Have you had a recent encounter with someone that has been “difficult”? That made you think, what is going on here? Is it me? What am I doing wrong? Whilst there may certainly be a problem specific to your interaction or relationship. It is also entirely possible that it’s not personal. You have to consider that repeating behaviour patterns may be at play.

Repeating behaviour patterns

As human beings, we acquire behaviours and repeat them. Sometimes, we adapt and change our behaviour, but much of what we do can easily become non-conscious. Coming from a place of deep conditioning, even stretching right back to our earliest years.

It is then very easy for someone to almost automatically deploy a habitual behaviour pattern when faced with a particular type of situation or person. And, that situation might involve you! What they might be reacting to is not just you in isolation, but deep memory of past experience that is triggered within them. Something probably quite unpleasant.

For example, perhaps your clear and direct communication style is triggering in them the non-conscious memory of a former boss that gave them a hard time.  Not your fault, but, this can create a difficult dynamic in your work relationship.

Understanding and compassion

Recognising the possibility of such behaviour patterns is not about condoning them or letting them go. But, rather about engaging with them from a place of compassion and understanding. A place of deeper recognition, from which you are more likely to improve and heal the situation.

Of course, don’t forget that YOU might yourself actually be creating the difficulty too! Perhaps, it is you that is being triggered by them, and not the other way around. It could also be both. And, it could also be neither – just a naturally tricky situation.


So, you see, engaging with human relationship difficulties requires a constant awareness of both self and other. To see the complexity of our unconscious behaviour patterns, and how we might be falling into them time and time again.

It then starts with you asking yourself: How am I behaving here and what is my own behaviour led by? Am I non-consciously reacting to that person as if they were [insert name]? Similarly, what might be going on for the other?

Remember that it’s not always personal.

Find out more about Harsha’s work