How to Find Compassion for People Who Really Get Under Your Skin

Ever wonder why difficult people are being difficult?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I consider myself to be a pretty compassionate person. I’ve invested in the development and cultivation of understanding and kindness I can meet the world with more resonance and harmony. But even still, every so often I encounter someone who really gets under my skin. When that happens, I remind myself of this little gem. It has helped me find compassion for even the most tremendously challenging people:

All acts are expressions of love, either as skillful statements or calls for love in disguised forms.” – Alan Cohen

Seeing the world through that lens explains a lot, doesn’t it? It explains why some people insist on playing that tired old role of martyr or victim. It explains why some people must win at all costs. It explains why kids throw tantrums. It explains overachievement. Competitiveness. Jealousy. Addictions. Social media obsessions. All just calls for love. Clumsy ones. Desperate ones. Ugly ones. But calls for love nonetheless.

The truth is, we all just want to be loved.

So let’s bring more awareness and consciousness to the ways in which we are asking for love. Notice your behaviours and look for opportunities to be a little more honest about what you’re really seeking. Seek out opportunities to express your love as a skillful statement.

And when we witness an act that is a “disguised call for love,” let’s see it for what it is. Simply recognizing that someone is feeling unloved, outcast, small, alone or disregarded instantly softens our stance and melts away the armor so that at the very least, we can meet them with more compassion. And at best, we can use the opportunity to respond to their call (however clumsy it may be), rather than reject it, thereby breaking a cycle and creating a healed dialogue.

I’m not saying you have to go and embrace every difficult person in your life. I’m just saying, remind yourself that what we are all seeking is the feeling of that four-letter word. Then, see if you can make love both your skillful statement and your graceful response.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Courtesy of J. Countess / Contributor / Getty Images

Compassion Is the Cure

by Chris Rackliffe

Compassion Is Your Compass to Happiness

by Lori Milner at Beyond the Dress

How Evolution Gave Us Deluded Minds, And Why Meditation Frees Them

by Drake Baer

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.