Who drives you mad the most?


I always think it is completely fascinating and quite liberating to consider that often the most difficult, challenging and annoying people that come into our lives are the ones that have the most to teach us!

While that difficult work colleague, argumentative parent, frustrating friend or exasperating lover might be a source of pain and discomfort on one level. They might also be the person who actually helps us unlock some of our deepest inner healing or important life lessons – so don’t discount your interactions with them too quickly!

Why? Because they often reflect back to us or trigger some unresolved deep-rooted issues that we really need to work on internally and help us see where we might need to grow and heal to experience healthier and more complete lives. It might be useful to imagine them as the flag bearers in our life whose purpose it is to signpost us (sometimes with big neon lights) where we have some inner conflict that needs addressing.

An example of this might be the lover who disappears, triggering deep rooted abandonment issues that allows you to reconnect with yourself; or the critical boss who tries to undermine your confidence which, in turn, helps you increase your sense of self-worth; or the friend or relative that takes liberties who helps you understand the need for healthier boundaries.

There are a myriad of possible scenarios and difficult personalities, of course, and we will all have our own personal set of ‘challenging people’ who I’m sure we can bring to mind very quickly. But if we chose to see our adversaries from this higher view, it’s amazing how quickly we can radically transform even the most difficult relationships into something far more rewarding and enlightening.

Often our antagonists are the people closest to us…

Often these antagonists are the people closest to us. They might be our parents, siblings, friends, partners or work colleagues and of course they will all have their own issues they are also working through because none of us are perfect. One thing is for sure though they will all be people who know exactly which buttons to press to wind us and send us spinning.

I recall a particularly heated exchange I once had with an old boss once, who really ruffled my feathers and told me in no uncertain terms that she thought “I was too sensitive”. I remember being really offended at the time because it had been meant as a criticism but when I walked away from the conversation and eventually walked away from the job it made me realise that she had done me a great favour.

What she had actually done was remind me of one of my greatest strengths not my greatest weaknesses. I was sensitive and empathetic but it was something to embraced and cherished not criticised or berated. And it wasn’t long after that I moved into the charity sector and took up my counselling course. If it hadn’t of been for her unkind words that day I might not ever have had the courage to change direction and follow my true calling.

Of course, these ‘challenging folk’ who cross our paths have probably not set out to consciously teach us anything at all. I don’t think for one second my angry old boss was there shouting at me thinking this is just what she needs to elevate her to the next stage of development. But there may well be a higher soul level agreement or unconscious contract at play which is not even evident outright.

Often, I hear people say ‘I don’t know why I did it but it just felt like the right thing to do’ and sometimes we might have to trust that a harsh life lesson might crack open a much bigger spiritual life lesson. If we can stay open to this possibility and chose to take the higher view and change our perspective of what the relationship is throwing up, it may speed up and facilitate the healing that actually needs to take place.

In some respects though in the ‘teaching agreement’ the other person’s actions are irrelevant. It is only our reaction to their actions that really matter. The way that we choose to respond. People can wind us up as much as they like, of course but ultimately only we can create our own reality by the way we chose to respond. Only this is in our immediate control.

If we keep meeting similar types of people or similar scenarios who trigger us, then it’s worth taking a long hard look at that. Perhaps there is some larger life lesson or better response that we are still needing to learn to love ourselves into greater spiritual growth and healing.