You are listening to My Freedom Grove podcast with Gretchen Hernandez, episode 65.
Welcome to My Freedom Grove podcast. The all inclusive podcast that teaches mindset and business tools. We'll help you rise as your authentic self. Be unshakable with your emotional freedom and unstoppable in achieving any goal and living your purpose. I'm your host, Gretchen Hernandez. If you want to put your mental health first in life, relationships and business, you've come to the right place.
Hello my strong friends. Do you go shopping on a regular basis? Like just grocery shopping? I found that a weekly cadence of going every Sunday was something that really worked for us. And while I was there on our last shopping trip, I started to observe the people that were in the grocery store. Have you ever noticed that there's a bunch of cranky people out there? There's some nice people too, but there's some really cranky people out there.
Now, when you're there, do you find yourself drawn to the cranky people or are you just trying to stay a thousand miles away from them? I don't blame you. Cranky people really are not fun. We can also just call them difficult people. I find myself drawn to them because I know that I have a way to help them.
I started trying to figure out what makes people tick way back when I was in middle school. I had a bully that was there. A female bully who was being really mean to all of the other girls, especially in the locker room. And I'm a bit of a defender. I like to stand up for other people. I don't like anyone to get hurt. So here's this person who's being very mean. And I challenged her on it. And I was like, Hey, you can't treat people this way. And she of course challenged me to a fight after school.
I'm like 13, I have zero fighting skills. But I cared enough about all of the other people that I was willing to stand up to the bully. When we got together after school, she was astonished. She couldn't believe that I had actually shown up. We ended up not fighting that day. We ended up talking. In fact, we even sat down and we started talking about why it was that she was acting out this way.
She eventually shared that this was a relatively new school. She was scared to be alone. And so it just felt better. She'd get a lot more attention from other people acting this way. But really she was just lonely and she wanted a friend. And I thought, well, I can be a friend. I know how to do that. And so I started to be her friend and over a couple of weeks, she completely transformed into a different person. Her pain was gone. She had some friendships. She wasn't lonely anymore. She had no need to be mean to anybody anymore.
It made me realize that not every mean or cranky or difficult person is there trying to hurt people. They're usually acting out of some type of pain.
That led me down a path of peer coaching. I started doing that in high school. And just always learning from books and movies and wherever I could find things to find out what made people tick. Especially when they were feeling really down or they were being really cranky. What was it?
If I could focus on the pain and help them resolve that pain, then they wouldn't be that cranky, mean, difficult person anymore.
Now I'm sharing this with you guys because I've had several folks, either through my coaching program or in my men's feelings matter support group that have encountered difficult people in their life. It could be at work, could be at school, could be in business, any of those areas. And it feels so much better to just not be around those mean people. Like how can we leave? I mean, that is really the quickest way to give yourself relief. Is just to leave the situation.
And trust me, there are times I really wanted to leave the situation too. I mean, nobody wants to deal with all of these difficult people. But if we start cutting everybody out of our life, because we might have relationships too , where there's difficult people. If we cut everybody out, we're leaving a lot of the things that we wanted. Like say it was a job that we absolutely loved. And we left the job because of a difficult person. Now we had to give up the job that we really loved just because of one person. If we had a relationship and we decided, nope, we can't deal with this difficult person anymore. We leave the relationship. There might be all of the family and friends that are associated with that relationship that now we're stepping away from. If it's a business that we have, where we're the owner of the business, and because of one person, we decided to step away from the whole business, we might be walking away from the thing that we totally love. Just because of one person.
What are ways that we can help ourselves to be unshakable around those difficult people? I have three things for you. And I cover these also in my Defense Mechanisms course.
The first one is to see their pain. Instead of focusing on the actions were actually paying attention and looking for the pain so that we can help them.
The second one is to set boundaries so that they know how to treat us. We might be willing to help them, but we don't have to get hurt in the process.
And then three ultimately is to remove them or to remove you from the situation. Why do you think these difficult people are in your life?
I believe the universe brings together people that need each other. So if you have a difficult person that has come into your life, it's typically because they need you or you need them. Or it could be that you both need each other.
It may really feel like "why does my life have to be so hard?" "Why do I keep having all of these difficult people in my life?"
