How to Handle People When They’re Doing it Wrong

Be honest; when is the last time you felt frustrated because someone wasn’t “doing it right?”

Maybe your kids won’t stop fighting.

Or your partner isn’t helping out around the house.

Maybe your community isn’t taking the right action.

Or your leader isn’t doing the right thing.

If you’re like most of us, it wasn’t too long ago.

And what’s more, it feels terrible to think this way.

We feel frustrated, angry, or annoyed.

Maybe we’re hopeless, helpless, or even disillusioned. 

But what can we do?

How can we think differently?

How can we feel better?

And how can we take action with a clear head? How can we show up as our best selves even in these challenging situations?

Well, my friend. That’s exactly what we’re talking about in this week’s episode.

Be sure to listen below or stream episode 39 from your favorite podcasting app.

Prefer to read? No problem. Keep scrolling to read the full transcript!



  • Why thinking “they’re doing it wrong” is holding you back
  • What you might think instead
  • My 3 favorite strategies to expand your perspective, gain clarity, and find solutions to the problem



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Do you ever find yourself thinking, “they’re doing it wrong!” How do you handle these situations? Share your strategies below!

Transcript: How to Handle Other People When They’re Wrong

Hey, friends! Welcome to the podcast. How are things going for you today? I am looking out my window right now at falling snow – which is not a welcome sight on April 18th let me tell you. 

In fact, I woke up to about 4″ this morning. I’m not sure what Mother Nature is planning right now, but I’m not really okay with it. She seems to be a little bit confused or misinformed at the moment.

Anyway, I hope that wherever you are the weather is gorgeous and the sun is shining.

Now, speaking of being misinformed, today we’re going to talk about what we can do when other people are doing it wrong.

What do I even mean by that?

Well here’s the deal. I have noticed a repeated message in so many different places recently that “people” are doing it wrong. I see this message posted on social media. I’ve heard it from my clients. And I hear myself think different versions of this statement. 

They’re Doing it Wrong

Our kids are doing it wrong. They’re antsy. They’re complaining. And they’re not doing what we ask them to do. They’re picking fights with one another.

Our partners are doing it wrong. They’re not helping out as they should. They’re not following through as they should. And they’re not stepping up as they should.

Our neighbors and our leaders are doing it wrong. People are being too cautious. People aren’t being cautious enough. This person shouldn’t have said that. This person should have done this.

And again, we all have these thoughts at different times in our lives. And there’s nothing wrong with having these thoughts. 

That being said, these very thoughts are the ones that often create a lot of pain discomfort for us. These are the thoughts make us feel frustrated and angry. They make us feel helpless and hopeless. They make us feel disillusioned and cynical.

And I don’t know about you, but these are not feelings that I’d intentionally choose on purpose.

I mean, if I was handed a platter of emotions, I would probably not deliberately choose to feel cynical or angry or helpless. 

BUT, so many of us – myself included – are choosing these emotions on purpose. And while it might not feel that way. It might not feel like we are choosing to feel this way, we are. So let me explain how.

Choosing Your Emotions

When we think about these other people who are doing it “wrong,” and we keep thinking to ourselves that we are right and they are wrong, it causes us discomfort. 

And this doesn’t mean we have to be thinking mean, bitter thoughts. In fact, our thoughts might sound like, ‘if they only understood what’s really going on here, they’d act differently.” Or “if they only just listened to reason, they would get it.” Or maybe it’s simply, “They really shouldn’t be doing this.”

But I promise you, those thoughts are not helpful. 

We Can’t Control Others

Because here is the truth. We cannot control other people. Believe me, if there was a trick to do it, I would tell you. But we can’t. We cannot control the other humans. 

So when we constantly think to ourselves, “they should just do it this way.” or “I wish they would just do it this way.” It feels terrible. Because you’re arguing with reality. You’re arguing with what is. And when you do that, it feels awful. 

You feel frustrated. You feel angry. Or you feel hopeless. And when you’re stuck in those emotions, it’s hard to think clearly. It’s hard to show up with intention. It’s hard to show up the way you want to even in challenging situations.

Now, I realize these ideas might not make much sense yet, but just stick with me today. I’m going to walk us through it.

Because I’m also not here to simply tell you you’re out of luck. I’m not here to say, “Sorry, since you can’t control other people, so you should just deal with feeling terrible.” 

There is a Solution

Instead. I’m here to talk with you about how you can approach these different circumstances in your life. I’m going to talk you through some different ways to think about your circumstances whether they are interactions within your home with your kids or your partner. Whether it is interactions with family members or friends. Or whether you’re looking at broader challenges in terms of your community or different leaders in your life.

And we are going to explore new ways to think about these circumstances. We’re going to discuss how you can stop having a knee-jerk reaction to these circumstances and instead decide with intention what you want to think, feel, and do. 

