Copyright Dennis Mitton

Broken Relationships?

On the heels of my last post about changing your mind, this week I wondered why we live with broken things and, then, why we live with things that don’t work the way they are intended to. Those are easy fixes if we’re talking about pencils or cabinet doors or cars. But what about important things? What to do when you begin to think that your faith doesn’t work? What does it even mean to have a relationship that doesn’t work the way it’s intended? I’m not sure but know that many people walk around feeling that something is amiss with their friends, family, or loved ones. Or maybe it’s you? Maybe you have expectations that are unrealistic? Maybe you are mean or you aren’t ready to be in a relationship? You’ll have to work this out for yourself.

These are weeds to traipse through on your own. Others can help but be aware that your good intentioned friend might have nary a clue about what they are talking about. That goes for any recommendation from me, too.  I can’t help you here but do have a few thoughts to guide you.

A Few thoughts:

Forgive much. And don’t confuse forgiveness with acceptance or forgetting. When we forgive, we lose another person’s control over us. But it doesn’t mean that we have to trust that person or like what they have done. It’s akin to the pot smoking relative who wonders why you won’t let them pick up your child to go to their home to play with theirs. It’s an easy metric. You hold no grudge against them for smoking but it doesn’t mean that you have to turn a blind eye to the danger that they put your child in when driving. Forgiving doesn’t mean being stupid.

Think about what you are grateful for. Some folks write a gratitude journal and it seems that the physical act of writing is a useful tool to get our brain going. But even if you just take a minute each day to think about it, this focus on thankfulness is good for your outlook. And it’s okay to be thankful for your journey or for who you are today. It’s a good place to start. Some ideas for a gratitude journal here.

Be careful with your self-talk. We invent much of our reality with the on-going story that we tell ourselves over and over in our minds. If your focus is on the negative, then you should expect more negative as you’re training your brain to focus on it. If you look for more of the positive, then, by default,  your outlook improves. There is no magic here. A sage said “You find what you are looking for” and it’s rarely more true than with relationships.

Learn to listen. I’m bad at this. Learn to close the yapper until the other person is done talking. Learn not to think about how you will respond to them until they are done talking. Then take a minute to think before you talk. It takes longer, but be patient.

We probably can’t hear it enough: trying to change another person is almost always a fool’s errand.

Work on yourself first. When you are secure and settled in who you are then you might not need the people around you to change and you can start enjoying them for who they are.

I have a secret affair with Dr. Daniel Amen of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life fame. I discovered him after I had a traumatic brain injury by being hit by a car when I was on a bicycle training ride, and find his advice useful and his writing comfortable and accessible. I recommend his One Page Miracle. It’s understated genius, really. Your life is divided up into four sectors with a total of fourteen categories. For each category, you define what perfect looks like in your life. Then, when things arise, as they will, ask yourself, “Will my action bring me closer to my goal?” Then make a decision based on what moves you closer to what you want. What could be easier??


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