Learn about yourself from the people you resent

In our day to day interaction with others there are people we like and others we don’t. Some give us inspiration, some make us laugh and others make us think. All of this is normal and part of who we are. But sometimes we meet people which we, instantly, don’t like at all. They seem to represent everything we are not. They can make us feel nervous, anxious, stressed or even angry. Generally they give us a whole bunch of negative emotions. We seem to be allergic to them.

Have you even wondered why that is? I think you can learn about yourself from the people you resent.

People we like usually have traits we can identify with. They can make us feel good, make us happy, they inspire us. We may admire them as they represent some part of us who we are or want to be. On the other hand people who we are allergic to have traits or characteristics that don’t belong to our values at all. They represent something we are not and don’t want to be. We think we have nothing in common with them.

But is this really so? What if there is more going on than meets the eye? Could it be that the reason why we resent them so much is that they trigger a hidden part of us? A part of us which is unknown or which we have neglected? Have a look at the following example:

Sarah is vice president of a software company. She worked very hard and made long hours to get to where she is now. Sarah is always busy with work (even in the weekends) and enjoys what she is doing. She expects this same attitude from the people working for her. Sarah can get along with almost any anyone. Well, almost, as there is one exception: People, who are lazy, slackers, do not have any goals and do not take responsibility for their actions. The exact opposite of what she is. Sarah is a usually very polite to people but whenever she meets someone with this personality type she responds furious. Why? Because she has met a personality type which resonates with a part of her that she doesn’t know.

Whenever someone is giving us this kind of reaction there is a good chance that that person is triggering a part of us which we haven’t given enough attention. This could be a part which we have ignored and may need to develop. In Sarah’s example she doesn’t allow herself to take a break or take it easy. That’s why people who seem to be lazy trigger an emotional response with her. The neglected part is giving her a signal to give it some attention. In other words: she needs to develop her “lazy” side.

I invite you to investigate this side of you. If certain people can trigger a strong emotional response, if we resent them, then ask yourself: What makes me feel negative about this person? Why do I respond this way? What is it that I don’t like about this person and is there a hidden part of me that resonates with this? Could it be that I neglected this and need to develop? There is a lot to learn about yourself from the people you resent.

3 comments… add one
  • Benjamin Jan 21, 2010 @ 1:11

    Brilliant, Patrick!

    Jung called this the shadow… the part of the self that we are afraid to accept.

    It makes acceptance that much more important!

    The more we accept ourselves, the fewer enemies we need to create.

    keep smiling,


  • Lou Macabasco Feb 1, 2010 @ 12:29

    Really great post here Patrick!

    Very well illustrated! I totally agree, that the things we hate the most about other people is the same exact opposite of what we do. And instead of attacking other people or clinging to negative emotions, what we can do better is look at the bigger picture, for who knows, there something that needs to be changed within you. and if there’s none, at least try to respect other people’s values.

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