How to Make Changes in Your Relationships - Part 2
Last week I wrote about how to kindly and assertively ask for what you need. I want to continue the discussion on how to make changes in your relationships. I’m referencing all types of relationships, and so these tips are not specific to any type of relationship. These tips are meant to continue your work on living in line with your values and how to make those changes in your relationships. Maybe you’ve had a chance to try having a healthy conversation and start to outline your concerns, wants, or needs in the relationship. These tips are meant to build on that progress.
Have a conversation on vulnerability and sharing openly
In order to be your authentic self and live in line with your values within a relationship, open and vulnerable communication is a must. Both people in the relationship need to feel respected and safe to share whatever is on their mind: concerns, criticisms, wants, needs, desires, insecurities etc. It is through these open and vulnerable conversations that real growth happens in the relationship. It’s imperative that both people commit to being vulnerable and open, and providing a safe place for the other person to do so as well.
Talk, talk, and keep on talking!
As with any new behavior, we become more comfortable with new behaviors the more we do them. Commit to regular conversations about how each is feeling about the relationship. If it is a business or romantic relationship, have regularly scheduled check ins so each person can talk about how they feel things are going.
Get professional help
If you’ve tried multiple times to have open conversations with this person and they are refusing to participate or are not willing to try to communicate in healthy ways, then you may need professional help. Whether it is a romantic partnership, business partnership, a friend or family member, some therapists are specifically trained to mediate.
Making the choice to end the relationship
Sometimes people are unwilling to respect our boundaries, or are not able to prioritize the relationship to make it healthy. If you have done everything you can on your end to communicate your thoughts and feelings, set boundaries, and have made attempts at facilitating open communication and nothing has changed, it may be time to re-evaluate if this relationship is healthy for you to remain in. Sometimes this is an easy decision, sometimes it is a hard decision. But ultimately, your self-respect, self-worth, and living in line with your values is what is going to help you be happy and healthy long term.
In some cases we may decide not to end the relationship but to change how we view the relationship. For example, relationships with family members may fall in this category. Let’s say you’ve been trying to have a healthier relationship with your sibling but they are not hearing your boundaries or are unwilling to change. With family it may be hard to cut off the relationship completely, but you can do your own work in order to view the relationship in a different manner. This takes accepting that this person is unwilling or incapable of change, and also accepting that this relationship will never be what you want it to be. This is a hard thing to do, but can be extremely freeing when you let go of expectations and attachment to this relationship. If you notice that you still have resentment towards this person after trying to accept and detach from them, writing a therapeutic letter could be very helpful. A therapeutic letter is a letter you write but do not give to the person. It allows you to release anger and resentment without actually saying the words to them. I also recommend an additional step if this is a particularly emotional experience. The next step is to write a letter to yourself from this person, expressing everything you would like to hear from them in an ideal world. This can help to reduce some of the anger and resentment. Give it at try!
Stay healthy and well and reach out anytime!