18 Ideas For Dealing With Difficult Family and Friends

Dealing with difficult people has been one of my biggest life’s lessons. A few years ago, my world was filled with unhealthy relationships that kept me trapped in a cycle of arguments, anxiety and discontentment. 

I look back now and see my relationships and the people I attracted into my life were all a reflection of my own thoughts and beliefs about myself. 

I had a challenging childhood in which I learned I was never good enough and that conflict was the only way. I did not know what it meant to love myself, and I did not know what joy truly felt like. They were simply terms that people, used but I couldn’t find their resonance in my heart. 

I lived my life from a place of fear and, as such, I honestly believed the world was a scary place, and difficult people were a predominant part of the reality of being alive. I had no idea I could in fact have a life filled with love and healthy, fulfilling relationships. 

I have been on a huge journey of personal growth in order to create a beautiful life I love. Now I have a magical relationship with my partner, abundant friendships, and I live in harmony with everyone I know. Yes, there are still a couple of difficult people I’ve allowed to remain in my life, but the way in which I relate to them now is completely different, and I no longer give them permission to affect me. 

I’ve shared a number of practical ways you can deal with negative relationships in your life, focusing on transforming yourself and changing how you relate to your world. 

Below are 18 ideas for dealing with difficult family members and other difficult people in your life.

1. Take Responsibility

The world is a mirror of our inner state of being. If something negative arises in our life, there is normally a lesson in it for us somewhere. So ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Perhaps you can learn to speak up for yourself, or perhaps you can learn to be more understanding.

2. Move On

Not every relationship in your life was meant to last a lifetime. It’s perfectly okay to let go of people who don’t bring you the joy in life you deserve. Make space for new, enriching relationships to enter your life. 

3. Identify And Release

What really distresses us about difficult family members is not in fact actually them. Rather, it is the emotions that they trigger within us. Anger, panic, hurt etc. Identify the real root cause of why this person bothers you so much and let it go. 

4. Distance Yourself 

There is no rule that says that you absolutely must spend a certain amount of time with someone or see them regularly. You are the one who decides based upon what feels right for you. Actively limit your exposure to negative people even if their in your own family.

5. Protect Your Energy

Some people have toxic energy, and you can find yourself drained, depressed, and angry after being in their presence for too long. When you are in their presence, imagine yourself surrounded by an armor of impenetrable white light. Imagine all of their negativity bouncing off you, unable to enter into your energy field. 

6. Respect Yourself

When you really respect yourself, you don’t spend time with people who treat you badly. Start believing you deserve to have a life filled with abundant relationships and people who make your heart sing. 

7. Send Them Love

No matter how difficult someone is, they are doing the best they can on their journey. You can energetically send them love without involving yourself in their negative patterns. Imagine the beautiful love you send supporting them to move to a place of healing and joy. 

8. Don’t Engage 

By engaging in the negative patterns of difficult people and difficult family, you give them the fuel they crave, and they continue to churn out their unhealthy behavior. Withdraw from their drama, reconnect with your breath and find that still place within you. They can’t get you there. 

9. Stop It

Part of what keeps negative relationships stuck in our lives is our tendency to make ourselves wrong. We justify the other person’s actions by thinking that we were at fault. Stop making yourself wrong. Take responsibility if it is due, but don’t forget to see a situation with open eyes. 

10. Create Boundaries

If you don’t create boundaries for family and friends in your life, then they will treat you however they wish. Empower yourself by clarifying to yourself and others exactly what you deem to be the line between acceptable and unacceptable.  

11. Increase Your Vibration

If you have difficult folks around you, then something in your energetic vibration is attracting it. Keep checking your vibration and increasing it by doing things that make you feel light and joyful. 

12. Love Yourself

When you have difficult people in your life, it’s easy to get very caught up in the drama and emotional distress. But it always come back to the singular most important thing you can ever do in your life — love yourself. Connect with your love, and allow it to align you with your authentic self. 

13. Communicate Lovingly

Some of us express ourselves in emotionally unhealthy ways — angrily saying things we don’t mean or suppressing our emotions and giving the silent treatment. Take time away from the negative situation, and ask yourself the most kind and effective way you can communicate. Find a balanced, loving way to share your truth.  

14. Choose To Refuse

Negative words and actions of others can penetrate into our subconscious mind and bring our energy down. But we always have a choice. Refuse to allow their negativity to enter your mind and being. Instead, focus on things that keep your vibration light. 

15. Have A Break

Physically moving out of the person’s presence can really help to give you the break you need. Go outside, connect with nature, take deep breaths and center yourself. Remind yourself they have no power over you.  All is well. 

16. Realize It Isn’t About You

Difficult acquaintances are difficult with everyone. They aren’t reacting to you but rather to the thoughts that arise in their own minds, which anyone can trigger at any time. Don’t take it personally. 

17. Have Compassion

If you find them difficult in the time you spend with them, then can you imagine how unpleasant it must be for them to live with their own negativity 24-7? Imagine what must have happened in their past in order to for them to be as they are, and feel compassion toward them. 

18. Accept Them

Family and acquaintances only change when they are ready and willing to do so. You could drive yourself mad trying to change someone — but to no avail. Accept them for who they are and where they are on their journey. Set yourself free.

Do you have any other suggestions that have worked for you? If so, please leave them in the comments below.

