How Different Pressures Affect People

difficult people, how to handle difficult peopleWhen pressures in life start to get out of control, a difficult person is born. Babies are cute even when they start to mess around with things. But when they grow up, it’s a totally different story. The same thing holds true for difficult people. They start out amusing, even witty, but most of them turn into monsters later—some overnight.

Life pressures are common. We all encounter them in certain measures, and to varying degrees each day. They help us mature gracefully, if handled well. But the moment we let them begin controlling us, we tend to pass the pressure on to others and we become a “pain in the neck”, so to speak.

The day you were born, the womb was pressured to the maximum and your mother had to be rushed to the delivery room. When the pressure was too much, a major operation was needed. When you were transferred from the womb into this world, you began growing through a series of pressures: the pressure to eat, to sleep, to stop crying, to lie on your belly, to sit, to crawl, to stand up, and finally to walk. Your parents had to force you to do these things as a part of growing up. Then there was the pressure to eat nutritious things like vegetables and fruits. As you continued to grow, you were pressured to talk and pronounce words properly.

Then, you were sent to school. There, the teacher introduced new pressures to you to help you learn more and “grow” intellectually. The higher the schooling, the stronger the pressures became. Exams, projects, recitations, competitions, and the like were introduced to you, because “more of those pressures will meet you in the future”, they said. You were born and grown through pressures of all manner.

These kinds of pressures are all necessary. They are all essentially good. They are designed to bring out the best in us. But somehow, when taken out of context or from the wrong perspective, they can become negative pressures that, instead of bringing out the best, bring out the worse. Pressures ought to be faced maturely. This means the soul (mind, feelings, and will) is nurtured as pressures are overcome. But when the ego takes in all the beatings (the soul succumbs to the pressures), a difficult person emerges and takes over.

Types of Pressures

More often than not, some form of life pressure is the culprit in the emergence of difficult people. Other types are:

  • Peer pressure – when being difficult becomes a trend (glorified in movies and on TV) and your peers go with the flow.
  • Illness pressure – which is due to a mild illness.
  • Disciplinary pressure – when having a difficult attitude is assumed to test the loyalty and perseverance of subordinates, like in offices, in fraternities, and in the military.

These pressures are often momentary and feigned. Disciplinary pressures, when properly administered, seldom result in a bad attitude because it is used to mold the character.

Pressures brought about by everyday life, and which becomes internalized or “ingrained”, is the focus of this study. These pressures may shock an individual and enter the system. As one of these “pressures” hits bottom, it starts to build up and gather steam. Eventually, it is contained no longer and erupts into a destructive attitude.

Overt Pressures

Some pressures in life are obvious. They attack from the outside. Piled up work in the office, a very demanding boss, deadlines to beat, school or board exams, and a nagging spouse are examples of these pressures. They are often temporary and manageable, shortened by rest periods when the cause of the pressure is allayed. But they show nonetheless, sometimes in slightly heightened degrees. And yes, some difficult people may simply be the result of other people’s being difficult to them. It’s like a vicious cycle – in most cases it is attributable to attitude transfer. Wrong attitudes can be imparted.

Overt pressures are mostly “skin deep” and can rarely affect the total person for long periods. More so, the effect is seldom permanent. Bad attitude from this type of pressure feeds on the periodic onslaughts of minute pressures, and without such feeding, the bad attitude subsides. But if ignored, such bad attitudes may worsen as the ratio of pressures and rest periods become disproportional. In such cases, the bad attitude recovers quickly from the rest period because the latter is cut short by a new overt pressure.

For instance, a student is pressured by both financial problems and the submission of a school project due soon. He is irked by financial woes and lack of time. Such double or even multiple pressures produce low LOT. He starts to be prickly with his group mates. After rushing to finish the project the night before the deadline, the professor announces a long surprise quiz. The first pressures have hardly gone by when the second one comes in. The rest period is terribly cut short, leaving the battered emotions unrelieved, and the temperament all the more irritated. The LOT drops to its lowest point.

When a person is pestered by overt pressure and he has the will to initially overcome it, he tends to be mildly difficult at first. LOT slightly lowers. If symptoms persist and complications are added, he goes halfway to being extreme. It becomes extremely difficult to stop when the pressures start to really build up. The LOT dives as a result.

When the pressure increases, the LOT decreases, and vice-versa. If a person has control of his/her LOT and is able to even boost it, he/she has mastered the art of self-control and proves to be a strong, patient person we all admire. Most pressures are uncontrollable, but our levels of toleration are – if we master them. And once we do, we are able to help difficult people.

So the game is really all about LOT mastery. And winning the game means keeping the LOT high. A high LOT is a sure way of determining that you are not a difficult person, and a high LOT is a sure tactic for conquering difficult people.

Take this case as an example. When a demanding boss or professor (probably a difficult guy himself) is appeased, or a deadline is met, or an exam is passed, or a nagging (difficult) wife is momentarily pacified, then things quiet down and the difficult person relaxes and exhibits tolerable manners. And often, the ease periods that occur between pressures are relief well taken by him so that he may sometimes be strangely benevolent to people. You may see him being nice even to people he usually seems to despise. He may buy everybody a free lunch. But don’t be deceived. Such transitions are temporary. If you are caught with this person, brace up for another round of challenges soon.

Overt pressures are, at times, relatively easy to escape from. Difficult people who meet such pressures usually resort to other activities to divert attention and be temporarily relieved from the pressures that beset them. They may busy themselves with some charitable works, games, leisure or hobby. They may take up a new school course, or socialize and hold positions in clubs. Initially, this seems a good way of “channeling energy” to other “positive” activities, but this is merely an escape route that can change or solve nothing except to possibly provide short relief.