Because you're the best one to help them.
You've encountered something else in your life, where you've had to learn your own unique skill so that you could self-soothe or help yourself handle some type of a stress, or some type of a difficult thing in your life. You've learned all sorts of different modalities and techniques and tools. There's something in there that's probably perfect for the person who is now showing up as a difficult person.
You may be a Healer and you don't even know it.
You might not even have a job where officially you're a Healer. But everything that you've gone through has helped you to develop those healing skills. And you have the right heart to do this. This may not be the person that you want to work with, but they were brought into your life because they needed you.
So how is it that you can see their pain? Well, I call it seeing the pain, but really you're listening for it. Those difficult people are going to be saying all sorts of things. Now we may focus a lot on their actions and we may be focusing on their words, but are we focusing on the right words?
Oftentimes we're reacting to their words, seeing it as a threat against us. But if we are looking for the other words, the ones that have nothing to do with us, we're going to find the pain.
So for example, if someone has talked for 20 minutes and somewhere in that talk, they said, "it's all just too much." That may not come off as a threat to us because it has nothing to do with us. But that's the thing that you're listening for. Those phrases that they're saying that have nothing to do with us and everything to do with them.
Because we're trying to understand what feelings are they having that are contributing to the actions that we're seeing.
We can apply the coaching model here. When we're paying attention to people, there was something that triggered the person. So with the coaching model, we know that a person who's triggered has always started with some type of a circumstance. That's just a noun and a verb. Factual, no descriptions around it. It's something that everybody else would be able to see.
From that (circumstance) their brain is automatically assigning some type of a thought to it. And it's pulling out of our old mindset, our bag full of thoughts and beliefs, and it's assigning it to that circumstance. It does that super, super fast. It makes it seem like the circumstance and the thought are tied together as a truth.
So for example, if someone said it's all just too much, they're taking some circumstance or a couple of different circumstances, assigning a thought that "it's all just too much." And from that, they're getting all of these feelings: overwhelm, anger, sadness, whatever it might be.
And then that's causing the rest of their actions. All of the rest of the words that they're saying to you. However, they're showing up as a difficult person. Their actions, they might be slamming their fist on a counter, whatever it is, those are all just actions that came from the feeling generated by that first thought.
Now, the reason why we want to see that difference is because if we can figure out what that thought was that caused their feelings, that resulted in all of these other actions that he really don't want to deal with.
We can target that thought. We can help them to get rid of that thought. That's the pain that's being caused for them.
If we can help them to resolve that one pain point, then the rest of the actions dissolve away. The person is no longer going to be a difficult person. If they're not displaying all of those other actions.
So when you have a difficult person show up in your life, listen to them, do some Empathic Listening, where you're caring for them.
You're thinking about...Okay, this person is showing up in this difficult way because they're in pain.
What is the pain? And just listen to them.
Maybe even encourage them to talk more and talk more and talk more. Now I know that you're going to want to react to them because we typically pay attention to the actions. And those other words that are meant to hurt other people or unload responsibility or blame.
Don't listen to those. Just know that that is just part of their expression of their pain. None of that is real. None of that deserves any of your attention.
They're just trying to get the pain out of their body.
One of the things that has helped me with this, so I don't get caught up in paying attention to their actions and those other words, is to think of a person who's in pain as having a whole bunch of poison in their body. This poison, so that's basically that thought that they were having...caused them all of the feeling...that's the poison. It has created more poison in their body. They're just trying to get the poison out so that they can survive.
Because somewhere in their mind, they're thinking they're not safe.
In my Defense Mechanism course, I talk about how almost all defense mechanisms boil down to one of two things:
Of not being important. Somewhere, when they're having some thought, that has that core behind it. Loss of love, loss of status. They're feeling unsafe. And it creates like all of this extra poison in their body. In order for them to feel better, they have to get the poison out of their body. So it's almost like vomiting out this poison.
Now you, as the recipient, can recognize that they're just a person trying to get the poison out of their body. And we care about the other person as a human being. We can allow them to get all of that out and just let it fall to the ground. It's not anything that we have to ingest ourselves, right? We don't have to take their words as meaning anything about us. It's just them trying to get all of their feelings out. We let it spill all over the ground and we' even encouraged them. Yeah, come on, get it all out, get it all out.
