Some difficult people do what they do to feel needed, to get attention, or to have a sense of worth. But more often than not, difficult people don’t know how else to express themselves and resort to being unlikable as a form of self-defense. For some, their anger or unhappiness is so deep that it becomes a way of life and difficult people will continue on this path until they’re able to grow from the hurt inside them.
Are you frustrated at the constant arguments that always seem to disrupt your life as you routinely deal with a difficult, high maintenance, or self-centered person? The difficult person might be your husband, wife, mother, partner, best friend, or coworker. He or she is difficult because it always seems like they have to be right. Difficult people dominate the conversation, belittle and condescend to others, are prone to arguments and just leave you feeling either frazzled and nervous, or extremely tired.
Often when we deal with difficult people, we’re left with a yucky feeling inside, but we’re not sure why. The very same conversation that would have taken place if we had spoken to a likable friend might have felt like an easing of the soul. But instead, you shared with the difficult one in your life. Now you’re regretting what you said. You don’t feel good about it. Here’s why you feel the way you feel:
The problem with difficult people
Difficult people lack empathy. From the time that they were small children, they were likely in a competitive social setting. This is what they’re used to, and thrive on. To them, life is a contest, and they will use just about anything, including and especially your feelings and vulnerabilities, to come out the winner.
How difficult people behave
If today is a day when you need emotional reassurance of some kind, the difficult person will astutely perceive this, and then deny you your need. Maybe you had a bad day at work, and you just want someone to tell you that you’re a good person despite this unpleasant episode. Instead, the difficult person notices that you are especially weak today. They choose the moment to belittle and criticize you. Maybe they’re even telling you haughtily that you have no right to feel the way you feel, that you are a drama queen, or that you overreact.
Difficult people are both aggressive and passive-aggressive. Basically, they have a problem with control. This may be because they grew up in the midst of someone manipulative. Most likely a parent, but could be anyone whom they were influenced by. People who were raised on manipulation are likely to be super sensitive to being emotionally controlled by others. They believe that the next person is out to control them even if that’s not the case.
This is why, when you ask a difficult person to do something simple, like make you a sandwich because you don’t feel good, they will behave in an odd, passive-aggressive, and immature way.
They might make the sandwich but put salami on it when they well know that you don’t like salami. Then when you politely remind them about your dislike of salami, they will act as though you are an ingrate.
Or, they could pick this moment to become aggressive and angry with you for some irrelevant thing. They blow the situation out of proportion, yell at you, then leave the house in a huff, never making the sandwich. The difficult person somehow instinctively knows that this behavior will cause you to not ask for that sandwich from them on another day. In their mind, they have “won.”