We’ve all been there. There’s that co-worker who won’t stop whining about how terrible his perfect life is or that person in your church congregation who seems to have it out for you. Some people just get under your skin and it’s too much to handle. Here are some helpful steps you can take to overcome your aversion to this person, and maybe even develop love for them. Warning: These aren’t going to be easy to do (or hear for that matter).
See the challenge as an opportunity
If we weren’t faced with people who are hard to love, it would be hard to ever learn to really love. We tend to love people because of what they do for us. Maybe they make us feel good about ourselves or they give us good advice; but real love is about loving people who have nothing to give you. When you can love someone from whom you gain nothing, you are gaining the ability to truly love.
Get over yourself
Religious leader Cheryl Esplin used the differences between mirrors and windows to explain how we interact with people. If you were to put a mirror between yourself and the person you are talking to, your conversation wouldn’t be productive. However, by placing a window between you, you are able to focus on that person better. Oftentimes, although we are talking to someone else, we are so focused on our own feelings and insecurities that we are unable to have a worthwhile conversation with the other person.
Actually see them
I don’t believe that any soul we interact with on a daily basis is absolutely rotten. This isn’t to say they don’t have behaviors that are inappropriate or unkind; but I am confident that each soul has goodness in it. Sometimes you don’t know them well enough to see their good qualities, and sometimes you don’t know them well enough to understand what causes them to act in a certain way. But if we truly knew every person, we would see them as someone to be loved.
Use your talents and skills
You may not love this person, but you may love longboarding. Go out for a spin on the boards with them. Doing something that makes you happy can make you happy to be with them. Furthermore, your talents and skills may provide a great opportunity to teach this person something they want to learn. Believe it or not, teaching something to someone else fosters love for that person.
Benjamin Franklin said, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” This idea that someone who does you a favor is more likely to do you another is referred to by psychologists as the “Benjamin Franklin Effect.” The idea is that people feel more favorably toward people they serve. While many people use this tactic to become more likable themselves, you can use it in reverse to improve your feelings toward that person that drives you up a wall. By serving them, you will feel more love for them.
Ask for help
Sometimes we are unable to overcome our struggles with a person we can’t stand on our own. It’s a great idea to recruit some help. Genuinely ask people you are close to to help you stop gossiping about the things this person does, or ask someone who knows them to tell you what that person’s good qualities are. Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to ask for God’s help. He knows this person and loves them. He will teach you to love them too if you ask for His help.