How To Deal With Challenging Relationships
“I have a ‘friend.”
She’s combative. Cutting. Once we had commonality but now… She’s the kind of friend that walking away from the party you feel kinda… sober.
Or driving home—you don’t even realize it—but find yourself thinking… ‘Why don’t I feel so great?’
And then it clicks. ‘Ohhh. She was being an asshole.’
Maybe this resonates with you?
Because truth be told this is a HUGE topic of conversation in my coaching world. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re single or married—Ladies, at our time of life, we’re thinking about cleaning house…
We ALL want to be surrounded by real, authentic human beings who aren’t pretentious, don’t expect us to be Superwoman—but do boost us up…
Yet, we’ve tolerated certain relationships for far too long.
So, what can you do about it?
Well, there are 5 methods for managing draining relationships.
(But the truth is, most people retreat to #1…)
- Remain a victim to it
- Change it
- Change perspective of it
- Accept it
- Leave it
Let’s unpack these a little…
1. Remain a Victim To The Relationship
In other words, continue to allow this relationship to drain you. This most likely includes a feeling of loss of control, powerlessness, uncontrolled anger, grief and depression. Worst case scenario? It’ll keep draining us till nothing is left.
- What is blocking my willingness to change this relationship?
- If I’m not willing to change the relationship at this point, what’s my target timeline for re-evaluation?
2. Change The Relationship
Here we recognize that you can take proactive action to change the relationship (or some aspect of it) so that you can remain in it and benefit from it.
For example, you may find a common point of agreement that enables the relationship to continue—at least at a neutral level—releasing and reconciling differences, developing coping mechanisms, or taking action from higher levels of energy in order to shift the energy of others and yourself.
Ways you can do this:
- Resolve/repair conflict
- Create opportunities to grow and experience life together
- Connect with the bigger picture of the relationship
Ask yourself, why is this relationship important? What’s your common ground? And how can you both benefit from being in the relationship?
3. Change Perspective of It
Rather than changing the relationship with actions and new behaviors, a relationship can also be changed through modifying and shifting how we look at it. The bottomline here? Different ‘lenses’ bring different experiences.
Ask yourself, how can you look at this draining and/or challenging relationship with a fresh pair of eyes?
And consider this…
- What qualities do you appreciate in the other person—and how can you stay connected to this?
- How can you see the other person from a new vantage point?
- How can you experience the relationship from a different position?
*This strategy can also be very effective with past relationships that are still emotionally charged within you, despite the relationship being over or currently non-existent.
(Think a painful divorce or even a deceased individual. In either case you could be so wracked by pain and guilt that you’re having a hard time moving forward.)
4.Accept The Relationship
Here, you suspend judgment, stress and burden associated with the relationship. You are accepting it just as it is… and ‘as it is’ is okay. The relationship requires nothing but acceptance of peace for this moment in time.
3 Strategies to Consider:
- The use of centering techniques
- Daily mantras
- Other self-help techniques to enhance your ability to remain stress free when engaged in this challenging relationship (i.e. physical reminders, knowing your limits, or minimizing duration of time spent alone with the person in question)
The key is to find whatever it takes to help you remain in the relationship—and not feel drained by it.
5. Leave The Relationship
If you don’t like the relationship and you cannot/will not remain in it…
Or you’ve tried to change the way you look at it (and can’t) then your remaining option is to leave. Or terminate it. Respect the other person, and yourself as human beings and know that sometimes we cannot co-exist.
There is no judgment necessary. This is not good or bad—it simply is.
- How ready are you to leave?
- What is your plan to transition out of the relationship?
* If you are less than 100% ready to leave, develop plans to shift your readiness, or reconsider your strategy.
And finally, here’s a simple truth that might help you to visualize…
There are 3 types of friends. The ones you keep in the kitchen, the ones on the front porch, and the ones you keep out on the street.
So, what’s the difference?
Well, your kitchen is the heart of the house. They’re your nearest and dearest…
Those on the front porch—we’ll keep them at arm’s length. But if nurtured and cultivated, maybe they too could be welcomed with open arms…
And those on the street? We’ll keep it lighthearted. ‘Hey how are you?’ (No need for anything more…)
But why am I telling you this?
Because if you’re reading this, I’d wager at this point in your life… you’re seeing things differently.
Maybe what once seemed to work for you—isn’t. Perhaps even back then you didn’t realize this wasn’t an ideal relationship, but you just kinda sucked it up…
And now you’re tired of sucking it up.
And finally, how did I resolve my difficult friendship?
I’ve accepted it. I keep her on the street. It’s not gonna get any better than this—that’s not who she is.
And I use the presence of others as buffers…
P.S. Consider taking some time this month to examine your relationships more closely…
Ask yourself, how do key relationships in your life affect your spirits? Are they raising you up or dragging you down? What can you do to foster ‘healthier’ relationships?
Contact me today for a complimentary session, and together we can strategize on how to maximize ALL your relationships…