Jessica Heslop is a student of A Course In Miracles. She is the founder of Live The Life You Love, which supports others to live a life filled with authenticity, abundance, infinite love and joy. Hop on over there and you can get access to her highly regarded A Guided Meditation On Love And Loving You

photo credit: David Blackwell. via photopin

32 thoughts on “18 Ideas For Dealing With Difficult Family and Friends”

  1. Hi Jessica,

    All great tips. I think the key one is Point 1 – taking responsibility, and making sure that it doesn’t turn into Point 9. It is so easy to to confuse taking responsibility and the part we play in things ourselves with taking on board everything as our issue and beating ourselves with a stick. The critical thing to remember is that we actually do have control how we chose to respond.

    • You are spot on Keith… It is easy to confuse the two but, if we listen to our inner voice and intuition, we see the difference. We always know the truth in our hearts.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

      Sending you blessings and bright love,

  2. This is such a great post. As I was growing up I often took things really personally and allowed ‘difficult’ people to really affect how I lived my life. However these days I’m able to take responsibility and control of my feelings and realise that often there is a much bigger picture. For me it’s about confidence, and growing older has allowed that to develop. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Kathryn. It is so easy to allow others to dictate how we feel about ourselves, our mood and how we relate to the world but, as you said, the more we take responsibility for our lives the less we allow others to have that power over us. We are the power in our world 🙂

      With love

  3. I love this post. I have learned that the key components to stopping other people’s troubling behaviors from troubling me are to separate the troubling behavior from the person and to take responsibility for my responses. When I raise my vibration and am on an upward spiral I am less reactive and more compassionate. I think these 18 keys capture the full essence of a positive approach to dealing with difficult behaviors.

    • Thank you so much Dana! You have really highlighted something important:- once we separate ourselves in our mind’s eye from the other person’s drama, we actually see that we are separate entities and can choose not to involve ourselves. As you so rightly said, getting that space indeed allows us to raise our vibration and feel compassion.

      With love,

  4. This advice is beautifully laid out and I would not change a word. It struck a number of chords with me because I am at mid-life and have plenty of relationships to reference. This is loving and wise advice.

    • Thank you so much Theresa. Your comment has meant so much to me and I am so happy that it struck such a great chord with you….

      Sending you blessings and love

  5. Keep in mind that, even though you may have to deal with a person’s negativity, your positive attitude and actions may inspire them to make changes for the better. Every kind word or smile makes a real difference in a negative environment.

    • This is so true TJ. When we understand that we can’t actually help that person by involving ourselves in their negativity, we re-align with our positivity, love and compassion, and then we can surround them with a higher vibration. In doing so, we inspire them and give them the loving space to grow as people themselves.

      With love,

    • Thank you so much Kevin. I feel so very humbled by these positive comments. You are so right – you get to choose what you think and how you react/feel. So empowering when you fully grasp that concept.

      With love

  6. Great advice and sorely needed at the moment.
    Can relate to your challenging childhood and the aftermath of that is no easier. Thanks for sharing this great post.

  7. Hi Jess

    I really needed to hear this today I’m currently going through a rough patch and a relationship breakdown , I find I have a lot of negative people in my life and all if these people want to change me , they tell me it’s my fault and I’m the negative person and I have become so weighed down with it all that I no longer know who I am , I feel completely lost & have no idea how to begin the journey back to finding my true authentic self



    • reflect on yourself and try genuinely to work on those areas where you find faults with yourself. sometimes you can actually be the problem. If however you find yourself okay just move on and do what pleases you.

    • Lisa thank you reaching out. Get the distance that you need to reconnect with who you really are. You are a beautiful, positive, bright being and you were meant to shine. Seek out the space you need to breathe freely and spread your wings.

      With love

    • Thank you Demetria. Absolutely – we were meant to live joyful, light, abundant lives and we play an important role in creating the space for that in our lives.

      With love

  8. #4 is my preferred method of dealing with difficult people. If people are not on my level, I’d rather just remove them from my life so that my energy can be spent with positive like-minded people.

  9. hello, thank you so much for this post. I had to go for a counseling to overcome the challenges of co parenting with a difficult person. Re building your self esteem,Loving oneself and knowing what is good and best for you is crucial.

    • Bless you Rita – I am giving you a big virtual hug. You are so right about building your self-esteem and loving yourself. Surround yourself with people that can support you and help you to feel great about yourself.

      With love

  10. thank you Jess. this challenge my mind and i hope with continuity of several readings it will break many barriers stand on my social relationship way.
    so, thanks and may God renew your mind as well as your skills.

  11. Nice article. Good points. But what if the difficult person is your only sister? My mother keeps making us do things together as a family. After many family fueds they recently lulled me into a false sense of security and I mistakenly let go of all my defences and thought I could relax around them. But I suppose 25 yrs of verbally abusing me is too hard to stop. The way they manipulated me is like a movie. How do you escape family that follow you around? I moved house… they moved house… they use other relatives to find me. I may have to move countries to escape them. Any practical suggestions on this kind of persistance??

  12. Thanks for this piece. Life is all about to be in charge and loving yourself, if not one will be held bound. Also, these tips are antidotes to live well with hard people. It is well with you, more wisdom Jessica.

  13. Point #11 should be rewritten with a more concrete explanation. I’m sure “increasing emotional vibration” has meaning in metaphysical contexts, but having a strong science background, to me it comes off as empty padlum…the kind of thing you say, “hell yeah, that’s right”, but when you really think about it you realize it has no detailed roadmap to change. Sorry, I’m all for exestential thinking, but I get very upset with all the self-agrandizing self-help on the interwebs that is high in touchy-feely and empty in pragmatic examples.


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