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Compassion for Difficult People

Compassion for Difficult People
There’s a lot of drama in dealing with a difficult person. There’s also a lot of trauma to the back of that difficulty.

One of the most difficult people to handle is yourself.

Compassion is an awareness that someone else is suffering, a caring for that person, and a desire to reduce suffering in the world. We are energized by anger. We can also be energized by compassion.

You have to increase your empathy and compassion. It isn’t necessary to develop compassion for yourself before caring more for others. In fact, you may have an easier time being kind to yourself after you’ve had success with kindness for others.

How to Be More Compassionate

  • Don’t suppress your thoughts. Suppressing thoughts makes it tougher to take the edge off the distress you’re feeling. Accept it and create the space to decide how you want to respond to the distress. Label the emotions when you discover them.
  • Recognize you can be difficult. Your friend wants to be free from suffering. You don’t have to know the source of the suffering but you do need to recognize your friend is also human. Use your humanitarian skills in interactions because you’d like others to treat you the same way.
  • Be curious. What are the opportunities in this situation? Learn more about the cause of suffering to help someone else solve a problem.
  • Listen to your body. Notice what you’re sensing. You have the freedom to accept what’s happening. You can also transform it into something else. Decide how to give yourself a different experience with your emotions.
  • Practice. Remind yourself to be compassionate. Catch yourself when you’re critical or angry. Notice what makes you feel better.
Listen as Dr. Kelly McGonigal joins Dr. Pamela Peeke to share tips on becoming more compassionate.


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Featured Speaker:
Kelly McGonigal, PhD
Dr. Kelly McGonigalDr. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. She is the author of several books, including the The Willpower Instinct, The Science of Compassion, and The Upside of Stress. Through the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism, she co-founded the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training, which helps individuals deepen empathy and compassion. You also might know her from her TED talk, "How to Make Stress Your Friend," which is one of the 20 Most Viewed TED talks of all time.