How To Deal With Difficult People —  Without Lowering Your Standards

Three emotional tricks that will help you find peace when dealing with people you don't like.

Last updated on Apr 26, 2024

Woman no longer stressed after forgiving the difficult people in her life and accepting them for who they are Seth Doyle | Unsplash, Peshkova | Canva

Nobody wants to deal with difficult people, but there is a benefit to doing so. Whenever we have to put up with people we find difficult, it offers the possibility of healing old wounds. 

Sometimes, when certain people or relatives show up in our lives who annoy or burden us, there is a sense of heaviness or dread that goes back years to previous pain suffered by those individuals — but we can change this. Let’s bring this into perspective and find some healing.


Three emotional tricks that will help you deal with difficult people

1. Remember when you were in kindergarten

You sat in a little chair behind a tiny desk. Well, guess what? You now possess a beautiful adult body that no longer fits that teeny desk or scenario. In the same way, trying to operate from old outmoded thought patterns that continually bring pain no longer fits.

Holding on to relationships and memories that need to go no longer serves your highest good.

@thequotecollection Forget the past and future, be in the present - Shi Heng Yi | TheQuoteCollection  Video credit: @Mulligan Brothers ♬ original sound  - TheQuoteCollection

Reverting back and allowing the expectations and demands of family members to be a source of unhappiness and stress when you want to be authentically yourself and at peace is unacceptable.


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The conflict may appear to be a choice between being who you are and not having peace with your relatives or even having peace at the price of being inauthentic. Yet being peaceful and authentic can define your relationship with your family. First, though, you may have to evaluate your relationship with yourself.

To change the nature of any relationship, you'll have to adjust your thinking about it and consider you are the source of your anguish, rather than the individual you've labeled as the troublemaker, or annoying and deplorable.

2. Remember, people treat you the way you have trained them to treat you

Over the years, all of these folks have been treating you exactly as you have trained them with your reactions and behaviors. This can miraculously change when you choose to be at peace with everyone in your life, particularly your relatives.


If your internal relationship dialogue is focused on what they're doing wrong, that's precisely how your relationship with them will be experienced.

If your mind chatter centers on what's annoying about them that will be your focus. But if you're thinking, I am authentic and peaceful with this relative, then that's what you will experience — even if that person continues to be exactly how they have always been. In other words, make your decision and stand by it.

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3. Center the fact that the key to having peace is forgiveness

Your relatives or challenging friends are simply doing what they have been taught to do over a lifetime and the lifetimes of their predecessors. Step away from judgment and expectation and shower them with understanding and forgiveness.

Rather than keeping yourself in a state of stress, decide to be grateful for their presence in your life and the opportunity for you to grow.

Family hug after a difficult talk Rawpixelcom via Shutterstock


You will likely see dramatic changes in your relatives as you instruct them with your own persona on how you intend to be treated. But if they don't choose to change and continue their non-peaceful ways, release your need to transform them. It is perfect in the Universe, as you are here offering them the same. As you transform and live in peace, you increase the odds of helping others do the same. It is all a matter of choice.

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Jean Walters is a best-selling author and St. Louis-based transformational coach who specializes in helping clients develop communication skills and empathy.