What I’ve Learned About Prickly Pear People




There are all kinds of people in the world. Some of them are Prickly Pears: people who get your goat, drive you crazy, know how to push your buttons, and just generally make you grind your teeth.

Like everyone else, I have to deal with Prickly Pears. There are a handful that are particularly frustrating to deal with. While I do my best to remain calm, inside I can feel the annoyance building. This increases my frustration because I really want to remain calm but I can’t seem to manage it. Which makes me even more frustrated!

And, like everyone else, sometimes it’s hard to find techniques that will effectively press the reset button. While stepping back and taking a deep breath or two (or three or four…!!) can be helpful at lowering my frustration levels, these methods don’t always take me back to a level of zero frustration.

Recently, though, I hit upon a solution that came about in a very unlikely and unexpected way.

I was meeting with one of my Prickly Pear People and I had tensed up because I knew he would be difficult. I’d heard he was coping with a personal tragedy and, before we started our meeting, I expressed my sympathy. For a brief moment, I saw a lost and bewildered person looking back at me.

It was just a glimpse, but that was all I needed for my frustration level to go down to zero—and stay there.

That flash of an unguarded moment helped me see him in a whole new light. It made me realize that the vast majority of people are doing the best they can. They may be doing it in a way that makes us tear our hair out, but in that moment, cupped in their hands is the best of what they have to offer.


Your homework today is to remember that you don’t really know what kinds of loss and devastation—real AND imagined—that other people, especially your Prickly Pears, are dealing with. In spite of what they’re coping with, they are still trying to be helpful and valuable.

It helps to mentally step back from the situation with them and become an observer. You’ll soon see that they are vulnerable and fragile, just like you.

Perhaps thinking this way can help you reduce, and even eliminate, the frustration you may feel when dealing with them.

Give it a try!

You can do it!

I’m so proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,




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