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Positive Attitude – Keeping Compassion in Your Heart When Dealing with a Challenging Personality


“See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

How do we hang on to our genuine sense of caring and compassion toward someone, when we perceive some of their deeds and statements as being quite unkind? We all face this scenario with people in our lives. And I am not talking about distant friends or acquaintances, who will fade out of our life if the unkindness and differences become too pronounced. I am referring to people who are fixtures in our lives and who we basically love and care about.

Not everyone sees things our way — it would not be a good thing if we were all clones of each other. Life is exciting and dynamic because of all the varied personalities in our lives.

However, sometimes we need someone to be a little more tolerant and supportive of us. For instance, in my own life, as an animal lover and occasional rescuer, I am trying to understand someone who is quite the opposite of that. Now it’s one thing to keep discordant thoughts (ones that you know might be offensive to a person you are conversing with) to yourself. But it’s another to come out with them in a context in which there is no ambiguity about them being of the tactless nature.

So I am trying to rationalize some of these comments over time (they are only occasional, not constant) and certainly focus on the brighter spots of this individual’s personality. But when these uncalled-for comments just spout forward, it is disturbing to me. Yet I believe it is essential to be able to brush my own feelings of discord aside, as it is healthier emotionally. But it’s not always easy to do.

As a Reiki practitioner, my initial reaction is to send love and light to this person, envisioning that it is going straight to their heart center.

However, you don’t have to be a Reiki practitioner to work with this imagery. You can surround this person with the light of compassion, however you may be able to imagine it. Visualize that a radiant cord of compassion flows from your own heart to the heart of the other person. This can be powerful healing imagery. It sure beats the opposite of becoming antagonistic or down on a particular person.

As I began to focus on sending positive energy to this person, I genuinely felt like I want to take the next step. My goal is to try to awaken the innate sense of compassion, caring and understanding that I believe lies within the heart of that individual. I truly feel we are all born with the ability to be compassionate. But it depends on many other factors — upbringing, family values, social interaction and more as to how much that sense develops over time.

Another suggestion for diffusing any immediate discord while an incident is still fresh and painful, is to make a mental list of the most obvious positive qualities of this person. Maybe he made a tactless statement, but is diligent and has a great work ethic and he is always punctual for events. He just needs to perhaps do some further inner work, or become a little more awakened to the compassionate side of life.

Do you have anyone who is close to you that presents a challenge in this way? How do you deal that individual? Are you able to let go of discordant feelings? Are there any special techniques you use to help you remain peaceful and tolerant? Please post a comment here and let me know…


  • I strive to remain calm and neutral in the presence of someone whose personality can be challenging to me.
  • I imagine that an ethereal, healing cord of compassionate light can link from my heart to the heart of another.
  • I do the inner work to become my most caring, understanding self.


  1. Thank you, Sheryl, for an excellent article. This is advice I should have put into action a year ago, when dealing with a difficult family member. Instead, I let my hurt self take over and voiced my opinion of his treatment, not to his face, but through an email, which unfortunately he will keep and read many times. Did I mean what I said in the email? Yes I did. But the hurt came through as anger. I have learned the hard way to: 1/ Wait before reacting. 2/ pray for Divine guidance 3/ calm and balance myself, with Reiki, thus giving myself a chance to see both sides. And from your article, I will now add 4/ send healing/loving love the person and situation in question.
    Again, thank you Sheryl.
    Many blessings,
    Chris M.

    • Sheryl Schlameuss Berger says:

      Chris – I appreciate your kind feedback. And thank you for sharing your own experience regarding the challenging family member. Sometimes when we send letters, even in email format, they have a way of remaining in existence for a long time, particularly those things that have negative emotions attached. I’ve certainly gone through the same experience myself, and we can only hope to learn from past actions.

      I do like your four steps to deal with a challenging person, and thank you for including my own suggestion as the fourth step. Sometimes family members know exactly how to push our “anger buttons” because here in this physical plane, we all do have them. Being Reiki-trained does provide us with a wonderful, additional tool to help us remain calm and tolerant — but we have to remember to really call upon it, and to trust in its outcome. Many blessings to you too… Sheryl

  2. Rachel says:

    My personal challenge at the moment is my mother. I am moving her from her house of 30 years down in Florida to be close to us in NY ( attached to us in the nect building) So lots of packing going on in very close quarters for 2 weeks straight. She is racked with fear about every aspect of every part of her life. I on the other hand am the complete opposite giving anything I can’t handle over to the care of a higher power. I have faith that everything will work out exactly as it should. That whatever challenge I need to face, I can face one challenge at a time. It’s hard to teach her this concept and it’s very hard for me to see her needlessly suffer through things that are beyond her control. I tell her to look down at her feet, that it is where she is right that moment, that this moment there is no future or past but only this moment. Her choice is to go to fear. So since I can’t change her and can only change myself, my patience and tolorence towards her must prevail. I say to myself she is a sick person, and that gives me the umph to deal with her over and over again calming her down. I know it’s extremely stressful for her to be leaving her life behind, and if it was just things about the move it would be easier to understand, but it’s not just the move. It’s everything. So I take one thing at a time, I try and go for a quick walk to gather my patience back again so I can start again. She is sick, I have compasion for sick people and find releaf in sharing my thoughts with another person.

    • Sheryl Schlameuss Berger says:

      Rachel – thank you for taking the time to share and being candid about your own current experience with your mother. I hope that by sharing this, it helped you unburden some of the frustration you feel. It sounds like you are doing as best you can, and actually have a very balanced and understanding outlook toward the situation. Your mom is probably quite set in her ways, so it is not easy to have her learn something new at this stage of life, especially when she has so much change happening. I do hope that when the move is complete, and she has a chance to get used to her new surroundings, that she will calm down and be more accepting of the situation — and may come to enjoy being in close physical proximity to you. I like your idea about having her look down at her feet and acknowledging that is where she is right now — this way of looking at the present moment definitely brought a smile to my face! Wishing you calmer times ahead with mom — and much peace and light to you! ~Sheryl

  3. Sheryl you are an angel. Today I was in contact with this wonderful person and she was in pain and I send her your comment on facebook (the same than here) and she thank me for it. HUGS! You are a real healer my friend. NAMASTE!

    • Sheryl Schlameuss Berger says:

      Marie-Reine – thank you for your very thoughtful words! I hope the woman who you sent my comment to is helped by it — you know that I try to spread as much healing and light as I can… Thank you for the hugs and Namasté!