#82 | 7 Ways to Deal With Difficult People

act anger bathroom brain daughter decide emotion feel giving happening kindness map matter notice situation suggestions thought triggered virtues words Jun 20, 2022

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Here are seven ways to deal with difficult people. This video is inspired by a mom who was taking her daughter out for a birthday celebration with relatives and just found herself triggered by the suggestions, the advising and the veiled criticisms that were coming from the relatives. And her final comment was, "This just sends my anxiety into the outer orbit and sets me on edge. I am so done with being around these people."

I think that qualifies for needing to know some ways to deal with difficult people and we've all had this experience when we are taking our children almost on display with our relatives and our relatives feel like they can judge them or us. Or at least that's what we think is happening and so it creates a lot of thinking in our heads that inspires some emotions and some actions and we're not always pleased with the way that we turn up and how things turn out. Like we just don't want to do this anymore. So I'm giving you seven suggestions of options to do after before, during and after. These types of things are going to happen regularly because it sounds like this is kind of a annual thing where  they want to take her out for lunch, and it makes perfect sense. 

So here's what we can do before we go out to dinner with them or out to lunch. We can say we can use the STEAR map to decide in advance how we're going to think about their words. So the situation becomes their words and we know from the STEAR map that the situation is always neutral, that it's how we think about their words that makes us happy. Thehe words that are created in our brain and somehow our brain miraculously decides based on those words, which hormones should be secreted so that we feel a certain sensation in our body. And that is interesting for us to notice. So okay, let's commit in advance to what we're going to do. They said words, my thought could be… (and this is one I've been using lately. I've been practicing this). That my thought is, "They said words. That's interesting. Now I know with what they're thinking." From there I'm able to go to curiosity. "Hmm, now I know what they're thinking. I'm curious." So then my actions are to say, "Okay, I wonder where that thought has, you know, originated for them. What is going on for them? What makes them feel like they need to make that comment?" I just get curious about it. And then the result is whatever they say. I can learn something. I can figure it out. I can understand better, you know, what's going on in that situation.

So that's one way we can use a STEAR map to decide in advance how we want to think about something so that the emotion we get is curiosity, and that's really one of my favorite emotions. Okay, let me figure this out because our brains love to figure things out.

The second thing I suggest that we do is that we decide in advance that we're going to be kind to ourselves because we know that this could be a triggering situation for us. So let's have some kindness, some compassion, some empathy, try to experience some joy in the fact that we are noticing what's going on with our brains.

We're noticing the thoughts. We're learning. You know, just watch ourselves in advance. Notice how we're handling the situation and maybe it's better than we've ever handled these kinds of situations before. I mean, just sort of look back and say, "All right now, what part of me gets triggered by the comments that they're making? "What is that? Oh, that's happening. In my mind. When did I start thinking like that? Did I start believing that I needed to justify how good of a mother I was or how wonderful a daughter I have? When did that start? That I have to justify that I was good enough. When was the first time I remember thinking that I hadn't measured up to somebody else's expectations and can I give that child that I was back then some compassion and some kindness and some joy?"

Just think back to that time and say, "Wow, look how far I've come since then. And wow, you come that far.

You know, what I would say to her right now is "You are perfectly wonderful. Just the way you are and you don't have to do anything to justify being loved." You know, just kind of go backwards and see in time, where did that come from? Where did that cluster of thoughts originate? How long have I kept them that I need to justify that I'm a good enough mom or that I have a good enough child or whatever. It's just interesting to develop that self compassion and kindness for ourselves.

Now, here's my suggestions for sometimes when we're in the moment and we have been triggered, and we can tell like the brain, the prefrontal cortex, the thinking part of our brain is offline. And really, the midbrain is what's working like the back brain is one that's keeping me breathing. Okay, I'm noticing that I'm probably breathing faster, but that's all kind of automatic based on my thought has triggered my limbic system and it wants me to leave.

And so why don't we do that? Why don't we give ourselves a chance to escape? Just say, "Hey, I gotta go the bathroom right now. Be right back." And you leave. And you just go to the bathroom and you notice what's happening. Oh, my God, look at this. I'm breathing fast. I'm really, really mad. I'm tired of it. I'm sick and tired of it. Look at the thoughts. Look at the spin cycle that I've gotten myself in thats happening in my brain right now. Look at all those thoughts spinning around, I can hardly even grab them. I'm so triggered. I'm so angry. It's like, what did they say? How could they say that, you know, is just triggering. It's just going but I'm doing this in the bathroom so that I'm giving myself a bit of a break. I know that my daughter is going to be safe for the next five minutes with what's going on. And they're going to treat her well and everybody's safe. Okay, that's good to notice too. I'm safe. I'm okay. Right this minute."

