Prickly People: If You Can’t Stand Them; Understand Them

love, forgiveness, and truthMany years ago, during a personal growth workshop, I participated in an experiential exercise. The facilitator of the group asked members to pair off with another person. To my horror, I was stuck with a woman who I considered the least desirable participant. Unkempt and reeking of tobacco and body odors, she related in an erratic, prickly way.

I had hoped for a partner who was capable of sharing on a deep, personal level, not someone who irritated me and the others in the group. Begrudgingly, I listened to the facilitator issue instructions: face your partner, look into the eyes, and, without talking, see each other.

I nervously glanced around the room at the other pairs, wishing I was with someone else. I reluctantly stared at the grizzled woman in front of me. Then it happened. Her brown eyes penetrated mine. My blue eyes peered deep into hers. Two powerful magnets locked our gaze. A door to her soul fell open; I tumbled inward – to her very Essence. Spirit touched my heart.

My previous judgments lifted like a fog dissolving in sunlight. Tears fell from her eyes; compassion filled my heart. Tears sprinkled down my cheeks and I connected with her – soul to soul. We hugged each other as if we had found a long, lost friend.

That profound experience taught me a life-changing lesson. Whenever I encounter difficult or prickly people, I have limited vision for I only see their outer shells, not their True Selves. Those individuals become my teachers and remind me to practice three powerful forces: love, forgiveness, and truth.

Love moves me to understand and accept others. It doesn’t mean I have to accept their behaviors, but I can appreciate that they have their own, unique spiritual path. If I look behind their masks, I can find their Essence which is love.

Forgiveness frees me from the tyranny of judgment. I can then release unwanted parts of myself that I projected onto others. When I let go of expectations and control, and even forgive myself for judging, I receive unexpected gifts and amazing grace.

Truth asks me to own my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so I can choose how I act. As Wayne Dyer says, “How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” When I acknowledge my discomfort, I can open up a dialogue with someone who triggers my reactions. That can lead to greater connection and intimacy with myself and others. When I act truthfully, I create an atmosphere for authentic relating.

So if you ever find yourself in a situation with a prickly person, someone who you can’t stand, try to see them through the eyes of love, forgiveness, and truth. With a deeper understanding, you can shift feelings of separateness into Oneness.

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