Sunday, July 7, 2013

Six Things To Do When Dealing With Difficult People & MYHSM Linky Party

Making your home sing Mondays

Welcome to the Making Your Home Sing Monday linky party! Every day you are doing something to make your house into a home for yourself and your family (if you have one). 

My point with each Monday post is, what are YOU doing or going to do today to make your home sing?  It can be an attitude or an action. So have fun, do some blog hopping, link up and don't forget to give a link back to this post!  Thanks!

Topics can include marriage, parenting, encouraging women, organization, cleaning, saving money, our behavior and attitudes, homemaking, homeschooling, recipes....the opportunities are endless.

Note:  We had 103 linkups last week which is awesome!  Don't forget to visit one another and try to leave a comment on at least one blog to encourage someone today!  :)

Ever so often we're going to have people in our lives who are very difficult to deal with.  Sometimes those people are people you work with, your neighbors, maybe even people within your own family.  It might even be your child's teacher, a relative or someone from your church.

You can't always just walk away when it's someone you have to work with or live with or see on a daily or weekly basis.  Many times these situations force us to our knees in prayer.

But there's a difference between praying for someone and praying ABOUT them.  Praying about them is me telling the Lord what a difficult time and the struggles I'm having with this person, and praying for grace and strength and peace in my feelings about them and my dealings with them.

Praying FOR them is me actually praying for them.  It can be hard to earnestly pray for someone when you're struggling with anger or hurt feelings towards them.

Image courtesy of adamr at

Sometimes we have to learn to pray out of obedience before we can learn to pray out of love.

When we pray out of obedience, we are praying for them because we know we should.  We are NOT praying that God will make them suffer and bring horrible things upon them.

We are praying FOR them, remember?  Not against them.

Sometimes, we have to pray for God to love them through us because we're just not feeling it.  We're hurt, we're angry, we're bitter.  And so praying for the source of our bitterness is difficult.

So we pray out of obedience.  We want to ask God to change our hearts and enable us to love this source of difficulty in our lives.  But we don't WANT to love them.  We don't even want to pray to love them.

During those times when we're struggling with praying for them and struggling with our feelings toward them, we have to pray to be willing to be willing!

When someone hurt your feelings, pray for them.

When someone is a source of annoyance to you, pray for them.

When someone angers you, pray for them.

When someone is mean to you, pray for them.

When we pray we are bringing God's power to bear on a situation.  This is no small thing.

It is hard to hate someone you're praying for.  It's hard to be angry against someone you're praying for.  It's hard to be bitter against someone you're praying for.

You've probably heard the phrase "hurting people hurt people."  That doesn't excuse their behavior, of course.  It just means that they need our prayers.  It just means it's not necessarily "personal."  It just means that they are hurting too and their eyes are turned inward, not outward.

I am not a professional, of course, but here are just some of MY ideas of what to do when dealing with a difficult person (a.k.a. DP) in your life:

Image courtesy of adamr at

1.  Set up boundaries.  Praying for and extending love toward the Difficult Person in your life does not mean that you have to give in to everything they want, and doesn't mean that you have to allow them access to you 24/7.  You don't have to share everything with them.  It's o.k. to protect yourself as need be and have certain boundaries that must not be crossed unless YOU allow it.

2. If you cannot set up boundaries, have someone you trust set them for you.  For example, if you have a family member, such as a parent, who is always rude, hurtful and judgmental toward you, you might talk with your husband about it.

The two of you might come to the conclusion that it's not good for you to be subjected to that kind of treatment, and it's not good for your children to see you treated that way.  So you and your husband might decide that you will not meet with your parent (or Difficult Person) alone nor speak with them unless your husband is present.  This is an extreme case, of course, but sometimes it is necessary.  At least for awhile.

Let your husband or a close friend be your wall of protection and protect you and set boundaries FOR you when you can't set them yourself.