And then we're listening the whole time. Trying to see...what is that thought that was causing all of this poison to build up?
Now, once you can isolate that thought, here's how you can help the other person. If you can think of a time in your life that you had a similar thought, try to imagine, what was it that was going on? What was your circumstance that was causing you to have that thought?
Think of the feelings that generated in you. Some of the actions that you had. The results that those actions had for you or the people around you. This is your personal story for how you can make a connection with that person over the pain.
You can allow them to do all of the talking. You can say, "Hey, you know, I really understand where you're coming from. I remember a time when..." And so you're sharing your story, you're being vulnerable.
And somewhere in there, you're dropping that THOUGHT.
Because you heard it. Even if they didn't realize they said it, you heard that thought.
So you're going to make sure that you share that thought that you had. As soon as you do, that person's going to connect with you immediately because they're going to think, Oh yes, that's exactly what I was feeling too. Or that's exactly what I was thinking. And then all of a sudden they might open up about more stuff about the pain.
So now they have taken that really important turn.
Now they know that they're with someone that can understand them at the pain level. (=TRUST).
And then you can listen to them, share more of their pain. If they're willing to do that, or you can share how you went from that one thought. You can share the impact that having that thought had on you. And how you knew that that wasn't the healthiest thing for you. That it was causing you all sorts of your own emotional distress.
And what the new thought was that you went to what changed it all for you. Your aha moment. And what was life like for you after you had that new thought?
Just by doing that one thing, by sharing that one story, you're letting the person who's in pain know that there's hope. And you've connected with them at that thought level.
Even if your circumstance is completely different. Now they know...here's one thought they can think. This other thought. And that there's hope that there can be a better outcome for them.
At that point, you can offer to help them with it if you want to offer that help.
But what you've done, just that one story might be all that they needed.
They just needed someone to be courageously vulnerable with them. Share a time when you also went through a struggle like that and how it was completely possible to switch to a different thought and have a much different outcome that worked better for you emotionally and the people around you.
So what happens if the thought that they share is something that you've never experienced in your life?
That can be quite tricky. That's where having a network of other people that you know, that especially know this type of thought work, if you can connect up: that thought. Someone else that you know (who also struggled with that thought), you can share their story.
If you don't feel comfortable sharing their story, you can see if you can connect them. You can just say, Hey, I know of a person who went through something similar, even though the circumstance might be different.You'd have to explain and connect the dots about how it was similar. And then you can offer to introduce them.
Because once you can connect people that have the same pain point, the person who's already resolved it can become that teacher, that mentor or coach for that person to help them resolve the pain.
Once people are out of pain, they're not going to be using their defense mechanisms.
Those defense mechanisms are all of those painful actions and words that they're using just to try to keep themselves safe.
If that connection is not possible, you can always turn to that person that, you know, that had the pain to say, Hey, can you help me? Can you educate me? Can you teach me more about what it was that you went through? Because I've encountered someone in my life that seems to be going through that pain. And I'd like to be able to help them.
Of course, this only makes sense if this is going to be a person that you encounter again, or this particular pain point seems to be a theme for the people that keep coming into your life. So learning how to help resolve that one pain is going to make all of the difference in the world.
There comes a time in everybody's life, where they were the actual difficult person. I know that has been the case for me. There's been many times in my life where I was having some pain and I was having some bad feelings from it. So my actions, my reactions, my words, everything ended up being difficult in front of somebody else.
I'm going to share two different examples of this and how the other person's reaction to me being the difficult person, either hindered or helped the process.
So when my eldest son was in middle school, he was the popular kid. He was the captain of the football team. And most of the kids around loved him. In fact, he was voted most likely to succeed at his eighth grade graduation, but he started to get bullied when he was 12.
There was one kid. The Least likely person that you would think would be the bully. Small kid, kind of on the thin side. Loner, no one really spent much time with him. He would say things to my son to trigger him. Now, my son has Tourette's and OCD. So it didn't take much to trigger him anyway. So this other kid figured out all of the right buttons to push with my son. And it would cause my son to react. And then that of course would catch the teacher's attention. My son would be labeled as the troublemaker. Yet, really all he was doing was sitting there trying to do his work. He was always a great student. Always very respectful to the teacher. Following all of the rules.
