Becoming a Perpetual Student and Allowing Difficult People and Challenging Situations to Be Your Teacher

By Dr. Joe Rubino

While the vast majority of people view the daily challenges that life throws across our paths as inconvenient at best and a real nuisance that we should attempt to avoid at nearly all costs at worst, there is another possible perspective we might adopt to maximize our personal power. Rather than avoid these unpleasant and disruptive challenges, we can instead embrace them as an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and our ability to deal effectively with the trials they pose.

When things do not go our way, rather than blame someone or become resigned to seeing the circumstances as yet more evidence demonstrating our bad luck or deficiency in character, we might instead look for ways that we can learn and grow from the experience. If we take on the perspective that each challenge is sent our way with a gift of wisdom attached to it, we can transform how we see and respond to each episode. How we react to difficult situations will depend upon how we see our role in having brought them about. We can decide to be a victim, at the mercy of each difficulty or we can look for what part we may have played to contribute to it in some way.
Now, I am not suggesting that we blame ourselves or find fault with our performance as those lacking high self-esteem might be prone to do. Instead, I am proposing that we look at the stressful situation to see if we might have handled it differently had we realized some insight we now were able to glean by studying the event. By looking for possible contributory factors that resulted in having the situation turn out as it did, we can learn from our inquiry and act differently in the future.

This possibility to impact our experience is particularly rich when it comes to interacting with difficult people. We can shun the people we hold as having little or nothing of value to teach us, or we can hold them as a precious resource being sent our way to support our personal development. The more difficult the personalities, the more effective we will need to become in dealing powerfully with them and the more we have the potential to learn about ourselves and our ability to impact a result.

The key to interacting effectively with those we consider to be challenging people is to create the space for them to be the unique, imperfect individuals that they are. This means accepting their quirky behavior, at times difficult interpretations, irritating habits, and less than effective communication skills. Rather than hoping to change them, reprimand them, or try to fix them, it is more productive to accept what you might consider to be their faults and allow them the ability to be who they are. When you cease to oppose who they are, they will, in turn, no longer have to defend themselves or try to avoid being dominated by you. They will be less likely to find fault with you and less likely to need to exert control over you. With the generous allowance you’ve created for their humanity, you can now look at how you might be most effective in influencing them so that life works for both of you.

As we’ve discussed before, the secret to effectively interacting with people who would normally present us with a challenge is to manage our emotional state. Rather than react to what they say and do and thereby give away our personal power, we have the ability to monitor what would have been our typical emotional responses and act intentionally instead, without the driving emotion of anger, sadness, fear, or any other negative force that breeds upset and makes effectual communication unlikely.

When we give up our need to dominate a situation, control the other person, or be right about something, we gain the ability to interact powerfully and without a damaging reaction fuelled by negative emotions.

Allowing Difficult People and Challenging Situations to Be Your Teacher

1. As you go about your day, identify each challenging event to reflect upon how you might deal with the situation most effectively.

2. Practice allowing others to have the space to be who they are, complete with all their faults and shortcomings, and without the need to change or fix them. How does doing so influence your relationship with someone you would consider to be a difficult person?

3. For each problematic situation you find yourself in, record in your journal how you may have contributed to the difficulty by your action or inaction. What could you do differently next time?

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Joe Rubino is an internationally acclaimed personal development trainer, a life-changing success coach and best selling author of 9 books and 2 Audio sets on topics ranging from how to restore self-esteem, achieve business success, maximize joy and fulfillment in life and productivity in business. An acclaimed speaker and course leader, he is known for his groundbreaking work in personal and leadership development, building effective teams, enhancing listening and communication skills, life and business coaching and optimal life planning.
His best selling books and audio programs are available in 19 languages and in 48 countries. These include:
• The Success Code: 29 Principles for Achieving Maximum Abundance, Success, Charisma, and Personal Power in Your Life
• The Success Code, Book II: More Authentic Power Principles for Creating Your Dream Life
• The Magic Lantern: A Fable about Leadership, Personal Excellence, and Empowerment
• The Legend of the Light-Bearers: A Fable about Personal Reinvention and Global Transformation
• The Self-Esteem Book: The Ultimate Guide to Boost the Most Underrated Ingredient for Success and Happiness in Life. Visit for more information!
• Secrets of Building a Million Dollar Network Marketing Organization from a Guy Who’s Been There, Done That and Shows You How You Can Do It Too
• The 7-Step System to Building a $1,000,000 Network Marketing Organization: How to Achieve Financial Freedom through Network Marketing
• The Ultimate Guide to Network Marketing: 37 Top Network Marketing Income Earners Share Their Most Preciously Guarded Secrets to Building Extreme Wealth
• 10 Weeks to Network Marketing Success – CD Album plus Workbook
• Secret #1 – Self-Motivation Audible and Subliminal Affirmation CD Set
• 15 Secrets Every Network Marketer Must Know

Dr Rubino is the CEO of The Center for Personal Reinvention, Http://, an organization committed to the personal excellence and empowerment of all people. He has impacted the lives of more than 1 million people through self-esteem work, personal and group coaching, and personal and leadership development. Dr. Rubino was featured on the cover of Success Magazine and in their cover story, “We Create Millionaires” for his ability to impact people’s lives. He is a certified success coach in life planning technology and the co-developer of the life-changing course, Conversations for Success, a program that provides participants with the tools to maximize their self-esteem, productivity and personal effectiveness with others. His vision is to personally impact the lives of twenty million people to be their best and to shift the paradigm around resignation - that is, that anyone can affect positive change in their own lives and in the lives of others - if they believe they can.
Dr. Joe offers powerful personal coaching to support business success and life fulfillment. To contact him, call 888-821-3135 or email . Learn more about his life-changing work in championing people to restore their self-esteem at and receive the free insightful audio program “7 Steps to Soaring Self-Esteem” and a 1 year subscription to “The Success Achievers’ Club”…a $129 Value!

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