Our relationships with the people in our lives are at the root of every challenge in our lives.
Our relationships with others play a significant role in our happiness. How do we improve those relationships and overcome adversity in our relationships?
We simply decide.
When we think about our relationships with others, the “relationship” itself is never really truly defined. What comprises our relationships with others?
I believe that our relationships with others is self-created. Our relationship with other people is something that lives only in our minds. We make decisions about other people. We choose what we want to think about them. From that place we characterize the relationship–good, bad, challenging, irreparable, complete. We make those decisions and “create” the relationship within ourselves. Completely independently of the other person.
Think about it. Have you ever had someone in your life whose understanding of your relationship was completely out of line with your understanding? Think about your former boyfriends or girlfriends. When that relationship ended it is unlikely that you were both in complete agreement about its demise. What is more likely is that one of you thought things were going fine and that nothing needed to change and the other thought the relationship had run its course.
How can it be that two people have such divergent understanding about the same relationship?
Because there is no singular relationships that is shared and agreed upon by both parties.
There are two different relationships as understood by each person. Each person made unique decisions about the relationship’s virtues and drawbacks and interpret the relationship from that perspective.
If that is the case, then it follows that we can simply choose whether or not to have a good relationship with each person in our lives.
We can simply decide whether to believe a relationship has run its course or whether we are in it for the long haul. We simply have to decide.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean that you SHOULD maintain all the relationships in your life or that you should always choose to love the people in your life. You can choose to break up with spouses, friends, and family members if that is your choice. But what I am saying is that there is no inherent “good” or “bad” relationship — we make choices to characterize a relationship one way or the other. We simply have to determine our justification for those choices.
If you want to believe that your boss is a terrible human being who is overly critical, insecure, and passive aggressive, that is your choice. From there you can decide that you don’t want to work at that job anymore or ask for a transfer. But the point is recognizing that you are choosing to think of your boss and your relationship with your boss in that way. It is not inherently true. There is room for dispute and disagreement in your characterization of him.
There is no such thing as just having a “bad boss” as if that were the justification for your poor relationship with your boss.
You are simply choosing to focus your energy on criticisms and judgments of your boss and interpret the relationship through that lens. You could similarly choose to focus on the positive aspects of the relationships or see him through a lens of compassion.
The choice is yours. You can choose to have a good relationship with your boss and operate from that space. That choice will likely require you to see him with more compassion and less judgment than you have in the past. That will require you to stop believing that he is inherently bad and you are a victim.
Take ownership of the relationships in your life and choose how you want to think about them.
Choose what you want to believe about your past relationships and challenging relationships.
Your opinions about others and your relationship with them are not factual. They are your opinions and nothing more. Those opinions will color how you show up in the relationship and the aspects of the relationship you focus on.
If you want to believe that you have a horrible boss and therefore have to leave your job, so be it. But imagine how much you could grow and the skills you could develop if you could learn how to see the relationships differently. If you could choose to believe that you have a good relationship with your boss and act from that place instead?
If you want to have a horrible boss, believing that you do is an assured way to get you that experience. If you want to have a boss that challenges you and helps you become a better employee, the first step is believing that you do and acting from that place instead; interpreting your experience through that lens instead. Give it a try.
What will it get you if I’m right? What will it cost if I’m not?
Most of the time it is our experiences with other humans that brings most of life’s challenges as well as its high points. Don’t let a “bad” relationship go without first experiencing what it has to teach you about yourself.
If you need some (free) support with a challenging relationship, I would love to visit with you. The work we do with other humans is truly life changing.
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