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3 Steps To Deal with REALLY Difficult People

May 10, 2019

Know someone who easily pushes your buttons? You’re absolutely fine until they just target a few words at you and bam, you're ticked off.

And do you find yourself revisiting the conversation and going back to feeling frustrated each time?! 

That ping-pong effect is something our physical, mental and emotional states get used to. And we find ourselves living away from our center, away from ease, peace and feeling angry, frustrated and unhappy.

There are three simple steps to get back to center. They are simple and effective:


Breathing is the one bodily control we have that can affect EVERY system: respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, lymphatic, endocrine. Breathing gives the body a rhythm to live by. Do you want that rhythm to be slow and patient, or short and panicked? Allow yourself to pattern your breath to how you want to be in your life.

Breathing allows us to train ourselves to not react immediately to whatever is happening. There is time. You don’t have to have a snap solution, an absolute answer ready.


Breathing gives the body a rhythm to live by. Do you want that rhythm to be slow and patient, or short and panicked? 

And no circumstances need extra drama swirling around it.

Drop into your breath. Give yourself time and space for this. Before defending yourself, before answering, before trying to resolve, fix, explain: Breathe. This prepares you for the next step.


Breathing gives you time to notice exactly what the current circumstance is - AND what it is NOT. Noticing brings you to the present moment and washes away past experiences, thoughts, emotions: Baggage.

 Many times, when we are faced with people who are difficult, we bring in past anger, resentment, frustration. You may even notice your brain bringing messages like:

“Here we go again.”

“He did this the last time!!”

“She has to control everything.”

 Just notice what messages the brain brings in that build your emotions. These messages help build the current moment into a big, dramatic event.

For our own health, we have to let that go.

Noticing allows us to do that. We notice all the extra silly crap we’re adding to the situation and breathe through bringing us to our final step.


When we begin to respond through breathing, noticing and simplifying, we become much more effective at work, with loved ones and in our communities.



When we breathe, give ourselves time to notice we are able to simplify the situation, rather than build it. We take out all of the emotion and focus on the kernel of what needs our attention. When we begin to respond through breathing, noticing and simplifying, we become much more effective at work, with loved ones and in our communities. And we can respond from a place of love and compassion that connects us to those who are in our lives.


So, this is all easy to write about and read about, correct?! But for it to work, we have to do it! 

  1. Ease this into your life - the first thing I did when I knew I wanted to feel better when I was dealing with difficult people is just to notice how I was breathing and how I felt when I was around them. This was a great education! I noticed I was holding my breath and that my mind was very busy with negative, unhelpful thoughts that led to emotions and drama that only damaged me. And I didn’t want that for myself.  
  2. Start with a simple practice - I took a typical repetitive situation that was really frustrating and began with it. We all have our pet peeves. That’s a great place to start. Start with something that bugs you. Like dirty dishes someone ALWAYS leaves in the sink. Breathe. Notice the thoughts and if the brain is bringing in previous “dirty dishes” experiences are coming in to build anger, resentment. As you breathe and notice, see if you can simplify to this current situation. How would you like to resolve it without added drama, swirling emotions, anger? Breathe through.
  3. No judgment - Finally, when I began this practice of breathing, noticing, simplifying I wasn’t perfect. I failed many times. I dropped into yelling or holding emotions in and suffering. Remind yourself that you’ve had a lifetime of living much differently and it takes time to make this shift! We’re allowed to try and fail! We’re allowed to get up and try it again. And that’s what it takes.

Our lives will never be immune from dealing with people we find difficult. But it is our responsibility to handle our own reactions and responses. One of the most effective ways I’ve found is to have a consistent, ongoing practice that saturates me with the gifts of slowing down. Taiji and qigong have been vital to me. As I practice them, their gifts melt into the rest of my life, building a foundation and centeredness that allows me to be in each moment, rather than ping pong to each one.

Here’s a handy step by step pdf "3 Steps To Deal With Difficult People" to help you notice the work that you’re doing to maintain your center. And, if you're interested in a daily practice that makes being centered part of every moment, check out my Taiji For Balance online course.

It is a gem that weaves meditation, movement, philosophy into a way of living balanced in your center. 


Try this quick video

Tell us where to send the link and then try this gentle movement during a quiet moment you carve out for yourself.