Dealing With Difficult People During Anxiety

Whilst it would be lovely if we could avoid all of the people who we perceive to make us uncomfortable, that’s not reality. Sooner or later, we all bump into people like that.

Wishing that we never bump into difficult people is a pipe dream and a waste of time because it just makes us waste a lot of energy.

So, whilst we can’t always stop ourselves from being around difficult people, here’s what’s helped me deal with difficult people on my journey to emotional wellness from years of personal experience.

Don’t take things personal

It’s easy to react negatively when we’re anxious because we’re in a sensitised state so it’s perfectly normal to overreact.

What you have to understand is that people who talk nasty things about us are doing so because they are, most likely, in some form of emotional pain themselves. People generally don’t try to make other people’s lives hell for the fun of it. There’s usually always a reason for it.

It’s really easy to play the victim when you are being treated unfairly by other’s. This is usually very common for someone who doesn’t even have an anxiety disorder, so you know what it’s like when suffering from anxiety.

Victim to victimless

You’re not the victim here. They are. Whilst it’s true that we’re the victim of their torment/verbal abuse, we are not the true victim. Something is obviously going on in their lives which is causing them to feel the way they do and they are projecting that negative energy and pain onto us.

So, although we cannot stop other people from being toxic to us, we can protect our energy from their toxicity. It’s also very likely that you will get into a defensive (anxious) state in these situations because your anxiety is trying to keep you safe. Don’t worry about feeling anxious because it’s perfectly appropriate to do so under these circumstances. Your anxiety/self defensiveness will pass when you reclaim your power.

Here are a few ways which you can protect yourself when dealing with an energy vampire.

1) Remember to remind yourself of the truth – they are the problem, not you.

You have absolutely nothing to worry about because you are fine. They’re the ones who need help. Feel pity for them.

Don’t think that there must be something wrong with you because that is a lie you’re telling yourself. You are perfectly fine and were perfectly fine before they came into your existence.

Yeah, fair enough, you’re probably anxious (most people are who read my posts) but you didn’t deserve to be treated like that. None of us do. This is why we have to understand that we’re not the victims.

It’s all too easy to think that it must be us because we are suffering from anxiety and you know how vulnerable it makes us feel. But, it is just a manifestation of their own emotional pain projected onto us.

Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, have sympathy for them. It’s all about how we look at things and stepping outside of the victim mentality will help you reclaim your power.

2) Don’t fight back against them because this is what gives them more power.

People who bring other’s down get their energy from it. They try to suck the life out of us. This is why they can be known as energy vampires.

When I was suffering from anxiety, I would always retaliate to what other’s said. This didn’t help me or the situation. It was a losing game because I was highly anxious, felt extremely vulnerable and would just feed their inner beast to project more of their feelings onto me.

Eventually, after waking up to my own reactions, I started to do the opposite of what I used to do. I would no longer throw them any more food which they needed to replenish their “inner demons”. Whilst, I would still feel emotionally threatened by what they said, I wouldn’t show them this.

When someone see’s that you’re really affected, they know that they can continue to push your buttons so to speak

What you also have to understand is that you’re not weak and vulnerable. Although it feels this way in the moment, it’s not true. Remember, the anxious mind is constantly scanning for danger to keep us safe, so it’s working in our favour. It’s on our side.

When we react negatively to what someone says or does, it’s because our brain is telling us there’s potential danger. It’s really a gift, not a curse.

Whilst how they’re treating us might not be very pleasant, it’s certainly not a danger to our existence. Any discomfort we feel due to our negative reaction to what someone says about us is really just believing that what they’re saying is true.

Just because they say something, doesn’t mean it is an accurate representation of who we are. It’s all coming from their own perspective. So, everything that they think and say about us is really just a reflection of their own minds. It has absolutely nothing to do with us.

Another reason why we react so emotionally strongly to an insult or whatever is because we’re taking the content of their words seriously.

People who put other’s down do so because it makes them feel more powerful, more adequate. This is a sign that the person has low self-esteem. Someone with high self-esteem wouldn’t be putting other’s down.

They wouldn’t need to do that in order to feel more “powerful”. They naturally lift other’s up because they feel good and confident about themselves.

Depending on who the person is, we can just take the steps to avoid them as much as we can. If we’re letting someone we rarely know get on our nerves, then we can ask ourselves this question, Is what they’re saying really going to matter to my life in a years time?

Asking this question and really thinking about it will put things into perspective. No, it’s probably not going to matter, so it’s really not worth giving our power away to because we’re better than that.

Receiving abuse from another person only serves to tell them exactly what kind of person they are. It tells us nothing about who we are.

Honestly, it’s just not worth reacting to them. When we get angry or show our defensiveness by arguing back, we are just feeding the negative situation and giving the person more fuel to renew their toxicity.

So, when they say something which is designed to upset you, don’t answer back. Starve the food they need which is in our retaliation. This is how they know they’ve gotten under our skin. If you can, switch off your emotions and remain detached.

3) Forgive them for they do not know

Most people we deal with in the world who we perceive to be difficult or hard work are not really conscious of their behaviours and actions. Otherwise, unless this person was genuinely evil, then they are asleep to their actions and words.

No person seeks out to make other’s lives a living hell unless they’re evil. So, most of the time, these people are making us feel uncomfortable are asleep to their words and behaviours.

“Forgive them for they do not know” means that people are unconscious so they don’t really know what they’re doing.

If they do know and they’re doing it deliberately to make our lives a living hell, then we need to avoid them as soon as possible. It should be our intention to get out of their presence as quickly as possible.

No one should have to feel guilty for cutting someone who is extremely toxic out of their lives. At the end of the day, protecting our emotional wellness is the most important thing.

When we react with an autonomic anxious response, all we need to do is not fear and resist that autonomic response. This is what Claire Weekes called the second fear which is the anxiety created through fearing our autonomic response.

Unfortunately, if we’re still pretty sensitised then our autonomic response to difficult people will be fearful one because our brains are always scanning for danger.

But, just like we can get into the habit of not reacting with resistance and fear to our anxiety itself, we can learn to do the same thing with people. This is why acceptance is so important.

It’s not just essential for recovering from anxiety, but it’s a life skill which we can take around with us wherever we go. It becomes a part of us and how we live, especially when it comes to dealing with unhelpful people.

Whilst we can’t stop ourselves from feeling the fear of an automatic response, we can learn to not fear that automatic response of fear. Again, this is one of the keys to breaking out of the anxiety cycle. it’s our second fear which Claire Weekes talked about that fuels the fire of anxiety.

Don’t feel guilty or bad if you feel anxiety when you’re in the presence of a difficult person. It’s appropriate to feel the way you do, so just understand why you’re feeling this way and allow the feelings to wash over you – they can’t hurt you.

4) Remove yourself from them as soon as you can

Probably the most effective advice of all is to just remove yourself from that person who seems to be difficult. This is what will ultimately bring your anxiety levels down.

However, when you’re not in a position to just walk away, then the other steps should be enough to help you get through it. Always remember, that their negative behaviour is a reflection of them, not a reflection of who we are.

I hope the advice in this post can serve you well when you’re dealing with energy vampires/difficult people.

If you have any advice that has worked for you when dealing with difficult people, please share.

If you have any questions concerning this article, feel free to reach out

Until next time.

Lawrence Gregory

Hi I'm Lawrence. I write about what has helped me heal/recover from high anxiety and panic attacks. Everything I share here comes from personal experience and what I've learnt from others. I write with honesty and with readers in mind, so you'll never see me share something I haven't had any experience with myself.

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