But here was this kid over in the corner who just felt like he needed to cause some trouble. So my son would get in trouble. And this would cause him to have a lot of extra feelings about this. So at age 12, my son started to feel suicidal because he felt like there was no possible hope.
As long as this kid was always in the classroom with him. So he looked forward to other classes where this kid wasn't there. Cause then he could just have a breather. Because he didn't have someone there who was constantly trying to push his buttons and create some type of a reaction.
So when my son started writing suicide notes, obviously that catches your attention. So I went to the school and at this point, this had triggered me. Because as a mom, you tend to freak out when your kid gets suicidal. And especially if he's telling you he's being bullied at school.
So I go to the middle school principal and I'm pretty frantic. And I'm like, you have to do something about this other kid.
This other kid happened to be on a behavior program. Like there were some special protocols in place that would allow a lot of leeway for this kid's behavior. Because of his background and some of the other stuff going on with him.
So the way that the principal interpreted that plan, there was nothing that could be done to this kid. Like there were no consequences for anything he was doing. So the principal was like, Nope, it's all on you. Your son just has to toughen up.
Well, my son was suicidal. So it continued for like another month. And it wasn't until my son started passing his suicidal notes to the other kids in the class, that all of a sudden it caught the school's attention. Because in these notes, he's saying how he wants to bring a gun to school and shoot himself in front of the classroom. That's pretty alarming.
So at that point, then of course the principal is coming down on me saying, I need to do something. And I'm asking her, can you help me? It's just this one kid. Can you just have them not be in the same classroom? It was as simple as that. But she did not want to work with me. And I was showing up as the difficult person, because I am freaked out that my son's going to kill himself. Now we didn't have any guns in the house. So I made sure that he couldn't actually act on his plan, but it's enough to cause you to be a difficult person because of course you've got pain. I'm worried that my kid is going to hurt himself or that he could possibly hurt somebody else. And I'm just asking for some help.
So that's an example of when someone doesn't know how to handle a difficult person...ME. (She) Isn't willing to listen to the pain. Isn't willing to see, is there some other kind of solution?
So an opposite example of this was with my daughter's principal at her school. So my daughter was also getting bullied in second and third grade. My daughter's autistic. And so the other kids were doing things to push her buttons, causing her to react. Dumping sand on her head, calling her names, saying all sorts of stuff. It would cause my daughter to want to run away from the school. Of course, she just wanted to run home and be safe and not have anybody trying to hurt her or say mean things. She just wanted to exist.
I was kind of at my wit's end.
Because I was getting called from the school while I was at work. I'm there in front of large groups of people teaching them something or facilitating a workshop. These were really expensive programs. A lot of high paid people that I am there helping. And I get called in the middle of it. It's like, Oh no, wait, hold on, everybody, let me go. And you know, I'd get a call. Oh, your daughter's overreacting to something. So then I'd have to leave work.
I'm frazzled come to the elementary school and I'm just losing it because I don't know what to do.
It's like, yes, my daughter with autism, she is more sensitive to things. But yes, other kids are picking on her and I need to be able to work. And I need to be able to have my daughter in school where she's safe. What am I going to do? It's like this rock and a hard place.
My daughter really wanted to be homeschooled. But I couldn't do it while I was working for another company.
So the principal, Oh my gosh, just love this woman. She took off her principal hat for a second and she decided to listen to me as a human being.
She cried with me. She let me cry. We were sitting on the blacktop on a picnic table. And she's like, you know, I'm a mom too. And she's like, I'm not going to pretend that I'm not. And she starts crying with me. Tears are welling up in her eyes and she's like, I get it.
She's letting me know that my pain was actually valid.
She wasn't viewing me as a difficult person. She was listening to everything that I had to say.
And that's when she said, you know, I think your daughter's autistic. And at the time, I didn't know my daughter was autistic. I do now. But at the time I didn't. And so she let me know of ways that I would go through to get my daughter tested and how I could get a special plan for her that would also allow some extra protection (accommodations) for her. And that they would actually do some things with some of these other kids that were causing her the pain. But also it would help to start teaching us all of the ways that we could help my daughter so that she could be functioning in the world. So we'd understand what her different triggers were. We could experiment with all of the different solutions.
