Man and woman in conflict

Transforming Challenging Relationships

All of us at one time or another feel stuck, at a loss for how to make a relationship work better. This can be in a work situation, or in a personal relationship; the principles are the same. We can feel hurt, used, victimized, angry, or disconnected. The other person is not doing what we expected! If only they would pull their due, not fool around, and change into a nice person! What happened to that warm feeling we used to have when we first got to know one another?

Blame, regret, guilt, anger and remorse keep us stuck in a self-centered downward spiral that can mean the end of a meaningful relationship. If we allow our minds to get stuck in the endless loop of criticism, there can seem to be no way out. But there are simple ways to step off this dead end path and start fresh.

The first step is to think about the situation from the other person’s perspective. Do we know all the challenges in their life that could be impacting the situation, like health issues, family concerns, fears about money, patterns from childhood, or expectations from others? What might be pushing their buttons and making the situation difficult for them? Really think about what it would be like to be in their shoes. Then try to be them. Everyone thinks and feels differently, some being intuitive, others being logical, some are extroverts while others prefer to let others do the talking. What does the situation feel like through the eyes and heart of the other person, through their sensibilities? Deeply reflecting about the situation from the other’s perspective can be eye opening.

We also can take ownership of our own actions. Sometimes we may have acted harshly, said unkind words that hurt, or did nothing when the other person sorely needed support. It takes two people to have a conflict, and we need to honestly accept and own our share of the situation. Yes, the other person may have pushed our buttons, but those were our buttons and we had a choice as to how to react.

When we are in a conflict we feel constricted, compressed, perhaps feeling no way out. Watch out if you begin to self medicate with food, alcohol, or over work, for they just make matters worse. Instead simple relaxation exercises can really help to open back up and feel some space. Getting outside in nature, enjoying some fresh air, and exercising, can help a lot. Meditations that help us reconnect with a feeling of spaciousness and openness can be wonderful and powerful ways to dissolve the endless loop of negative thoughts. Simply sitting by the sea or a running stream, feeling the breeze on our face can help us shed our old pain and become refreshed and more open again.

Once we have space we can take the all important step of forgiveness, both for ourselves and the other. With true forgiveness, we can offer our apology for our words or actions that may have caused pain. Saying we are sorry has an incredible power to heal everyone involved.

These simple steps of expanding our view to see the world from the other person’s perspective, owning our actions, discovering a greater spaciousness, and offering forgiveness, have great power and capacity to heal. We all can take charge of our lives and make constructive steps to create positive, rewarding relationships. What’s stopping you from trying them?