3. Don't infer evil where none is intended.  Sometimes it might not always be them.  Sometimes it might be you.  Sometimes it might be me.

Sometimes, someone will say something and we will take offense to it when none is intended.  Don't automatically decide that YOU know what someone was really thinking when they did something, and don't decide that you know what they REALLY meant when they said something.  Be willing to take that at your word.

Be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt before automatically deciding they meant to be rude or hurt you.  Before you get mad, be open to communicating and ask them "Were you talking about ME when you said that people can be rude and thoughtless?"  For all you know, they were thinking about the person ahead of them in the store earlier that evening.

4.  Be willing to ask "Have I offended you?" and say "I am sorry" for YOUR part in any conflict.  Be willing to listen and be sincere about wanting to know.  Be honest with yourself and be willing to admit times when maybe YOU overreacted or were overly sensitive.  Own up to your part in any argument that may have occurred.

Accept that you might not get an apology back.  Don't expect it and that way you won't be disappointed.

Sometimes an "I'm sorry" is not going to change anything in regards to how your Difficult Person is going to behave toward you.  That's sad and frustrating.  But remember, you're not trying to change them, only God can do that.  You're just trying to figure out how to live with them at work or at a family get together or whatever.

We aren't responsible for someone else's actions but we ARE responsible for our own.  But many times, an apology will go a long way to smoothing things over.

5.  Pick your battles.  Some people have a difficult time EVER admitting that they're wrong.  Don't be one of them.  You know that the last time you saw your Difficult Person was on Aunt Jan's birthday, but your DP insists that it was at Aunt Sarah's birthday.  You KNOW you are right, but your DP will NOT admit that they are wrong and will not back down.

Sometimes, in the interest of peace, it might just be better to let it go.  Who cares whose birthday it was?  Does it really matter?  Can you let it go?  Sure, they will think that THEY are right and you are wrong, but it isn't your job to educate them, is it?  You just have to find a way to get along with them for the moment.

Yes, you may have to bite your tongue sometimes in order to get along with your DP.  Sometimes you will just have to take the higher road and trust God to give you the grace to zip your lip!

6.  Don't be afraid to put some distance between you in a relationship and seek help when necessary.  Sometimes there are people who are "toxic" to you, or they will cling to you as if you were a lifeline and you feel as if YOU are drowning.

Don't let them pull you under.  It's o.k. to admit that you can't help everyone and that you need to step away and take a breath and let someone else step in.

I am talking about when you have someone who is emotionally, spiritually and physically draining you with their needs, problems and demands.

You don't have to be the one who does everything for them.  For example if your DP is a family member, let your siblings or other family members help. Get together and make a plan.

If your DP is really struggling, sometimes the best thing you can do is put a loving, supportive but firm distance between you for awhile and lovingly encourage them to seek professional help.

Don't ever tell yourself that prayer is a waste of time.  Prayer changes things, prayer changes hearts, prayer changes people.  Prayer changes YOU.  Prayer changes me.  Don't ever give up on it.  Don't ever give up on Him.

What are you doing or going to do today to make your home sing? Please go here for instructions and/or ideas and come back here to link up to join us today! Please do not put your own "Making Your Home Sing Monday" Linky on your blog. As always, please don't forget to link to this post so that others can join the fun! 

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  1. Lots of sound advice in this post, Nan. I have to chuckle about your statement--praying for vs. praying about--I guess it's not funny, but it makes me think of our human desire to gossip. How often that can happen!
    Thanks for hosting.

    1. Oh yes, we have to be careful when sharing prayer requests to make sure we're not using it as an excuse to gossip, don't we?

  2. I have a difficult person in my life that I used to pray "for" and have, over the last six months or so, stopped praying for them altogether, Nan. I guess it's no wonder that my anger is coming back and getting hotter! Good reminder to lay it down before the Lord and pray blessings on this person's life. And it's funny that today my thought for the day from my Bible reading was to "let go of grudges." Maybe God's using you as His gentle nudge to me to trust Him with this person.

