Moving from Relationship Stress with Relationship Strategies
By Dwight Bain
Relationships, we all have them and we all need them.
So why does it seem so hard to find healthy ones?
Simple, we all are different, and those differences either make for a wonderful “blending” of people and personalities, or are the basic ingredients of a major war! Since none of us have time for more stress from OPP… (other people’s problems), and everyone is longing for the best relationship possible, here are some quick tips to help you have healthier relationships.
First, start with you. Are you taking responsibility to deal with the major issues in your life? For instance, if you know that you have a short temper, take ownership of your anger before you begin to look for another group of friends or family that will just “put up” with your behavior. Scripture teaches to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “be slow to anger” so let’s start with looking into the mirror of our souls to see what needs attention. Once you see it, get busy working on you.
Next, after you have taken bold steps to face your fears and doubts, you should actually sit down and evaluate your current relationships. I suggest that you begin to list out the people in your life in a series of layers of connection. Start with those closest to you, whether parent, child or family relationship, dating or marriage partner boss or co-workers, as well as your spiritual relationship with God. Pay attention to the strengths of the relationship as well as the areas that may need improvement. As you sort through these issues and begin to identify key issues it will open up your eyes toward possible strategies to begin using to get better results.
Using a detailed action plan allows you to make better decisions about which relationships are working well and meeting needs in your life, as well as to openly identify the people who seem to be a “bottom-less pit” of irresponsible behavior. I’ve seen times when someone was being run over by the people closest to them and they just didn’t seem to ‘see it’ until they listed it out on paper. (Sort of life sitting down to do a budget for the first time to see where all the money goes). Sometimes you have to toughen up and set firm boundaries if you ever hope to move toward a healthy relationship in the future. Remember the old saying, “love has limits” as you take bold action to prevent out of control or unhealthy behavior from repeating and stealing the joy out of your life or the quality of life at home.
Brace yourself for a shock because there are times that this evaluation process will reveal tremendous problems inside your own home that you have wanted to deny or avoid taking action on. Seeing those problem people listed out by name in writing sometimes is the catalyst that it takes to move forward to seek the help of a trained relationship professional or licensed counselor. (go to www.lifeworksgroup.org for more information on dealing with difficult relationships).
Next prioritize the key relationships in your life, so that the ones that are a source of your support and emotional strength are regularly nurtured and developed. Too often we take our daily relationships for granted, and spend too much time reaching out to others. Better to spend our emotional energy on staying close to the healthy and responsible people that God has given us than to lose even more time trying to change someone who doesn’t want to do anything except argue with you. Investing in family and friends or by reaching out to peers in your neighborhood, work or church environment is a better choice than waiting on the people who seem to always wound or abandon us.
It won’t be easy to try to move from stress to stronger relationships, or to set limits with the difficult people in your life, but it’s worth the effort because the payoff is huge! I challenge you to build some healthy relationship that very well might bring back a great return and connection you for decades. Sounds like a great trade for now and an even better trade as you consider building relationship connections spiritually to last forever.
Dwight Bain Bio:
Author, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in