Dealing with Difficult People

This month, on the Conscious Adventurer, we’re talking about Internal and External Environments. One of my readers asked about tips for dealing with self-centred people. 

It’s my absolute pleasure to have this guest post by Simone Wittmann about this topic. Simone is the creator of and provides simple but effective fitness, health and lifestyle tips to help you live a happier, healthier and more balanced life. She’s also a real kitchen girl and likes to share new vegetarian and vegan recipes with you. As a psychology student, she’s all about developing self-love, understanding other and helping you become the best version of yourself. If you’re curious, check out her blog and don’t forget to download her free, printable goal-setting guide!

I guess all of you know people who always make you feel negative and unmotivated, even if you are just talking to them about the weather. That person doesn’t necessarily have to be your boss, sometimes even the people that are close to you, your friends or family members can be one of them. You’re in a great mood, happy, positive and motivated and the moment you talk to them, you suddenly feel like something is weighing you down and making you feel uncomfortable. Those people can change your mood within a minute, am I right?!

I’ve met a lot of those people over the last few years, and I have finally found a way, how to deal with those negative, difficult people and what you can do to stay happy and positive!

Understand why they are being the way they are. Some reasons could include:

  • Depression – Everything is going wrong, you’re failing at everything, thoughts rapidly become negative, and coupled with stress, you can become extremely negative, and destructive.
  • Limited beliefs, pessimists – This and that won’t work, you don’t even need to try it.
  • Victim role – “It never worked for me”; They will always think just because they didn’t achieve xyz, you can’t be successful.
  • Close minded people – certain beliefs -They think women have to stay at home and look after the kids, no sex before marriage – they want you to be/act “the way you are supposed” to be/act and they don’t accept your behaviour.
  • Drama – Some people just like to have dramatic lives.
  1. Don’t just get rid of them

It’s so easy to say, ‘just get rid of them, surround yourself with positive people”, and to be honest, that is great advice, when you talk about ‘friends’ or people that you don’t need to have in your life. We all have friends – and ”friends”. Of course, you can choose not to spend your precious time with the people who make you feel unmotivated and uncomfortable. But often you can’t choose if you want to be surrounded by those people, your boss or co-workers, for example – plus, there are always going to be people who comment about you and getting rid of all of them would be impossible.

  1. See it as an opportunity to develope your character

Use that negative energy and ask yourself these following questions.

Am I in command of my emotions?

Can I stay focused and positive?

Am I focusing on what’s wrong with this person?

Is that person’s behaviour affecting my emotions?

By focusing on the negative aspects, you let them win. Try and challenge yourself to work on your character.

  1. Empathize

Whenever you are dealing with difficult people, try and remind yourself that you’ve been rude to other people too. Even if we are trying really hard to be kind, loving souls, we all have been rude. It’s normal that we’re in a bad mood sometimes and that we act in a way that we normally wouldn’t. Wonder what happened! You don’t know their struggles and stories. Be understanding and supportive, you never know what’s going on in their lives. Learn to use it as something that helps you improve your people skills.

  1. Ignore all the negative comments
    When someone is talking to you in a rude way, give a simple, neutral “I see” or “Ok” reply. Don’t let it get to you! Don’t let them win! On the other hand, when the person is being positive, reply in a positive and enthusiastic way. That way you show them, that a negative attitude won’t impress you, but a positive attitude is going to be rewarded.

A big thank you to Kumari for giving me the opportunity to blog here, I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, feel free to check out my blog for more.

My hugest thanks to the wonderful Simone for this guest blog post. What strategies do you apply when dealing with difficult people? How do you ignore negative comments? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. 


*Authors opinions are their own and do not reflect on any organisations or affiliations.




Juggling Curve Balls

It’s tricky being the sole income earner while also trying to have Bear in minimum daycare and Ant at home while he breastfeeds so frequently. I’ve taken a leap and hired a lovely nanny to be with us some of the time to help me do some work. It’s a leap because, as those of you who are self-employed and with very young babies know, it’s hard to predict income.

I was very grateful to have our nanny with us while I recorded last week’s show. Bear was unexpectedly with us because he was sick. He wanted to be in the studio though and that’s why you can hear his voice in the background. at one point he wanted to take his shoes off (and I had a little conversation with him). I didn’t edit this out because this is how life is at the moment and if parents/breastfeeding mothers are to be visible in professional settings, then we have to accept that they will be with their children! Although I pre-record, I try to record all of my show at once, as  if we were on air. It does make it tricky though…At one point, Bear was on my lap, trying on my headphones as I recorded the meditation. At another point, he moved my timer button so I wasn’t sure how long Lucas Deschamps of NaturAlley and I had been talking for! Lucas coped like a champ though and gave a magnificent interview. I learnt so much! Do you know, for example, that inorganic celery may actually be toxic?

Now, speaking of juggling, my guest on today’s show can literally (and figuratively) juggle!!  Very excited that Nicola Brown, of NIBL (Nature’s Ingredients Brought to Life) is on my show today. Listen online:

The Mental Hooks that Snag our Productivity

The Mental Hooks that Snag our Productivity


OpenClipartVectors via Pixabay

This week, on my first radio show, my guest, Lucas Deschamps talked about doing research when it came to food and what we are eating. I loved Lucas’s comment “Don’t just eat something because it sounds good”. I commented that the advice about keeping an open mind and doing research sounded like what we try and do when we are mindful – are become curious scientists in our experiences. We step back rather than just accepting what our mind tells us.

