Want to Cultivate Love? Be Around Challenging People Once in A While.
By Maryrose Mitchell
We can’t reach our fullest potential if we only hang around like-minded people. While spending our time with those who are positive and kind can nurture and reinforce our joyful nature, it’s also important to have contact with those who struggle to be good-natured. Let’s face it, mean, grumpy, people aren’t easy to be around, but it’s beneficial for us to be around them from time to time, so we can really go deeper and tap into universal love.
It’s not too difficult to be nice to nice people. Most of us can do that pretty easily. The real challenge is to be kind to those who have displeasing personalities. When we can pull it off without being fake or doing it out of obligation we are cultivating love.
If we avoid every person who is hard to be around, then we are not digging deep enough. I’m not suggesting that we expose ourselves to harmful situations or people who could hurt us, but we all know people who are demanding, but essentially harmless. We like to avoid them for obvious reasons. However, if we can set firm boundaries and hold people accountable while still being compassionate and accepting, then we are maximizing love.
We often prefer to take the easy road and only spend time around people who are similar to us.
How can being around displeasing people make us more loving? They give us opportunities to find similarities even when we appear to be very different. When we acknowledge some degree of sameness rather than focusing on differences, we find threads of connectedness and these threads unite us. If we can admit that we too have issues and that this is one way we are connected, this vulnerability can open our hearts wider. It can also bring comfort to those who are hurting.
We all have fear which is displayed in various ways and degrees in our lives. We all have negative and positive qualities. When we recognize the bond we have with others, we realize that the way we treat others is the way we treat ourselves and vice versa.
When we offer goodwill and grace towards others there is a mutual benefit.
Difficult people can challenge us to ask tough questions like, How can I be more loving when I don’t really like him or her? How can I really be genuinely compassionate and understanding with this person?
Understand that even if it seems like some people don’t care about being loved, they do. Sometimes people put up walls and barriers to protect themselves because they have been hurt and they don’t want to be hurt again. They are afraid of being vulnerable, so they put up defenses. They criticize and demean other people so they can feel better about themselves. They may try to prove they are good because they don’t really believe it.
They have to point out flaws in others and label them bad, so they can feel good. Sometimes they are threatened by those who seem happy because deep down they want the contentment they see in others. They are frustrated and sad that they don’t have such joy and they don’t know how to access it.
Sometimes they alienate others because deep inside they don’t believe they are worthy of love. If we are to be truly compassionate, we see that there is a person underneath the behaviors who wants to be accepted.
To accept everyone just as they are without needing them to be any different is to be truly loving. Can you do that? If we can understand that all humans want to be understood and loved, even when they seem to reject it, then we are really expanding our capacity to love. The winner is everybody. If you feel compelled to take action because you believe someone is damaging you, another person or the environment, you can act with gusto and intention while not taking anything personally. Stick to the issue.
The next time you write someone off as being arrogant, difficult, or entitled, see if you can look deeper. Understand that this person is behaving this way because they are suffering within. Wouldn’t we all be more loving if we could? Can you give them the acceptance they don’t think they deserve? We are all unskilled at times and cause our own suffering and suffering in others.
Do you really need to make your opposing views known or does this just reinforce your own ego and keep you separate? What do you hope to achieve? To change them? Our purpose is not to change other people. When someone is ready they shift. How hard is it to just listen and say, “I understand how you can see things that way.” Most people just want to be heard. Compassionate listening doesn’t mean agreeing. It’s just an outstretched hand.
We don’t have to absorb negativity, but we also don’t have to judge others and add to their suffering. We can be with them compassionately and even say, “I hear you and I care about you.” Honestly, we don’t have to say much. Sometimes we love others, but it’s a good decision not to be around them. We can send love from a distance in prayer and meditation if we can’t be in their physical presence.
People who carry around strong negativity or pain body provide opportunities for us to dig deeper into the well of compassion. When we can see the connection we have with all kinds of people, we positively impact the world by increasing loving kindness and understanding.
It’s humbling learning things about myself that I didn’t want to know and then there was no unseeing them. The raw truth transforms. I became a mindfulness meditation instructor and I’m loving this road. I know we are all connected. This means how we treat ourselves is the way we treat others, so if we love ourselves with all of our flaws, we also love others. I have a website that I created for fun. Feel free to visit: