A Secret for Dealing with the Exasperating People in Your Life by James L. Rubart

(I previously published the following post on my James L. Rubart site, but due to the response I received, I think it’s worth running again for those of you who aren’t subscribed to my personal blog,)

Do you have anyone in your life that treats you poorly again and again in ways that makes no logical sense? I might be able to help you deal with it.

But first—to set up my insight–I have talk a little Survivor (the TV show.) There’s a contestant on the show this season that is the epitome of treating people poorly.


If you’re a fan, all I have to do is write the word, “Colton.” If you’re not watching, here’s a ten second recap:

Colton was a contestant (he quit the show last episode) who played a few seasons back, and returned for this season, called Blood vs Water. Previous players have come with a loved one and have been split into opposing tribes.

Colton  is probably the most racist, bigoted, cruel, bullying person I’ve ever seen. Viewers loathed the guy, but CBS had to secretly love it. (To be compelling, a story needs an intriguing villain, right?)

After he quit a few weeks back, Colton skittered over to the other tribe and sat on his guy’s lap. (Colton is gay.)

Opening Pandora’s Box

When he did this, something tweaked in my brain. Sit on his loved one’s lap? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grown man sit on the lap of their significant other, gay or straight. It was extremely strange behavior. That’s when I realized something that has helped me with my difficult relationships for many years now.

Colton’s behavior was completely appropriate, because Colton is two, maybe three years old. Not physically or intellectually, but emotionally. My guess is something traumatic happened to Colton in his very early years and he’s been frozen emotionally at that age ever since.

So when he was put in a particularly difficult situation (Survivor ain’t easy physically or emotionally from what I’ve seen and been told) the three-year-old came out. What three year old isn’t going to crawl up on the lap of the person they think can comfort or protect them?

 A Light Bulb Went Off in my Life

A number of years ago, I had a close friend who continued to behave in a way that frustrated me deeply. But when I learned he had a brutal incident happen in his life at age 12, and I compared his actions to my then 12-year old son, all his strange decisions and hurtful actions made sense.

Darci and I started looking at our extended families this way. Bingo! Instant insight and understanding.

Is this making sense to you? Can you look at some of the people around and start to understand why they act like they do?

 You Might Want to Stop Reading Here

The truth is 99% of us have been wounded when we were young, and if you’re willing to buy into my theory above, it means we probably need to admit we might be much younger emotionally than we realized. That we’re also frozen.

But that’s okay. That’s when healing can begin. It’s when Jesus can come into the broken area and start to put the pieces of our heart back together.

Also, when we realize most people’s strange behavior comes out deep pain from long ago, we might start having more compassion for them.

Even for a guy like Colton.

Even for little boys and girls like you and me.

About James L. Rubart

Husband, Dad, Author, Speaker
This entry was posted in Honored Alumni, James L. Rubart, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Secret for Dealing with the Exasperating People in Your Life by James L. Rubart

  1. Thank you for this, Jim. You have excellent human compassion, and you’ve given us a tool for dealing with people in our lives who make things so difficult. I could be way off base, but sometimes we have to be strong for these hurting people in difficult ways, discipline them with love, but with good boundaries, as God does with us.


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