Master Teachers

yoda & Luke

All of us get the opportunity to deal with difficult people. Whether they be managers at work, family members or even neighbors, we are not immune from having to interact with people that are so different than us that they rub us the wrong way and make it difficult to even be around.

One of the things that I’ve learned is that these people can be ‘master teachers’ for us. We are told in an number of scriptures to love our enemies. It’s easy to love those who love us, but the real opportunity for growth in love comes from learning to love those who hate us, or trigger us. Here are a few suggestions when finding yourself in the company of ‘difficult’ people:

  • Do not judge or label– Everyone is walking their individual path, with their own trials, challenges and experiences. We know a very small portion of what the other person has gone through, or what makes them act the way they act. Just because they don’t think the same way that you do does not make their decisions wrong. Allow the other person to grow and develop at their own speed and in their own way
  • Do not compare– Comparison is always a dangerous activity. There is always somebody better and worse off. Also, due to where they are on their path, they are learning and growing at their own pace. Allow them to do so.
  • Ask yourself “what can I learn from this person?”– We are all teachers and we are all students. With each encounter with everyone we meet, we should ask ourselves what we can learn from each other. Even a blooming flower has something to teach us.
  • Practice compassionate love and empathy– Since we don’t understand the path and experiences that others have had, be patient and compassionate with what you consider a shortcoming or challenge in another person. Our way is not the ‘right’ way. Honor others for the experiences they have gone through and the choices they are making, based on those experiences.
  • It’s not about you– Whenever you encounter a difficult person and they say things to you, or about you, that may be difficult, remember that it’s not a reflection on you, but on them. You can only get upset if you allow yourself to. 
  • Sometimes, we are the Master Teachers for others– Whenever there is a conflict, it is usually because two people have two differing opinions. Who’s to say that ours is right and theirs is wrong, or that there even is a right and wrong? Instead of pointing our fingers at the other person about how difficult they are, remember that we are as difficult as we choose to be.

As we change our perspectives, coming from a place of compassionate love, and realize that one opinion is not greater than another, we are able to see that the most difficult of people and circumstances can be our master teachers.