Dear Dr. Smith
118. How do you deal with people who are difficult, selfish and arrogant?
Dear Dr. Smith.
There are some people who are just users and abusers; they like to rub you the wrong way. How do you deal with these people who are difficult, insensitive, irrational, selfish, manipulative, or arrogant? I am getting sick and tired of them.
You are absolutely right in describing some people as “Users” and “Abusers”. There is no question that users will use you to get what they want; a job, a position, money, a favor, a friendship, a recommendation, or whatever the opportunity they are seeking. Abusers on the other hand will hurt you. They will lie, deceive, pretend, or disguise, in order to make your life miserable.
You can call these them toxic people, difficult people, irregular people, irrational people, mean people, selfish people, jealous people, stingy people, rude people, insensitive people, heartless people, cunning people, evil people, ungrateful people, conniving people, deceitful people, arrogant people, wicked people, whatever! They are just “users and abusers”. The sad part about it is that these people could be your spouse, friend, colleague, ex-spouse, lover, church member, co-worker, neighbor, or relative.
Unfortunately these “users and abusers” are like psychopaths, they have little or no conscience. After they have used you, and have gotten what they wanted, they will then turn around and try to destroy you. These are the kinds of people who bite the hands that feed them. Worst of all some of them have a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.
When dealing with “users and abusers” do not take them on nor buy into their pathology. You see, these people are the way they are before you came across their path and they will remain the same way or get worse long after you have moved on, unless a divine miracle of conversion takes place in their hearts.
It is possible that these overtly difficult people are the way they are because of childhood trauma, old wounds stored, pent-up emotions and anger, lost opportunity, jealousy, unfulfilled dreams, fear of self-disclosure, living in denial and unresolved conflicts. It is also possible, that the reason for their negative reaction towards you, is that they see in you that which they want for themselves, it’s called transference.
When dealing with “users and abusers” it is important to understand three approaches:
1. The Practical Approach
• Do not be afraid to unmask a “user or abuser”. However, do this with a Christ like spirit. If not, you will become like them.
• Do not allow “users or abusers” to get under your skin. Reduce anxiety by thinking about positive people and events. Leave them out of your thoughts.
• Be prepared at all times, do not allow yourself to be caught off guard.
• Make light of a public attack. Do not get defensive, move the subject away from yourself and talk about issues or ideas, not the person.
• Get support when dealing with “users & abusers”, do not stand alone, find others that are supportive and positive.
2. A Clinical Approach
• If you have been hurt psychologically or emotionally as a result of “users or abusers” you can be healed through positive rational thinking, for example:
• Reframing: The goal of reframing is to change negative thinking into positive thinking. When a person reframes his thought process, he can think more accurately, feel more positively, and behave more acceptable towards self and others.
• Accept Your Situation and Deal With It: Do not deny the fact that there are “users & abusers.” Just live your life the way God wants you to live it, enjoy each day that God gives you, and do not let them occupy your thoughts or steal your joy.
• Improving Self-Confidence: Love yourself and accept yourself. If hurting people have feelings of insecurity, then the negative attitude of “users and abusers” towards them can engender feelings of poor self-esteem. Confronting your irrational thinking will help you think, feel, model, and practice healthy self concept.
3. A Biblical Approach
• Step One: Matt 18: 15
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
• The text is suggesting that if you are offended by “users or abusers” take the initiative to address the issue with the person. As the text states, “If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”
• Step Two: Matt 18: 16
“But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”
• If the “user or abuser” is still nonchalant about the attempt to reconcile, go to step two. This time let it be in the company of one or two others. Oftentimes people will act differently when in the presence of others and maybe more willing to resolve an issue.
• Step Three: Matt 18:17
“And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.”
• The Church, as an administrative body becomes the final act in the process of problem solving. Some “users and abusers” have regard for the Church and would be more willing to acquiescence to its administrative authority. However, if they refuse to comply, then the church should take action or dismiss them from the body of believers.
• On the other hand these individuals might not be members of the Church. In that case it would be appropriate to follow steps one and two and step three would be to just cut them off your radar. In other words, take it to the Lord in prayer and forget about them.
I know all of this is easier said than done, but I trust that God will help you to do the right thing. Above all, pray for “Users and Abusers” they need conversion.