How to Handle Difficult People: Spiritual Teacher or Downright Toxic?


I was talking to a healer buddy of mine for over an hour today and it was such an interesting conversation that I felt inspired to create a blog post. My friend is a very empathic and gifted healer. Like most healers I know (including myself), he is a people pleaser so that combination of healer/empathic/people pleaser means setting good, strong, clear energetic boundaries on people he interacts with is very important to his health and well being.

Anyway my buddy had dinner last night with an old friend and another person he had never met before. My buddy didn’t resonate with the new person at all. He felt he was very negative and so my buddy basically disengaged from the conversation and disconnected energetically from the person. Twelve hours later and after a nights rest and he was still disturbed about the encounter. He was upset with himself that he was not more compassionate with the individual and was feeling guilt and regret about the way he handled the encounter and dealt with the person.

Any new person who enters your life and disturbs you the next day is someone to look closely at so we explored this situation in great depth – this is the executive summary version.

First of all, I NO LONGER CHOOSE TO BEAT UP ON MYSELF for how I handled any encounters or interactions with other people NO MATTER WHAT. Second, I try not to place labels on it or to judge or criticize myself as being selfish or not compassionate in how I handle a difficult person. I also try not to revert to guilt or regret at any time. If I feel guilt and regret, I look for what “I should do” or “ought to do” statements – often from early childhood – are operating and clear them out.

When I encounter a difficult person or attract one into my life, I usually drop what I am doing and focus on what is going on energetically. The first thing I do is ask the Creator to heal and ameliorate any karma I may have with that person or that person may have with me. A lot of time this one step alone clears up the whole incident and I go merrily on my way without interacting again with the person.

If that does not resolve the issue, I go to phase 2 and ask what is that person reflecting or mirroring back to me that I need to look at within myself and heal. Then I work with what comes up and clear it out.

If this does not resolve it, I ask is there a hidden wakeup call in this. Is there something going on that is seeking to gain my attention. In this case, my buddy has an old “friend” in another state who left his life several years ago but now is coming back to FL to live. This person is probably not a divine ideal person for my buddy to hang out with and the new person is very much like this friend. So in a way this encounter served my buddy to warn him to look at his relationship with his old friend and decide how he wants to handle him in the future.

Please note that the encounter with the difficult person is serving the highest good of my buddy even if he does not realize or appreciate it.

If there is no karma, no mirror, no wakeup call then the other possibility is that the difficult person reminds me of someone from my past like a parent, sibling or friend that I need to forgive. Usually the people we have karma with are also the people we need to forgive as well.

The really interesting thing to me for mastery is how should we handle difficult people. And to me that is often a combination of where we are on the path and whether or not the difficult person is a teacher or a toxic. The guiding principle is to be compassionate with yourself.

When I first realized what a strong empath I was, it really changed how I interacted with people. I began looking at the people around me and I made changes. People who I did not enjoy being with or who I LOL judged as lowering my vibration – I cut out of my life quite ruthlessly. It was something I needed to do at that time because I did not have the shielding and filters and protective mechanisms I needed to interact with them.

I was taking on other people’s stuff right and left and the only way I knew how to handle it was to eliminate them from my life. It created a huge amount of stress on my relationship with my ex who did not understand this and thought I was being extremely selfish by no longer doing stuff with my old low vibration buddies. And I did not feel it was selfish at all and still don’t. If I have any regrets at all it would be that I realized earlier in my life that I was so empathic and been more discerning at an earlier age as to who I hung out with. LOL and if I had would I have been with that ex who like all my exes is a great spiritual teacher for me.

Any way – that was sixteen years ago and today I approach difficult people very differently. I have learned over the years that a lot of my growth and evolution comes from difficult people. One of my biggest spiritual teachers was an old boss of mine who I could not cut out of my life. And to be honest, if I could have cut her out of my life and kept my job I would have.

There is a big difference between Difficult People who are Spiritual Teachers and Difficult People who Cross the Line and have become Toxic. Teacher Difficult People bring up stuff and make us explore areas that are not comfortable but they provide a way for us to clear, heal, transmute and release dysfunctional patterns and programs. This ultimately helps us to grow, evolve, expand and raise our vibration.

Toxic Difficult People are another type of creature altogether. Toxic people bring up so much stuff and are so negative that they can overpower a person energetically and lower their vibration. And if I see a toxic person enter my life, I start to run and run fast and hard.

About Reiki Master Bill Austin:

Bill Austin is an energy healing facilitator, spiritual teacher, artist, writer and visionary living in St Petersburg, Florida in the United States. Bill specializes in spiritual healing and is the founder of several Reiki and other energy healing modalities. He has trained healers in over sixteen countries and has helped people from all over the world to heal, grow, expand and to realize more of their full potential. Bill infuses healing and enlightenment energies into healing art images and has created a line of self help books. You can click on this link to download a free healing ebook called: Vibrational Color Healing Art: A Fun, Joyful and Playful Approach to Healing. Please follow Bill on Twitter!

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