Pretend for a moment that you’re a judge on a new reality television show called Relationship Idol. One by one, all the people you have a relationship with come up the mic, but instead of singing, they stand there and look at you. REALLY look at you. And you REALLY look at them. Then the video montage of your lives together start playing up on the big screen behind them. Maybe there is much laughter or lots of tears. At the end of your video, it’s your turn. What about it? Is it good enough? Is your relationship healthy or harmful? Does it make your stomach sour just looking at that person? Then you must rule on it. Foster it or forget it. At the very least GET REAL that it may not be the way you want it to be. Our plan is not to CHANGE them, but to look at changing ourselves (if need be) and being honest about what’s working and what’s not.
Certainly the boundaries are different based on the type of relationship we’re discussing, but that doesn’t mean every relationship that impacts our life shouldn’t go under this scrutiny – and that means closely examining what WE are bringing to the relationship. It takes two. We may teach each other how to treat us, but how are we treating others? Like a punching bag? Emotional life support? Do we just unload on them and never ask them how THEY are doing? Are we fair? Are we kind?
This week, let’s illuminate the relationships in our lives and see what happens.
EMPLOYEES (IF YOU’RE THE BOSS)
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Do you need to foster them? What would need to happen for the relationship to improve? Are they positive or negative? Are you extendings acts of kindness OUTSIDE OF THESE relationships, but not WITH them? Do you judge them more harshly? Are you being a good listener? (Technology down!) How is your eye to eye contact? Body language? What key words come from your conversations? Is it one sided? Angry? Abusive?
What can YOU do – talk more, talk less, be honest? Do you need to put SPACE for YOU? Are they emotional vampires, always sucking the lifeblood our of your day and never giving you any support? Or are you doing that to someone?
This week, I had a great (but sad) reminder that some relationships are not meant to be. Perhaps the other person needs counseling or you just aren’t a “fit” but whatever the reason, honor yourself and the other person by getting real about it. If you’re going back to the same well, don’t expect different water to come out of it. We all grow at different rates and sometimes that means they may leave us behind or we need to leave them behind.
Once we’ve noted our feelings, we can engage in conversations with them about it. If it’s that you love them and want to spend more time with them, schedule that! I know this is tough and I have no expertise on this other than to say, look at it and make a plan. Seek help if you need to and let’s make 2014 the year we get real about all the relationships in our lives.
I adore all things Martha Beck, so check out her site and blog on relationships and family here.