    1. What a beautiful thought, Beth! I love it when God does things like that and you can see His hand.

      It's hard to pray those blessings sometimes, but it really does help US in the long run and blesses us.

  3. Nan,

    I have been in an intense spiritual battle over a difficult person for a very long time. Everything you have written about I have had to do, though it grieves me that it has to be that way. (Dealing with a high maintenance, toxic person who is more than happy to keep taking and demanding more, no matter how much you have already given.)

    What is so insightful about this post is that I have personally experienced the change and peace in my own heart when I began really praying for the person, instead of just praying about them and ME!

    I can't say I'm on the other side of the battle yet, but there have been some small victories. I highly recommend the book Bold Love by Dr. Dan B. Allender and Dr. Tremper Longman.
    That book became a lifeline to me(next to God's Word) for all the times I thought I might "go under."
    It helped me to see that it was O.K. to set boundaries and even consequences for those who would gladly take over your life and wreak havoc on it.

    More importantly, it defines what it truly means to love someone and that love, at times, must be tough and bold.

    Blessings to you for writing this! I know it is much needed for many people!

    1. Yes, sometimes that love has to step back and stop enabling someone. Or step back and force others to take responsibility for their OWN lives and their own choices. Or step back and refuse to do for others what they can do for themselves.

      Thanks for the book suggestions, I will look into them!

  4. Nan, great post. I've been writing about a similar topic lately through a weekly series on No Drama: Living a more Peaceful life...2 weeks ago the topic was prayer and I made a lot of similar points about praying for them instead of about them. Blessings to you.

    1. Isn't it amazing how many times we all will write about similar topics? Great minds think alike, lol!

  5. Some excellent advice here. I was glad that you setting up healthy boundaries was up at the top. So necessary in order to keep oneself in a healthy place spiritually, emotionally & mentally. Blessings!

    1. Thank you! Yes, as hard as it is sometimes we do need to set those boundaries in order to protect ourselves as well as our families.

  6. I look forward to your linky party and inspirational words each week. Very helpful reminders about what is important in our life..

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Judee! I love how you spell your name! ;)

  7. Thank you for this post. I think it is important to remember that praying for someone is for our relationship with them and praying about someone is for our relationship with Him. Both types of prayers are so important.

    1. Yes they are, Catherine. We are praying for help and grace for ourselves as well as for our DP.

  8. Very good information my dear ... you are such a better person than me. Healthy boundaries are SO important.

    Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
    Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

    1. Oh no, I'm not, Lanaya, lol! ;)

      I agree, healthy boundaries ARE important and can be a life saver sometime, or a sanity saver!

  9. Excellent post! How often we need to heed your advice, especially in the area of prayer FOR someone, not just praying ABOUT someone!

    You gave me some real food for thought today!

    1. We definitely need to do both, don't we? Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Oops! That last comment had my Oooooold blog, and not my new one!


    1. That's an easy thing to do, Lisa, in this day and age, lol! This happens a lot of facebook too when someone accidentally comments as their spouse or child, lol!

  11. This is my year for learning to pray. I began out of obedience, and now occasionally, the dawn of love crests the horizon....

    1. It is amazing when God transforms our anger and bitterness into a caring love for that person, isn't it? Doesn't mean we have to be best friends but it does mean that we can love them as the Lord wants us to and pray for them.

  12. Good stuff, Nan! "Sometimes we have to learn to pray out of obedience before we can learn to pray out of love." Whew...yeah, that's truth! :)

  13. Wonderful ideas! There is such a difference between praying for and praying about. I've also found it so important to pray for myself before I attempt to pray for my spouse or anyone else.

    1. Oh yes, Alecia. We need to remember to pray for ourselves as well! Great reminder! :)

  14. Thanks for sharing this over at WholeHearted Home this week. Have a blessed weekend.


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