#83 Stop Trying to Fix Them!

What I'm going to share with you in this

podcast might shock you!

You might not even like what I have to say, but please listen all the way through And I promise you it will change your outlook on the difficult people in your life. So let's talk about what makes someone difficult. We could all pick that one person and create a mile long list of all of the reasons that they are difficult.

According to Rick Warren, there are six types of difficult people. The first type is demanding. These people are the ones who take control and work really hard to make sure that everything goes exactly as they plan. They try to be everyone's boss and take the lead in every discussion. Do you know anybody like that?

The second type is disapproving. These people love to point out your mistakes. They are highly critical and judgmental. They very rarely have anything positive to say. The third type is deafening. They are loud and never run out of things to say. I like to say these people make my ears bleed. These people love to argue and will keep going until you give in and agree with them.

The fourth type is destructive. These people are like volcanoes. They blow up easily and hurt everyone in their path. You find yourself walking on eggshells, uncertain of what will set them off. The fifth type is discontent. These people are touchy. They are always whining and complaining about something.

They have a woe is me complex and are never happy. The sixth type is demeaning. These people are rude, they are mean, and are always looking to put others down. Their main goal is to make you feel insignificant. Now, can you think of people who fit in these categories? Here's what happens. Whether you realize it or not, you have expectations in all of your relationships.

There isn't anything wrong with expectations, except that their behavior and actions Often, don't meet your expectations. In fact, you also may not realize, but for most of your relationships, you have pages and pages of rules that you expect the other person to follow. These rules have been created over time.

And they are based on lots of factors like your childhood, your teenage years, traumas, hurts and pains, your desires, your assumptions about the world, your observations of life, and more. Your expectations can go something like this. They shouldn't complain. They should be kinder. They should never point out when I'm wrong.

They should take out the trash without being asked. They always have to be right. They shouldn't be crude or vulgar. They should have the same views I have on politics. They shouldn't argue with me. And the list of how people should behave could go on and on. When you hear yourself using the word should about someone else, that is a warning that you have expectations for that person, or rules.

When you think they should do something, you are placing your rules on them. When people don't meet your expectations or follow your rules, then you make it mean that their behavior is wrong. You categorize them and their actions. Here's how your brain works. When you label someone based on their actions, then your brain works hard to prove it true.

For example, if you label someone as negative, every interaction you have with them will be focused on all of the negative things that they say and do. You will find lots of evidence to prove that your thought, they are negative, is true. But, you overlook all of the interactions. Where they are not negative because of your tunnel vision.

Look at it this way. Think of that one relationship that you struggle with. Imagine that your relationship with this person is a movie. What would the title be? Could it be The Angry Uncle, The Backstabbing Best Friend, The Ungrateful Boss? When you assign them a specific role, you are also assigning yourself a specific role in the relationship.

The angry uncle, maybe you become the peacekeeper in the family. The backstabbing friend, maybe you become the victim in the relationship. The ungrateful boss. Maybe you become a people pleaser in order to get their approval. When we find ourselves in these situations or similar situations, we often find somebody to confide in.

You know, that friend who always has your back. We tell them our story from our point of view. Our point of view is usually one sided. It includes our thoughts, our opinions, our judgments, and our expectations. And usually, we only confide in people who are going to agree with us. When they agree with us, we think it confirms that we are right and the other person's behavior is wrong.

This type of one sided conversation confirms that our expectations are valid, so the other person is falling short. This is why we label people as difficult. Because they don't measure up to our expectations. What we really desire is to control people. We want them to act in a certain way so that we can feel good or be happy.

We think that they have to change for us to feel differently. Now, what if there was a different way to approach people? What if you could be happy without the other person changing at all? They could still be their normal self. angry, loud, argumentative, controlling, or however it is that they act. Now, I have news for you.

We can't control other people. We can't control their beliefs and behaviors because they are based on their past, their opinions, their pain and struggles, their judgments, and their views on the world. But what if you could rewrite the movie by dropping your expectations and judgments of the person? So let me give you some examples.