There are several crucial factors affecting overt pressures. Among them are the following:


As Karl Marx puts it, anything that diverts attention from the root cause of a problem is an “opiate” of the people. Escapism is not only an opiate. It usually drowns its victims in a whirlpool of falsehood and lies which later transforms and becomes real in a victim’s eyes. Many difficult people worsen when they resort to mere escapism to ward off pressures without confronting and remedying their situation. The brief relief diminishes in effectiveness; therefore, higher doses of relief are required to produce a more potent “anti-pressure serum” in the same way that antibiotics become ineffective when over-used. Thus, you see some difficult people continually becoming harder to please. When difficult people resort to escaping, they are building their own world of lies. Worse, they impose such a world on other people, so that meaningful relations are only possible when others adapt to the world of these difficult people.

Crossing Over

Some overt pressures, if taken positively, can actually serve as “stepping stones” to help difficult people overcome their adverse attitudes. These are called stepping stones because they can slowly change a difficult person from being difficult to being tolerable or considerate. It’s like crossing over from their false world to the real world.

Pressure Reversal

When you fight your negative tendencies, you reverse the pressure effects and come out a different person if done consistently. This takes a lot of self-control. It works pretty much like reverse psychology. Child psychologists say that instead of making a child obey you, you can talk to them in forms of suggestions that make sense to them based on their interests; for instance, telling them running could cause them to stumble and hurt themselves rather than simply ordering them to stop running. Their interest is to avoid getting hurt. In pressure reversal, you convince yourself to always react positively especially in adverse situations. What is your interest here? It is to not become like the difficult person you are dealing with. You don’t want to turn into an unreasonably demanding boss someday, so you assume exactly the opposite attitude your difficult boss is showing you. It takes an apple tree to produce an apple. If you want a banana, then don’t plant an apple tree.

Covert Pressures

Pressures that are imbedded attack from within. They are the more subtle pressures that make for a more difficult and often defiant or resistant character. Difficult people born out of covert pressures seem to disagree with everybody and everything. They seem to hate the world. They seldom find respite from their pressures because the pressures are deep within. It has been built into their system. Unlike difficult people with overt pressures who still enjoy intermediate (though temporary) cessation of pressures, victims of covert pressures live a life of being difficult. They stay hurt and irritated, and are quick to react negatively to many situations.

Covert pressures are often things from the past that were impressed during childhood, like abusive or damaging words from parents, scenes of violence, fierce sibling rivalry, discrimination, and persistent financial problems. Some may be incurred in adolescence or even in adulthood. Covert pressures either push people to compete for recognition or to withdraw by blaming others. These people try to live a dream wherein everything is perfect due to their designs and doings. They see themselves as heroes who always know the right things to do. They forcefully dictate their ways and opinions onto others while fully convinced they are here on a mission to correct others (a positive thing in their mind).

People react to covert pressures in 2 ways. They either:

Compete for recognition

Covert pressures may goad people to compete for recognition. Aching to be recognized is one highly motivational pressure that has either made or broken many lives in history. A classic example is a boy who, due to poverty, suffered discrimination and banishment. His relatives made him feel that he would never amount to anything. As he grew up, the boy vowed to do everything to prove his accusers wrong. He later became a self-made man. Over the years he became successful materially but his hurt emotions had been deeply embedded within his ego. Now, life to him is one big competition. He constantly strives to show himself as right, and others as wrong. Of course, he does not announce this as a creed, but without being aware it becomes the foundation of all he does. It becomes the engine that runs his life, the inspiration that gives him gusto. So he goes about his daily routine correcting everybody, giving his unsolicited advice, and making sure everyone listens to him. After all, he is a self-made man, and people ought to learn from his example. And thus, life becomes difficult for those close to him and around him. Of course, any man under covert pressure can opt to react differently and apply a little pressure reversal. He may still do everything to win in life, but he must also consider those who are not as successful, and those who do not want to be too successful. Believe it or not, there are many people who fall into this category because they see being ultra-successful as carrying a lot of responsibility with it.

Withdraw by blaming others

Covert pressures can also send people to the depths of despair; and being in a helpless state, they hate others for it. They may opt to appear defeated too, and may show how much a loser they are by refusing to engage in anything worthwhile. Yet they maintain that they are mere victims of circumstances beyond control, of which others are to blame. Their fate is often a life of endless searching for reasons to despair more. These difficult people see nothing but failure and doom, and urge you to see things likewise. Yet, they may also opt to appear normal like everybody and pretend to undertake worthwhile things. But they lead a life of constantly blaming others for everything wrong and claiming authorship for everything right. Often, these people will offer little help or suggestion, if any, unlike those who opt for competition for recognition. These individuals will only blame and put down people. They love to see failure mushrooming around people. They want to prove that everybody but them is stupid.

Covert pressures take charge of their victims’ lives. They damage the emotional foundations of people. When ignored, they go deeper and settle in the egos. The ego, or inner person, is the one within that controls and operates the person outside. The visible person outside is a mere puppet of the person inside.

When Overt and Covert Pressures Strike Together

The worst-case scenario comes when both overt and covert pressures attack difficult people. Imagine a guy with a serious, latent pressure embedded in his heart which grows as the years pass by. Then add the outside pressures that worsen the pressure inside, and hot steams begin to spill out of breaks in the walls. When the whole thing finally gives way, you have a volcanic eruption in your hands. And in real life, there are such people.

Pressures do a lot of wonders to people. Geological pressures beneath the earth either create or stir up violent upheavals, or both. It’s the same with pressures on humans. Pressure can transform them to better and stronger individuals, or they can stir them to chaotic, destructive impulses that create even deadlier pressures. People who are able to break through the barriers of pressures unharmed come out like diamonds. (Diamonds come from a terrible build up of pressure from super red-hot rocks below the earth.)

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