Relationships 101 Week 2: How to Improve Your RelationshipOkee dokee then! How’d last week go? We had some interesting discussion on our web program forum, as the assignment really hit home for a few members. I love hearing how people are working with these tools and beginning to understand more about why things are the way they are and, most importantly, what to do to make things different. Last week, I ran you through a basic process of identifying what you’re really looking for and what criteria (definition) you would use to identify if those traits were present in someone you were considering for a friend, partner or a peer, etc. Then I asked you to consider yourself in relation to that list and identify as best you could, which of those traits you already embody and which need a little tweak in you in order to bring you up to the level of that person you seek as a friend or partner. The key point being, and this is key: You cannot reasonably expect anything from someone else that you are not first prepared to offer yourself. If you have identified some traits or actions in yourself that you are expecting of someone else but struggle to provide to yourself or others, that really is the first and most important place to begin. However, it might be hard to focus on those pieces in yourself that need a tweak when it feels like your relationship is so triggering. If you’re in a relationship now that you feel needs some help, I suggest this.
- Identify (through the use of the handouts attached to this article) if this relationship is abusive or if it is simply a typical, dysfunctional, co-dependent connection that truly can heal if both parties are willing.
- If the relationship is abusive, I suggest you remove yourself from it asap. If you and/or the other person involved really want the relationship to work, you will do what you need to do to become a healthy partner for the other, and if that doesn’t happen, you have much better things to do that be harmed emotionally, verbally or physically in any way. And in case you’re wondering, there is no way to be in an abusive situation without needing a coping strategy like using food, drugs, alcohol, or watching mega TV to numb you to the stress of the situation. So, recovery from your coping strategy requires that abusive relationships end.
- If the relationship isn’t abusive but is truly just misguided/co-dependent (e.g. you feel obligated to meet the other person’s needs and/or they yours, even if that creates resentment and a burden for either of you), don’t need to do anything yet within the relationship except to perhaps tell that person that you’re going to be doing a little work on your part (resist the natural temptation to suggest, hint or otherwise imply that the other person should do the same). Instead, get the tools and support you need (some one-on-one support, our web program, book, etc.) to make sure you’re doing your best with your side of the Healthy Traits (HT) list. Trust me, many relationship issues resolve when one person begins to behave the way they wish the other would. People typically are drawn towards the highest behaviour being modeled around them, they just need to be shown what that looks like and that it’s safe to do so. (That’s what I’m here for, and once you’ve identified some pieces you need to address in yourself, you will be providing that guidance naturally to others).