Dealing with Difficult People

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Five Tips for Letting Go of Mental Stress

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James

You may not realize it, but dealing with mental stress from day to day can often be harder on you than dealing with physical stress. If you have trouble letting go of the type of worry and “what-if” thinking that causes mental stress, you are not alone.

You may think the situation is hopeless, and that you are destined to put up with this stressful thinking, but that’s not necessarily true. There is always hope, and you CAN train yourself to let go of this kind of stress.

The first step in letting of mental stress is figuring out what causes it. Is it a person? Or a situation? Or something else that keeps you up at night with worry.

People-Induced Mental Stress

Other people can cause a lot of mental stress for you, but only if you let them. We all have friends and family members who thrive on drama and dragging you into their latest misadventures. This creates mental stress for you because you love them and care about them. Even when you don’t allow yourself to be a party to the situations, you still can’t help but think about them and how they’re doing.

The easiest way to deal with this is to simply distance yourself from negative people. If you can make the choice to stay away from people who thrive on making you a part of their own drama, you will find that the stress you feel around them will also diminish.

When it’s not possible to stay completely away — as in the case of family members — try and limit the time you spend with them. Make it clear to them you are not going allow their stress to become yours. You may find that your unwillingness to be drawn in will have them choosing to spend less time with you in favor of someone else who does feed into their drama and negativity. You’ll still worry about them; they are family, after all, but it will be your choice and on your terms.

Situation-Induced Mental Stress

Besides negative people, there are a lot of situations that can cause you mental stress. Work, financial stress, relationship issues, and family illness are just a few examples of things you may be dealing with on a daily basis.

Feeling stressed out over these situations is not uncommon. The problem arises when you stay stressed for a prolonged period of time, because whether mental or physical, stress will take an eventual toll on your health.

Coming up with alternative ways to think about these situations is a good first step to letting go of the stress that surrounds them. Once you know where the stress is coming from, you can take steps to reduce it, or eliminate it all together.

The thing to remember about mental stress is this: it’s not the person or the situation itself that causes you stress — it’s how and what you think about it. When you change how you think about it, you will also change the amount of stress that surrounds it.

It may take some tough choices on your part, but you can do this. And when you do the result will be a much happier, healthier you.

Tips for Letting Go of Mental Stress

Here are a few tips you can use to help you let go of mental stress, no matter what the cause.

1. Focus on what really matters. Decide where this situation fits in the big scheme of things. Is it really something that you need to feel stress over? Is it something you have control over to change the outcome? If so, then take action. If not, make the choice to let it go.

2. Talk to the people involved. If your stress is the result of relationships with others, look for a way to talk with them and figure out a solution. It may be that you have to let the relationship go in order for you to move forward into a stress-free life.

3. Learn to let go. Easy to say, and not so easy to do but necessary if you can’t come to a solution. Sometimes letting go and moving on is the only way to alleviate the stress caused by a negative relationship.

4. Get help if you need to. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you’re just too close to the situation to deal with it on your own. When this happens, find someone objective to talk to such as a close friend, other family member, or a qualified counselor or coach.

5. Make time for yourself. Stress is draining, no matter how well you think you deal with it. Take time out for yourself to relax, recharge your batteries, and focus on your own needs.

Finally, make a conscious choice to let go of mental stress. Putting these tips into action will help you to change the way you think about stressful situations and will put you on the road to a happier, healthier you.

“It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.” ~ Pema Chodron

Strategies to Cope with Manipulative People

manipulative people, dealing with difficult people Manipulative behavior can sometimes be tough to detect when dealing with difficult people. Oftentimes it happens under your nose, realizing it took place after the fact.  Anxiety can rise, leaving a stressful situation in relationships.  Some manipulations are a little less subtle and become more noticeable when you increase awareness of another person’s communication pattern.

I was working with a client once, we’ll call her Chloe. Chloe was experiencing a great deal of stress with a relationship with a close friend.  “I just don’t know what happens. Before I know it I am doing something that I don’t want to do. I just say yes to her without thinking it through.” Chloe was in a coping skills group, learning to say no to manipulative people in her life. Through her continued work, Chloe began to define what she liked and wanted in her life. She began to become aware of how pervasive this behavior pattern was throughout work and home, and how closely it was tied to her anxiety.

Do you know of folks in your life that fit this description? If so, here are more strategies in dealing with manipulative people:

The Guilt Button. Using guilt is one of the most common forms of manipulation. Playing a martyr role or using self-pity can push your guilt button. An example is when you are setting boundaries and saying no to a co-worker or family member doesn’t honor your request.  The manipulation begins when the other person pushes you to say yeas instead. Self awareness can prevents you from being placed in an unwanted situation. Be prepared to stand your ground.

Control is the Goal. People who use manipulation can be aware of weaknesses or soft spots. Manipulators have developed this skill as a way to coping with their own problems or frustrations. They may resort to tactics that trigger you respond in a vulnerable way.  For example, if the manipulator brings up a situation in which you may have hurt them. This action can certainly knock you off guard. It won’t serve you to constantly beat up on yourself. Forgiveness of self and others is the key.

Who Can Change the Relationship?  The manipulator has to be willing to change how they approach relationships.  Just like any other behavior, admitting there is a problem and being willing to change is the beginning of a better relationship in this case. What if someone doesn’t have insight or wants to change at all?  You then have choices to make, depending on the circumstances of your relationship.

First, understand the relationship dynamics.  Be clear about what happens to you when you are in a manipulative encounter. Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you want to keep peace and agree? Be aware of your behavior, because that’s the part you can change. Trying to change someone else is futile.

Limit your exposure to the manipulative person. Honestly, there can be so much anxiety just anticipating being around someone you feel uncomfortable with.

Lastly, you may choose to confront this person but be aware of possible backlash. Be prepared for possibility of blaming, denial and rationalization responses. Make sure you have adequate support in preparing for confrontation from health professionals, especially if it is a deep rooted issue.

Be aware of your own patterns and how you respond to manipulators. You hold the choices to change the situation at hand.

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