How to Deal with Difficult People

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about.  The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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We’ve all encountered them. Difficult people who could, if we let them, make our lives miserable. Perhaps you know one. Perhaps you work with one. Perhaps you even live with one.

So, what can you do to keep difficult people from making your life difficult?

Man trying to explain himself

Here are a three practices that have helped me deal with difficult people:

—Make sure that you are not a difficult person to live with or work with.  Far too often, we are quick to point the finger and to blame others for being difficult when we, ourselves, are blind to our own difficult ways. When dealing with a difficult person, the first step is to check our own hearts. Jesus said this in Matthew 7: 5: “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Make sure you don’t have a log in your own eye when dealing with a difficult perosn.

Remember that hurting people hurt people. Difficult people have a history, usually a very painful or even traumatic one. While this is no excuse for bad behavior, it is a reason for it. And knowing that there is a reason behind all bad behavior helps us to see the difficult person through the eyes of compassion. For example, what comes across as anger may, in reality, be fear at not measuring up to the job. What comes across as stubbornness may, in reality, be a feeling of insecurity or inferiority. Behind every behavior is a belief. When that belief does not align with truth, we often come face to face with a difficult person. Remember these words from Ephesians 4: 32 when dealing with a difficult person: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Apply the law of opposites. Return a kind word for a harsh one. Return a smile for a frown. Return understanding for criticism. Return encouragement for blame and accusation. In short, return good for evil. The Word of God says this in 1 Peter 3: 9: “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

Now, it’s YOUR turn: How do you deal with difficult people? Please leave a comment in the box below.

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3 Keys to Good Relationships

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

Relationships are the stuff of life. When they go well, lie is good. When they go sour, life is not so good.

Some people have a knack for good relationships; others seem to botch almost every relationship. What is the difference?

People are finding relief in a support group

The difference lies in how one manages a relationship. Here are four keys I’ve discovered that help to take a relationship from mediocre to great:

Key #1: Put the needs and interests of others above your own. This key is found in Philippians 2: 3-4: “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  In other words, do not be selfish, but selfless.

Key #2: Be patient with others. This key is found in Ephesians 4: 2: “ . . . be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Patience with the shortcomings of others goes a long way in cultivating and maintaining good relationships. 

Key #3: Develop a servant’s heart. This key is found in Philippians 2: 5-7: “Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality. Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant….” A servant’s heart functions from pure motives, motives that align with God’s will as found in His Word.

Three keys. Simple, yet challenging to live by. But, oh, so worth it when it comes to cultivating and nurturing those relationships that make life worthwhile.

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Are You Lonely?

Four Tips for Overcoming Loneliness

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

One of the most painful issues of the heart is loneliness. Why? Because God created us for relationship. Relationship with Him, first of all, and relationship with others.

Lonely Child on SeasawPhoto Source: File: #40298475 | Author: mariazin

Interestingly, loneliness is not usually related to the presence or absence of people. A person can feel lonely in the midst of a crowd, or he can be extremely happy when no one else is around.

Loneliness and aloneness are not the same thing. Loneliness implies a severance from meaningful relationships with other people. It is a psychological and emotional state rather than a physical one. Aloneness, on the other hand, is a physical state and implies being physically without the company of other human beings.

Why are people lonely? One of the chief reasons is that lonely people are often focused on themselves rather than on others. They are concentrating on meeting their own needs rather than on meeting the needs of others. Lonely people also usually suffer from self-pity. They feel sorry for themselves and consider themselves helpless victims of their circumstances.

But no one is really a victim of his circumstances. While we cannot always control what happens to us in life, we can always control our response to what happens.

If you are lonely, you can change your lonely life into a rich, full one by responding to your loneliness with the following antidotes to loneliness:

1) Reach out to those around you. Offer your time and talents to the many organizations that could use your help. Every community has volunteer, church, and civic programs that often are short-staffed and would warmly welcome your help.

For instance, you could become involved in your local literacy program and reap the joy of helping someone learn how to read. You could volunteer in a nursing home and spread sunshine among those who may be forgotten. You could work as a teacher’s aide and impact a young life in a positive way. The possibilities are endless.

2) Remember the Law of Sowing and Reaping: You will get what you give. This law applies to everything in life, even to friendship. Proverbs 18:24 makes this very clear: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly….”

Are you a friendly person? Or are you mean-tempered and grouchy? If you were someone else, would you like to be around you? If you would not like to be around you, then change. Become a friendly person. Let the Law of Sowing and Reaping work for you in a positive way. Soon you will find that people are drawn to your warmth and friendliness.

3) Trust God to provide an answer to your loneliness. In the Book of Psalms, God makes a wonderful promise. The promise is this: “God sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6). God is aware of your loneliness, and He has promised to put you in a community of people who will encourage you and uplift you.