Because this principal decided to be human for a minute, it just, it wasn't her job to do any of that. You know, she just, she saw another human being that was in a lot of pain and she stopped. She stopped her world and she's like, you know what? Just one human to another human, I care about you. And here's some stuff I think that will help.
Oh my gosh, that completely changed my world.
And I started to learn how to do all of this stuff with my daughter. And some of the things that I've learned from that principal, from the different, counselors that we've worked with, from the other teachers that were familiar with autistic kids...they were teaching me some of those things, some of those tools are now the tools that I help to teach my clients. Because they're just standard behavior tools. But we have to know how to apply them in the right way. And to also be able to coach ourselves through wanting to use them for ourselves or wanting to use them with other people. All from a pure place of just trying to help people.
So just remember, when we're seeing these difficult people out in the world, these are real people.
We can choose to take a pause and help them, or we can choose to just see them as a difficult person and whatever pain they have can escalate.
They might've been trying to help someone like my son. If I hadn't of finally pulled my son into a psychologist and got him on a whole bunch of medicine, if he had found a way to bring a gun to the school that could have been disastrous. But that principal didn't want to take the time to help. She might have contributed to a tragedy actually happening.
So do we want to take the time to be human with other people?
Or do we just want to label them as difficult and shove them aside? And then complain later on when bad things happen in the world?
The next way to deal with the difficult people in your life is to set some boundaries. You teach other people how to treat you. If someone is using words or actions that are hurting you, you have the right to put that line in the sand and say, no. I'd really like to help you. Or I'd really like to spend time with you. But when you do this action, or when you say these words to me, it makes it so that I don't enjoy your company. It can just be that simple.
It's so hard to not get caught up in our own emotions. Cause we're going to get triggered by their actions and their words. But if we can focus specifically on what action on what exact words, then we can share that with the other person.
So when we're establishing that boundary, we're not making any judgements about the other person. We're not labeling them.
We're saying specifically the facts that we saw, what was the circumstance that we observed. So we'll use that coaching model on ourselves. There's a circumstance that happens. It's a person, right? A noun and a verb. What was the thing that they did? And this is something that anybody else that was around would be able to see. Like if there was a video camera and someone was recording it and they showed it to anybody else in the world. That they would be able to say, yep, I saw that person raise their hand. Or I saw that person kick this box. Or I saw this person say these words. And they say the words, exactly. Those are all of the circumstances. They're neutral, They're facts.
Anything else that we put around it, that's our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. If we're describing it, if we're using adjectives, then now we have influenced what really happened with our own thoughts. The other person may not have the same interpretation that we have.
And especially if we're talking with someone else about the difficult person. They may not have the same interpretation that we had. But if we can keep it to exactly what were the facts that could be observed by anybody. And now we can lay out those boundaries for the other person.
Hey, I'm willing to work with you. But when you say these words or you use these actions, I can't enjoy our time together.
So I'm going to be over here, right? So when I say, be over here, it's whatever space is yours. That is not theirs. That's where you're going to be. And when they're ready to have their actions or their words, follow the boundaries that you've set for working with you or engaging with you, then they can come into your space.
If it was their space, then you can share that you will not be in their space as long as they're using these particular actions or these particular words. That you would take yourself away, go into a space that was not theirs. And that you would be more than happy to come back into their space once they are acting in a way that does not include those types of words or those kinds of actions.
Once someone knows the very specifics, those actions, those words, it makes it so much easier to follow those rules. They'll know exactly what's okay and what's not okay.
If we're using other descriptions around it. All of our other thoughts, it's very confusing. Especially because that's not what they observed. And if it had been videotaped, they would look at it. They wouldn't see any of that in the video tape. Because all of that was all of the thoughts that we were having. Our own defense mechanisms could have been triggered, causing all of that.
So make sure to keep it very factual.
And then it becomes very clear what is acceptable behavior What is not acceptable behavior.
And if they do actually want to have some interaction with you, they're going to be willing to follow those rules.
