Dealing with difficult people on a regular basis can ultimately rob your peace and joy if you allow them to. Here are four steps to help you keep your cool when you can’t avoid the people or situations that put you over the edge.
1. Stop trying to control what is beyond your control.
As tempting as it may be to try to control the people around you, it will only add further stress to your life. You will have to babysit the difficult person on a continual basis or monitor the situation 24/7 and that robs you of precious time, energy and resources you could be using elsewhere. While you can discover more effective ways to deal with difficult people, you cannot effectively change anyone. You can only control you and your response to the difficult person or situation you are dealing with. Anything else will result in frustration.
2. Set boundaries between you and the people who rob your peace.
To the extent that it is possible, rearrange your time and schedule to minimize the friction between you and a co-worker, family member or anyone else that is adding stress to your day. While distancing yourself physically is not always possible, you can establish and communicate boundaries to protect yourself on an emotional, mental and spiritual level. Healthy boundaries allow you space to breathe and time to reflect on and analyze the situation. Sometimes it is simply your mindset about the person, situation or role you play in the relationship that needs to change. Then, you can take responsibility, stop playing the victim and begin to develop yourself.
You may be surprised to discover that God is using this person or situation to build your character. Though you may not see the outward evidence of God’s character-building work in your life, be encouraged that He is molding and shaping you into the image of His Son.
4. Be proactive.
Dealing with difficult people or circumstances can cause you to lose your focus. Instead, draw close to God and seek Him for wisdom and revelation. Trust Him to lead you step by step as He fulfills His perfect plan for you and the people involved. He will give you steps and strategies to maintain your peace and joy and gain the victory, no matter how difficult the people and circumstances in your life appear to be.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)