In other words, you will learn how to decide on purpose how you want to show up in these situations, and you will do it from a place of clarity and understanding rather than frustration and anger.

And I want to share with you three different strategies today to help you deal with these people who are “doing it wrong.”

Trying to Change Someone’s Behavior

Now, one common scenario that I have heard frequently from my clients and people on Facebook and some of my friends when we’ve talked on the phone, has to do with frustration around their children’s behavior. 

So maybe your children aren’t listening very well. Or maybe they aren’t applying themselves to their online learning as diligently as you would like them to be. Maybe they are constantly picking fights with one another, and they’re picking on one another all of the time. Or maybe they’re constantly arguing with you.

Now, if you have kids, chances are, you have experienced some version of this scenario. But if not, I want to remind you that this kind of interaction doesn’t just have to be with kids. Maybe it’s miscommunication with your partner. Maybe you are on each other’s nerves. Or maybe you’re having disagreements about how this thing or that thing should be done.

Wherever it is that you are feeling that bit of tension, the first strategy I invite you to practice involves looking inward a little bit.

Look Inward

So first of all, ask yourself: What is it they’re doing? And then ask yourself what you think they “should” be doing instead. 

Next, after you answer those questions, then ask, why do you want them to do it this way? Why should they do it your way instead of theirs? 

And then, I want you to ask yourself this very important question. Do not skip this question. I invite you to ask yourself: “What do I make it mean about ME when they don’t behave this way?” 

Because so often, when our kids, or our partner, or our parents, or are friends, don’t do something the way we want them to, we make it mean something about us. And I’ll give you an example in just a second to put things into perspective. But please, don’t skip this step. 

And then once you identify what it is you’re making their behavior mean about you, ask yourself – is this true? Can I be absolutely sure this is true?

Okay. So let’s play this out. How does this look in a “real life” situation?

Annoyed with your partner

Well, let’s say that you are feeling annoyed with your partner because they aren’t helping out with cooking meals. Everybody is at home eating three meals a day, it seems like you never leave the kitchen, and you think that he should split the job 50/50 with you. 

Now, of course, this is just an example. So you put in your own situation here. But I will just talk through this example to show you how the exercise plays out. 

All right, so we’ve identified what your partner is doing or in this case, is not doing. Now, ask yourself what should they be doing instead? 

In this situation, you might say: he should help out half the time with preparing meals and doing the dishes. He should do this without me having to ask him. And he should willingly help plan the meals and make the grocery orders as well.

Okay, so we know what he’s doing. We know what you expect him to be doing. And already, you can see where this frustration is coming from. Because again, we’re arguing with reality. We say that he should be helping out 50% of the time. But he’s not. So if you’ll terrible.

Please don’t misunderstand me

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t ask him to help. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ask him to help. I just want to walk through what I know to be a very common scenario for many of us right now to help you understand how your thoughts about that scenario make you feel. So our scenario is that our partner is not helping out as we expect them to be. And when we think they should be, but they’re not, we’re arguing with reality. and that arguing feels awful.

Ask yourself why

So now that you know what he’s doing, and you’ve figured it out what you think he should be doing. Now it’s time to ask yourself why. Why do you think they should do it your way? 

So in this situation, you might say: he should help out because that’s what’s fair. He’s eating the food too. We’re in this together. He should want to help out. If I have to do it, he should too. Whatever the answer is for you.

What do you make it mean about you

And then, here comes the most important question you can ask yourself right now. What are you making this mean about you? What do you make it mean about you when he doesn’t help out 50% of the time? And allow yourself to answer this question honestly. 

When he doesn’t help out, do you make it mean that he doesn’t care about you? Do you make it mean that he doesn’t respect you and your time? Do you make it mean that he doesn’t think what you do is as important?

Spend some time in this question. What are you making that person’s behavior mean about you?

Is it true?

And then finally, the question that will help you relieve some of that tension is this: is that thought true? Is it true that because he is not helping out 50% of the time with meal prep and clean up that he doesn’t care about you? Because that is the story you’re telling yourself right now. That is where the frustration is coming from. 

When you think, he should be helping out 50% of the time, and since he doesn’t it means he doesn’t care about me, that’s what feels terrible. And I want you to ask yourself is this true? Does he really not care? And if your brain does say “yes, it is true.” Ask yourself again, can I be absolutely sure this is true? Can I prove it? Chances are, you can’t. And instead, you’re telling yourself a story that’s just causing you pain and frustration.

In fact, I love to find the opposite of this thought. How is it possible that he cares a lot? How does he show that he does care about you? Can you find that evidence, too? I bet you can.