Then just notice. Just take a bathroom break. I'm going away.

But you don't say, "That was the worst thing I ever heard from you. And it's all your fault that I'm upset."

You don't say that, okay? Because we know based on the STEAR map that what anybody else does or says belongs in this situation line. And it's up to us to decide how we're going to react. So we just think, "Wait a minute, I'm going to exit stage left here. And I'm going to take a little break and I need to go to the bathroom or whatever." You know, whatever it is I need to go outside and breathe fresh air or whatever. It is that gets you out of that space and gives you a little bit of time. You know gives you room to process what's going on inside, to figure it out. What is this?

And then when you're back where you want to be then you come back now after the situation, (and I just couldn't resist that GIF, that puppy dog, I mean seriously.) After the situation. Here's what I suggest we do. We replay what happened in slow motion, okay. They said that. I thought “oh my gosh, that had me triggered because it really made me feel angry”. Okay, now I found the emotion, now I'm going to feel that anger. Really feel that anger. We're gonna make it worse. I'm gonna make it not so bad. I'm going to make you know with whatever thought it is that was triggering that anger.

I'm really going to let myself experience it. I'm going to feel it in my body. I'm going to say oh my god. Anger looks like a red flame. Like in my chest and it goes up into my neck and it feels tense. And that's what Okay, anger. I've got to and then if we just just feel anger it takes about 90 seconds. If we can just feel that anger. Tolerate the discomfort of that anger. Okay, now slow motion. Alright, now I processed that anger. 

Alright, now, let me think about what was going on. What was some of the thoughts going on in my head? Can I write those down? Can I do STEAR maps on them? Can I decide whether or not those are the thoughts I want to feel? And when I slow it down, I say to mysel, “ Hmm that's good. To know. That's good to know. Would I do that again?”

And you know, I noticed that I skipped number three, because this is really important though and I I just want us to keep this in mind throughout this entire interaction with our difficult people is that it's the virtues that we want to embody that matter most. That's what matters in our whole life.

Because if we're not acting consistent with what matters most to us, that can send us right into a depression dip. It just makes us feel so dissatisfied. It's the stuff for nightmares. It's why we don't sleep at night. It's when we're not acting the way that we really want to act. So I noticed I’m out of order here but number three, the virtues that matter.  I want you to go to VIAcharacter.org.

And I want you to take that survey. It was designed at the university at the University of Pennsylvania. It's really well researched and it if you take that self assessment, you'll discover what are the top five virtues that matter most to you. And that is really good to know.

And so when we think about this whole interaction with these people, we think okay, how am I going to stay truest to myself? How am I going to honor who I am at my core. Knowing those virtues really matters. When I took it my number one virtue was love. So am I acting with love? In this situation? What if I put love in the emotion line of my STEAR map and replayed this situation and thought, Okay, how they said words, what could my thought be? That would generate love? And then how would I show up? How would I act? And then what would the result be?

It's really gonna help us be more intentional and show up more like the person we know that we are, that we really want to be. So that's number three. Sorry about the missing order.

Your sixth option is that afterwards, you can decide if you just want to set a boundary. If you just want to say to them, "Look, my daughter loves being with you. I love being with you. You matter a lot to us because you're really important family members. And if you want to suggest advice or criticize, just know that that's going to cut our outings short. I'm going to leave earlier than you might expect. I'm giving you a heads up now. because I really don't want to expose my daughter to judgment.

I really don't want to expose my daughter to any more than she has to be. I really want you to know that she sees enough judgment in her day because she inherited a brain that doesn't fall into the bell shaped curve of the way we expect everybody to be. And you know, the best research that's coming out is about 2% of the population has this brain. And as a result, these are some of the things that are going to be more difficult. Her skills are going to lag and they're going to cause some unsolved problems. And I just want you to know that she's living in a world that doesn't recognize those differences very often and doesn't often accommodate the differences that she has. And so she doesn't need anybody telling her that it's her fault. Any you know that she doesn't act the way that other people expect you to. I'm going to set a boundary and we're going to leave early.

And then the final one is, I just want you to know that having empathy for the other person and for yourself and for your daughter is really going to help make this situation better.

You realize how often that your daughter hears those suggestions, advice and criticism. And you know, you just want to give her a big hug. And probably the people that are giving you all those suggestions, advice and criticism, have heard a lot of them in their life as well.

So please come visit my blog for a transcript of this video. And look around; see what else you can find at lynncdavison.com. Bye for now.