Instead of The Angry Uncle, what if you changed the title to simply Uncle Joe. There's no judgment in that title. There are no expectations that he should be kind or friendly. You aren't looking for all of the reasons that he might be angry and have an outburst. He just becomes Uncle Joe. Your role in the relationship is to be present without trying to control or manipulate Uncle Joe.

Or trying to control and manipulate other people's words or actions in order to prevent an outburst. If you change the title to Uncle Joe, how do you think your relationship would change? Do you think you might find more enjoyment at family get togethers? Alright, let's look at the backstabbing friend.

What if you change the title to simply, My Friend? You might have the expectation that people should never gossip or talk about you. And when they do, you think, woe is me. When you become the victim in the story, you give up all of your power and allow others to be in control. As the victim, you blame others for things that happen without taking ownership for your role in the situation.

You don't have to agree with your friend's actions, but you get to decide how to respond. In emotional situations, I always suggest to my clients to pause and reflect before they react. If possible, take a step back and look at the situation with curiosity. Be open to see the expectations that you've placed on the relationship.

The gap between your expectations and the other person's behavior is where you will find yourself as the victim. This gap is where all of your pain and suffering occurs. You may also find yourself in this gap, complaining, gossiping, manipulating, being passive aggressive, and confrontational. This is the area where most conflict occurs.

Now, I'm not saying that you should never have expectations for people. I have several good friends who I share intimate details of my life with. I expect them to be honest and to keep things confidential. There is nothing wrong with this, in fact that is how you create strong relationships. But here's the question to ask.

Do you like your expectations and the relationship? Why are they important to you? How would your relationship change if you drop the expectations? So now, finally, let's look at the ungrateful boss. When you label your boss as ungrateful, then you probably have expectations like, they should praise me for all of my hard work.

They should notice my effort and give me a pat on the back. They should tell others about the great job that I'm doing. They would make me happy by saying good job. You might also have thoughts like, I need to work harder so they will give me a compliment. He or she doesn't have a clue how hard I work. I am not doing a good enough job because they didn't compliment me.

I will be happy when they say good job. I know I am worthy when they compliment me. In all of these expectations and thoughts, you have become the people pleaser who depends on someone else's words or actions to make you feel good. You are seeking the approval of other people. You are allowing them to determine your self worth.

In this relationship, it is possible for you to find the approval you need, but you might be surprised to learn that it doesn't come from someone else. Your approval is more important than that of others. When you are confident in your abilities and effort, then you don't need anyone else to give you a pat on the back.

You can give yourself a pat on the back. Can you relate to any of the scenarios that we've talked about? I'm going to review with you. When you give someone else a title like difficult or destructive, you are judging them based on the expectations that you have for them. Some expectations are healthy and a normal part of a relationship, but others are unrealistic and create tension and hard feelings.

I encourage you to spend time thinking about the expectations that you have for your most important relationships. As you reflect, ask these three questions. Number one, what expectations do you have for this person? Number two, what title would you give to the relationship? And when you give the title to the relationship, what title do you assume?

Number three, what is a new title that you could assign to the relationship that would allow you to drop your judgments and expectations? When you find yourself feeling annoyed, angry, or disappointed in a relationship, look at your thoughts and expectations. Ask the three questions I just shared. You might be surprised to see that many times someone is difficult because of your thoughts and expectations.

Be sure to listen to the entire podcast to gain a new perspective on difficult people! Maybe, they aren't difficult after all!


Jennie is a Catholic speaker, Life Coach, Podcaster, Weekly Radio Show Host on Nashville Catholic Radio, and founder of Catholic Moms in the Middle. After 26 years of working in Catholic education, Jennie felt God calling her "to step out of the boat" to serve in a new way. In her new ministry as a Catholic Life Coach, she now equips and encourages middle-life moms to reconnect with who they are and their unique God-given purpose so they can MAGNIFY Christ in their corner of the world.