And as a side note, this is an approach from Byron Katie. She uses it in all of her work, and it is incredibly powerful, so you haven’t looked into the work of Byron Katie before, I highly recommend it, and I recommend starting with her book Loving What Is.

Relieve the Tension

Now again, I’m not saying that this strategy is going to resolve all of your problems. I’m not saying that when you ask yourself this handful of questions, that it’s going to miraculously make your partner eagerly jump in and make dinner and do the dishes. 

However, when you look inward, and you understand what it is that you’re making their behavior mean about you, then you can truly question that thought. And even more importantly, you get to decide on purpose whether you want to keep believing it. And you can decide how you want to act. 

In other words, you won’t be acting out of frustration or pain, and you can be more intentional about how you want to show up. You can decide whether or not you want to make a request of your partner, and you can decide on purpose what you want to make their behavior mean whether or not they comply with your request.

Because again, you cannot control the other humans. You can’t force them to do anything. But once you can accept that reality, and you learn let it go, and you realize that their behavior doesn’t mean anything about you, things feel a little less tense.

Grab Your Session

And again, I know that this is a big topic. I know that this is a lot to take in. So if these ideas are challenging or you’re sitting on the other side of this podcast arguing with me right now, I encourage you to hop onto my website, and sign up for a call with me. We will talk through your unique situation. And I promise we’ll get you looking at it a little bit differently. We will help you relieve some of that tension, and help you decide how you want to think and feel going forward.

Getting Another Perspective

Now the next strategy that I want to share with you focuses on looking at the situation through another lens. So rather than turning inward as we did with the previous example, now we’re turning outward and trying to see the situation from their perspective. 

So with this situation, you’re going to ask yourself questions like: “what’s going on for them?” “Why might they be acting this way?” “Is it possible that they have a good reason for doing or saying that?” “What are they thinking and feeling right now?”

Because by opening up our minds to different perspectives and trying to understand their story and their unique situation, it once again relieves some of that frustration. And it allows us to be more intentional about how we want to show up. 

So let’s play this one out as well.

Fighting kids

Let’s say you’re feeling really frustrated with your two kids who are arguing all the time. They aren’t interested in any of the activities or games you suggest that they play, and all they want to do is play video games. And again, feel free to put in your own situation here, though, from the messages I’ve received recently, I have a feeling this one might resonate with some of you.

So we could absolutely use our other strategy in this scenario. We could ask ourselves what we think our kids should be doing instead. We can ask why we want them to do it our way. And we can consider what we are making their current actions mean about us.

Consider the other perspective

But this time, I invite you to think about the scenario in your kid’s perspective. So it might look like this: 

What’s going on for my kids right now? Why might they be acting this way? Well, they’re both at home from school in a very unusual situation. They’re both missing their friends and their regular routine. They haven’t been able to go to their sports practices. And they’re probably feeling a little bit frustrated, a little bit confused, and a little bit bored as well. Maybe they even feel stir crazy. I guess when I think about it this way, it makes sense that they are picking fights with one another and want to escape into video games. I can see where they’re coming from.

Now, if the questions: What’s going on for my kids right now? Why might they be acting this way? don’t work for you, you can also approach it another way.

Instead, try saying to yourself: “I can absolutely understand why they’re acting this way. It makes sense because…” And then fill in the blank. 

So I can absolutely understand why they’re acting this way. It makes sense because they are stir crazy, they’re bored, they miss their friends, they want to go to their sports practices but they can’t. Plus, they’re around one another 24 hours a day, and they are taking out their restlessness on one another. Maybe nothing’s gone wrong here. Maybe they’re just siblings who are fighting right now. And sometimes that happens.

Again, don’t misunderstand me

Again, I’m not saying that you have to let them simply do what they want. You don’t have to let them keep fighting all the time. You don’t have to let them sit in front of their Switch 24 hours a day. And this is especially true because they are your children, and while we still technically can’t control them since they have free will, you can create rules and clear expectations with consequences. 

But again, when you have clarity and compassion toward their situation, you can speak to them at their level. You’re making decisions on how you talk with them and interact with them through love and understanding rather than frustration and anger. And as we talked about all the way back in episode 28, love is a choice, right? And in my opinion, showing up with love is always the best option.

Circumstances are Neutral

All right, so now let’s explore our third and final approach for this episode, which reminds us that circumstances are neutral.

And I love to use this practice when I am struggling with my thoughts about how I think larger groups of people or leaders behave either at the community, state, or national level.

And you can certainly use this approach for immediate family members or friends as well – it is equally as effective. But I personally love this approach when I have thoughts about people outside of my immediate circle when I have thoughts like: they are doing it wrong. They should be doing it this way. They shouldn’t be doing it that way.

And again, we all have these thoughts all of the time.