But while God will do His part, you must do your part. Your part is to stop focusing on your own needs and start focusing on the needs of others. This is the quickest and surest antidote to loneliness.

As you get your eyes off yourself and on to someone else, you will discover an amazing thing. You will discover that, in the process of helping someone else satisfy his or her needs, you will no longer feel lonely. You will feel needed and alive.

4) Finally, remember that no matter how lonely you may feel, you are never truly alone. In that same verse in Proverbs where God says that He puts the solitary in families, He also says that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). That friend is Jesus Christ. Though others may leave you or abandon you, He never will (Hebrews 13:5). Reach out to Him and make Him Your Best Friend. If you do, I promise you that you’ll never be lonely again.


In my newest work of fiction, SURRENDER TO LOVE, young widow and life coach, Dr. Teresa LopezPicMonkeyFINAL061815416pm Gonzalez, finds healing from loneliness by reaching out to help someone in need.

Available in Kindle and print versions.

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The Controlling Heart

Do you have a controlling heart?  Or, perhaps, you know someone who does. Whichever the case, a controlling heart can cause major problems both for the one doing the controlling and the one allowing himself to be controlled.

What are some of the characteristics of a controlling heart?  Here are a few of the most common:

  • Controlling people want to dictate how everything around them is done. They nag and insist on their own way of doing things.
  • Controlling people are unable to admit their mistakes. They have to be right and refuse to listen to constructive criticism that could set them free from the spirit of control.
  • Controlling people assume authority without being asked and without the spiritual or legal right to do so. They may interrupt a meeting and simply take over, or they may make a decision they have no authority to make.
  • Controlling people micro-manage their spouses, their children, their friends, and their co-workers. They offer advice without being asked.
  • Controlling people are manipulative. They often use charm to get their own way.
  • Controlling people are narcissistic, selfish, and very immature. They believe their way is the best way. They will not consider the opinions of others as being as valid as their own.

Usually one of two evil spirits lies at the root of a controlling personality: 1) the spirit of power or 2) the spirit of fear.  Some controlling people have a sick need to dominate others and will attempt to bully them into complying with their wishes.  Other controlling people operate out of fear that if they do not hold the reins, their world will fall apart. In my experience, most controlling people are motivated by fear.  Both spirits of control will, if not confronted, destroy relationships, families, churches, and organizations.

Control issues usually start in early childhood because of a home environment that, in some way, failed to make the child feel secure.  As a result, the child developed a method of coping with anxiety by attempting to control his environment. What the controlling person fails to realize is that control is an illusion that inhibits healthful growth and fosters bondage. While authority is ordained of God, a controlling person abuses that authority to the detriment of himself and others.

People with controlling spirits are usually very insecure and have serious codependency issues. This means that they need to control others in order to feel safe and secure themselves. Especially challenging are controlling persons in positions of authority. I have seen organizations split or fail to full their destiny because of a controlling person who either led the organization or led the leader of the organization.

If you struggle with a controlling personality, get help. If you are the victim of a controlling personality, get help to free yourself in the proper way. 

God made us to be free within the confines of His Word. He who seeks to control another is assuming a role attributable only to God. Doing so is nothing short of idolatry.

Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

The Worried Heart

Do you have a worried heart? I used to struggle with worry, but I’ve learned a few things along the way that may help you, too.

What is worry?  The word “worry” comes from the Greek word merimnao which is actually a combination of two other Greek words, merizo and nous. Merizo means “to divide” while nous means “mind.” So, to worry means to divide the mind. When the mind is divided, so is the heart.

The Book of James tells us that a divided mind is an unstable mind (James 1:8). So, when we worry, our minds are actually unstable. And an unstable mind is incapable of making a wise decision–or any decision at all, for that matter. Moreover, worry adversely affects our physical bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Not only does worry split the mind and hurt the body, but, more significantly, worry is also a sin.  We rarely look on worry as a sin, but if we did, we might be more intentional in overcoming it.  

One insight that greatly helped me in overcoming worry was to realize that worry is simply using my imagination in a negative way.  Each of us has an imagination. We can choose to use it to picture positive outcomes for our lives, or we can choose it to picture negative outcomes for our lives. The good news is that we have a choice. Choose to use your imagination to picture positive outcomes for your life and worry will no longer plague you.

Overcoming worry involves creating a picture in your imagination that corresponds with God’s picture of you as found in His Word.  When your picture and God’s picture agree, you set in motion the power of agreement as described in Matthew 18:19.  When the power of agreement is in effect, faith is ignited to receive what God has for you.

Corrie Ten Boom who survived the concentration camps said this: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strength.”  

The Word of God is our antidote to worry. When you are tempted to worry, meditate on these words of Jesus:

Hebrews 13:5 – “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Matthew 6:34 – ““So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

Finally, remember this: what we worry about rarely comes to pass. So why waste precious time worrying when we can spend that same time trusting God and resting in His love for us?

Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.