So our final one is to remove the person or remove yourself permanently. So if you've already shared what your boundaries were, you've already been willing to be empathetic with them, to listen to their pain, to even offer, to help them with their pain. If they don't take you up on those offers, then it's Time for you to consider not having them in your life.
Yeah, I know that's not an easy decision to make. It could be quite heartbreaking even. But this is for your own mental health.
You have to decide, when is it just not worth it?
There's this saying that I learned from a coach a few years ago:
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
And if you find that you're the person that is doing all of the work, all of the self-coaching trying to help yourself to be able to stand being around this other person. After a while, it can get pretty exhausting. You can spend hours or even hundreds of hours adjusting yourself and adjusting your own thinking so that you can be around this other person. And how they're acting, the words that they're saying, their actions, all of that. There's a responsibility on them too.
If they want this to be a joint relationship. So work relationship, business relationship, relationship, you know, in the public sector or a personal relationship, they have to put in some of that work too. It's not all one sided. So if it does start to feel like it is all one sided, that juice just isn't worth the squeeze.
You're allowed to have an easier life. You can definitely choose to not have that relationship anymore. You only have one life. You get to decide what is going to make you the happiest.
There's difficult people all around us. Like I mentioned, in the beginning, I went to the grocery store. There were so many cranky people there. And I started thinking, what if I had made the choice to only be around the easy people, the nice people. What would that look like?
And I started looking at this sea of shoppers at the grocery store. There was probably easily a hundred people within my view. And I think I saw maybe three people who were nice, that would be easy to be around. So that would be a very different life.
If I tried to cut out all of the difficult people, get rid of 97% of the people in that grocery store, there's only three left.
I don't know where you're going to find that in the world. I moved out to Mendocino County to be with people that were nicer, right? A lot of the people out here are retired, so they don't have this stress of work anymore, but there's several that are still working from home. But let me tell you, this was Mendocino where I was grocery shopping. There were still 97% of the people that were cranky or seeming difficult. And this is like in the nicest place in the world.
So I can only imagine what it's like, where you're at. The amount of difficult people that you have to deal with every day. It's tough. It really is. But when we are focused so much on their actions and words and allowing it to trigger us, it's going to make it that much harder.
But when you can focus on...these people are in a lot of pain. Your view of the world changes a lot.
I like to think of like cute little cuddly bear cubs. If you saw a cute little cuddly bear cub walking around, you would be drawn to it, right? Because it's cute and cuddly.
But as soon as it gets a thorn in its paw, it can turn into one mean little bear cub. No matter how cute and cuddly it is, now, all of a sudden it's teeth and claws. And it's going to try to lash out at you because it's in pain.
But if you can see that all it is, is a thorn in their paw. And that there's some way you can keep yourself safe while coming up and asking it. You want me to take that thorn out? Of course, bears don't understand English, but you know what I'm getting at. If you can get the thorn out of their paw, all of a sudden they're going to return to the cute cuddly bear cub.
So when you're seeing that sea of all of these little bear cubs that are out there, 97% of them have thorns in their paws. If you can go and start plucking them out one at a time, then eventually, instead of just having three nice people in the world, you can have 20 nice people. And then 40 nice people. And it keeps going on and on.
Because once someone has had that thorn taken out of their paw, they become a different person.
They learn from the kindness of the other person and they want to turn around and be kind to the next person.
So then it has this ripple effect. One person being kind...saving, or healing, three other people. Those people now want to turn around and help three more people. So what is that like nine more? So from you helping three now, 12 people have done better or feel better.
And then those people want to turn around and help the next people.
This can become so much easier to get the world to be less difficult, less cranky, a lot nicer, a lot more loving and compassionate.
It just starts with one person.
So you get to decide, do you want to be that person in the world? And which people are you willing to help? You don't have to help all of them. But if you help just one person, what would that do?
All right my strong friends. Get out there, spread some love. Make sure to love yourself first. Have a great week. Bye bye.
Thank you for listening to My Freedom Grove podcast. I can't wait to work with you directly. I'll help you to be your authentic self, to have amazing relationships and to live your purpose. I invite you to check out unshakable men and unshakable women. The unshakable programs will give you all of the tools, the coaching and the community to help you rise in life, relationships, and business. To learn more, go to myfreedomgrove.com/work with me. I can't wait to see you there.
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