Close relationships make us happy. But how do we deal with relationships that are difficult? These can be relationships with our partners, family, friends, or work colleagues.
The biggest key to managing these types of relationships is to remember that other people cannot control our emotions. It is our own thoughts, that control our emotions.
The second thing to remember is that we cannot make other people change. Other adults get to do, think and feel whatever they want. We do not get to control them.
One of the things we often do when we are faced with difficult relationships, is become a victim. By this I mean we blame the other person and allow ourselves to feel helpless and out of control. Anytime we find ourselves saying “He/she did this to me” (or any version of this), we are using victim mentality, according to Brooke Castillo (The Life Coach School). When we use these types of statements, we are giving away all our power to the person who supposedly “did something” to us. We are allowing that person to be responsible for how we “feel”.
The most helpful and empowering thing we can do when we encounter a difficult relationship, is to do our own work. Here are some suggestions on how that might look.
- Notice what we are thinking and how that makes us feel. Focus on changing those thoughts that are not helpful. This will give us better feelings.
- Notice how we are showing up in the relationship. If we are thinking negative things about the other person (ie he is a jerk), this may cause us to behave in a way that we don’t like. For instance; being kind, calm and peaceful, might be important to us, but instead we end up being impatient and angry, around this person. Practice being the person we want to be, no matter how they behave.
- Make requests of the other person, but don’t allow their response to make us happy or sad. Try and see it from their point of view.
- When we communicate with this person, make sure we are open and honest, and not being a victim. Learn to communicate assertively, rather than aggressively, or passively.
- Give up any intention of trying to change the other person. Instead, try and find ways to work with them, or set healthy boundaries (if this is appropriate). If necessary, limit the amount of contact we have with this person.
If we are human, we are going to have difficult relationships with someone, at some time. Learning to see it as a challenge, that will help us grow into a better version of ourselves, is the most helpful and empowering thing we can do.
Written by Lynda Timperley Btch, Dip Psych, Cert Life Coaching
Acknowledgment: Brook Castillo, The Life Coaching School.