Right now, many of us have contrasting thoughts about the pandemic, right? People should be taking this pandemic more seriously. OR People shouldn’t be taking this pandemic so seriously. The government shouldn’t have so much control. The government should take MORE control. 

And regardless of what your beliefs are, we all have them. And when or fighting with what is. When we are fighting with reality, we find ourselves struggling with frustration and despair and hopelessness much more often.

And not surprisingly, those feelings usually aren’t helpful, because they feel terrible AND they often prevent us from showing up the way we want. They usually don’t inspire us to show up as our best selves.

Now, I can hear some of you saying right now: but Paula, there is clearly a right and wrong here. It is obvious that this idea or this approach or this strategy is wrong and my strategy is right. This belief is wrong and my belief is right.

But again, all of these things are thoughts. We are all just a bunch of humans walking around with thoughts in our heads. And when we ruminate in anger and frustration because we keep telling ourselves that this group of people or that group of people shouldn’t be acting this way, it feels terrible. It feels hopeless. You lose all of your power.

What can we do

Now, my suggestion might sound a little bit surprising. Because my suggestion is to stop arguing with reality and allow it to be how it is. 

Because once again, you can’t control what this leader or that leader does. You can’t control what this group of people or that group of people does. So sitting and stewing in that frustration and anger it’s not helpful. It’s not going to change how they’re acting and it’s not likely going to create good results for you either.

Make it neutral

But what if we treat their action as the neutral circumstance it is. Because believe it or not, their action is neutral. It’s not good or bad. And we know this because they think that their behavior is good and we think their behavior is bad. 

Who is right? 

Nobody. It is neutral.

The weather

And I’m going to step back a little bit and go to a slightly less charged emotional space to put this into perspective.

In fact, let’s go REALLY boring. Let’s think about the weather. As I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, it snowed about 4″ overnight. This circumstance is neutral. It’s not good or bad. 

I personally think it’s horrible. I was not happy about it. I’m ready for spring. But I can also tell you, that my neighbors across the street who are out playing in the snow and having a snowball fight, think the snow is amazing. And they love it. 

So who is right? Nobody. There is no right or wrong. The snow is neutral. It only depends on how we think about it.

And I promise you that the same is true with bigger issues as well.

Remove the emotional charge

And once we are able to take away some of that emotional charge. Once we are able to remove ourselves just slightly from believing that we are right and they are wrong. Once we are able to recognize that it is a neutral situation where two people have differing opinions, then we can move to the next step. And that next step is deciding on purpose how you want to show up in this situation.

Because just as we’ve talked about in the other two scenarios, if you are acting out of anger or righteousness or frustration, and all you can think about his proving that the other person is wrong, chances are you’re going to have a hard time showing up the way you want to.

But when you can step back and say, “okay, this is what happened. This is what that group of people did. It is neutral.” 

Then, you can ask yourself, what do I think about it? And how do feel about it? 

And taking it to the next level, you can move forward and ask yourself “how do I WANT to think and feel about it? What do I WANT to do about it? 

Because when you can step back and create that space, then you can decide on purpose with clarity rather than acting out of anger, annoyance, despair, or whatever it is you were feeling.

Let’s Talk

Now, I know that this is a lot of information coming at you all at once. And I know that these ideas can be a little bit mind bendy. And if you’re on the other side of this podcast arguing with me, you might consider giving this episode a listen one more time. 

In fact, I’ve heard from several of you that you like to listen and re-listen to some of these episodes when you’re presented with a totally new idea. And I love that. I think that’s phenomenal. 

Alternatively, if you find yourself arguing with me or if these ideas just don’t make sense, or if your unique situation doesn’t seem to fit into these scenarios, then I invite you to head to Sign up for a session with me, and we will work through your situation. We will identify where people are doing it wrong in your life. You will explore how you want to think and feel about this scenario. And we’ll get you moving forward.

I’m telling you guys, this is some deep work, but it’s everything. And when you can step back and start seeing everybody’s stories. And when you start developing that wider perspective of what’s going on, you start showing up the way you want to.

Again, please don’t hear me saying that you should simply sit back and say, “well, there’s nothing I can do. I might as well just let the world happened to me.” Because that’s not what I’m saying. 

If you have a strong belief. If you want to spread a message. Or if you want to make a statement or share a perspective, you should absolutely do that. But I’m telling you from personal experience, as someone who also has strong beliefs and opinions, that when you are able to share that perspective from a place of clarity. And when you can see all sides of the argument. You can show up with greater intention and awareness. You can express your viewpoints more clearly. And, you show up with the ability to bring even more good into the world.

2 thoughts on “How to Handle People When They’re Doing it Wrong”

  1. I absolutely love your example of the dishes and your partner. This is CGT to a tee! Coming to terms with how your thoughts are impacting your feelings and behaviour is the key to conquering negative thoughts.

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