So, having said that, and with #FocussedFriday in mind, I thought I’d suggest stepping back and noticing thoughts – mental hooks – that might get in the way of us doing the things that are most important to us. These are, I suggest, thoughts that trip us up and have us watching several episodes of Buffy (*cough* – you know who you are) rather than doing what might be more important.

Do any of these sound familiar or trip you up?

  • I’ll do that later – a common hook. My suggestion is to pin a time to it or discard it as a task. One productivity tip I read this week was about discarding one thing from your to do list before even doing it.
  • I’ll do that when I feel….(better, clearer, more sorted, etc) – tricky. Does that really need to happen? I see this in students who are avoiding writing research up because perfectionist thoughts intervene and the associated thought is unless I’m completely confident/sorted/organised, there is no point starting. My suggestion is to set a timer and do a burst of focussed activity on part of it.
  • It will just take 5 minutes – somehow, distraction tasks never take just five minutes. It’s also easy to get caught up in other people’s agendas.
  • There’s no point starting it right now…I’ll just….(check my email, go and have lunch, walk the dog, do…) – start small.
  • This is too hard/complicated/big– Things may seem very big and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Notice your reaction and perhaps your urge to avoid. Deep breath. Is it important to do this task? Can you ask for help, search for an answer, delegate it, or break it up into smaller tasks?

Did any of these mental hooks ring true for you? Any other hooks that you hear?

I have a workshop coming up in Dunedin where I’ll be talking about those mental hooks that keep overthinking in place. 

When Extensive Discussion is Bad

When Extensive Discussion is Bad


Image by Stevebidmead via Pixabay

Co-rumination, a more recent term, suggested by Amanda Rose, refers to speculating, re-hashing, dwelling, and extensive discussion of problems with someone (typically a friend). It’s essential overthinking, except that it’s done with company.

Much of the research about this important construct has been done with young women. In adolescent girls, co-rumination is associated with increased depressive symptoms and other internalising problems. In this same study, adolescents are more likely to co-ruminate when in romantic relationships but being in a relationship AND co-ruminating makes depressive symptoms more likely. Co-ruminating also increases cortisol (an indicator of stress). In an interesting experiment, researchers found that c-ruminating with one’s best friend (speculating about the causes, dwelling on things, brooding, re-hashing) led to feeling closer to one’s friend, but also increased depressive symptoms and cortisol.

When dealing with overthinking, in my clinical experience, there is a vital balance between validating our emotional experience as well as not going down the brooding path. This business of validating is utterly crucial and I’ve written about it in another post. Our inner critic so frequently steps in. In my Overcoming Overthinking CD (and workshop), there are exercises for shrinking that critic and soothing the accompanying small, vulnerable part of ourselves.

What type of thinking do you do most often?

What type of thinking do you do most often?


Grateful thanks to Geralt for the image, via Pixabay

How frequently do you:

(1) try to push (emotional) thoughts aside, either by doing something that distracts you mentally or physically?

(2) feel overwhelmed by the speed at which thoughts are going through your mind?

(3) notice your mind wandering off and daydreaming?

(4) feel your way of managing your thoughts is efficient?

(5) deal efficiently with problems that arise?

(6) go back over conversations, replaying them and trying to work out how they could have gone differently?

(7) use your mind as a mental jotter-pad and use it to hold information?

(8) see thoughts as passing phenomena that you don’t necessarily have to get caught up in?

These are just a handful of questions to get you thinking about your thinking (otherwise known as meta-cognition).  Most of us take our default way of thinking for granted – it’s how we’ve always done things and it can seem surprising that there might even be another way of thinking. I’m not talking about the content of our thinking necessarily, but the style or manner in which we are thinking. Some ways of thinking (e.g. overthinking, and thought suppression) may not serve us well and may set us up to not only feel worse, but also solve problems less well, feel less motivated, and sap our confidence.

In this video (one of a series of five), I briefly talk about types of thinking. When we are trying to change from a habitual type of thinking that no longer serves us (e.g., overthinking or avoidance), it’s helpful to know other types of thinking exist.

In my CD “Overcoming Overthinking”, I have a guided exercise to help shift into Problem-Solving, rather than overthinking. I also have an exercise for shifting from Overthinking into Reflection. It’s useful to listen to the exercises a few times to learn the strategy and then, when you notice that you are overthinking, try listening to either track to shift into a different way of thinking.

In my upcoming workshops (a one hour intro or a half day version), I will be talking about overthinking, the 4 S’s that keep us locked into overthinking, and how to KICK overthinking.

Stretch like a Cat – Day 5 of 7 day Challenge

Stretch like a Cat – Day 5 of 7 day Challenge

I woke up and was tempted to forgo my waking mindfulness practice that I have been trialling. I noticed the urge + thoughts and did my short practice. Doing so enabled me to become aware of an underlying feeling of irritability. Labelling the feeling helped. I also tried to localise where I felt it in my body and to sit with it. This is a variation of the Stretch like a Cat exercise I describe below. It really helped me approach the day differently.

Day 5: “Stretch like a Cat” (just over 4 minutes)

I recorded this for the album “Stretch like a Cat” for younger people. I find, however, that older people like it too! I suggest trying this when you wake, to become present to physical sensations in your body. Notice where you are storing tension and become more present to your body.

Stretch like a cat 3

The exercises during this challenge come from my album Quick Mindful Moments for Busy People” which  has exercises from previous albums and upcoming ones. You can see album notes and here brief clips of this album here, on CDBaby and then obtain this album for free if you subscribe to my newsletter

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