bite him. He said, “Why are you trying to bite me? I’m only trying to help you!” His dad took him aside and explained to him that the dog is in so much pain inside, and that’s all he can see right now. He doesn’t understand the effort to help, because all he can focus on is his overwhelming inner pain.
People do the same thing, often unknowingly. Some people are so unhappy or in pain inside for whatever reason and they reflect it outwardly upon others. They especially take it out on others who are much happier than themselves. It is very much like the saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” They are dealing with an overwhelming inner pain they cannot overcome and their only reaction is to lash out at others. They don’t even realize what they’re doing most of the time or why they are doing it. Until they realize what is making them behave this way, they cannot make the changes necessary.
This is true about everyone, so if you find yourself behaving in this manner, ask yourself what is truly making you unhappy inside and fix it! If you’re close to the person who is acting out, you may feel comfortable enough to call it to their attention and ask them what is making them so unhappy or angry? You may be able to help them talk through and find solutions to their issues so that they no longer behave in a negative way.
Ultimately, you cannot change their behavior or actions. The only thing you CAN control is your reaction. Do not let yourself fall prey to their criticism. Once you accept the fact they are lashing out at you because of their own unhappiness, it is much easier to let go of how it makes you feel. You cannot change others, but don’t let others change you!