Tag Archives: relationships

Taking Responsibility for the Relationships In Your Life

ScoldingThe definition of insanity, or stupidity (I can’t recall which) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I, at times, suffer from this. I am self-aware enough to realize it so maybe I’m not insane or stupid but simply a perpetual Pollyanna? Recent events in my life and around me have caused me to reflect, again, on how people in your life can effect you, from the most casual of online acquaintances to the most keenly bonded relationships.

I like to think of myself as a pragmatic optimist and so eventually I always have to back away from my optimism in a negative situation and assess. It’s important in life to realize that we cannot change other people; we can only change ourselves. If something keeps happening to you over and over again you can either whine, bemoan everyone else’s stupidity, or you can ask yourself: “why do I attract this to myself?” Once it becomes your responsibility and something you did or created or attracted it suddenly becomes a problem that is solvable rather than a perpetual source of anxiety. In the instance of someone in your life that continually reflects back negativity you have to ask yourself what about you draws that? Are you being negative? Are you too defensive? Perhaps you open yourself up to perpetual criticism because you feel inadequate in yourself?

This swings me to my other character defect: wanting to fix everything. Much as I can take responsibility for the things that happen in my life, and then do something about creating better results and situations, is equally important to understand that some things, like the weather and tides, cannot be changed. If you find, after careful self-examination, that you have taken all the steps you can to ensure the most positive results it’s time to step back. I don’t mean you should resume the blame game however. I can’t foresee every possible problem and ensure that it doesn’t come up and disturb the glass-like surface of the sea on a calm day I would like to create in the world around me. Waves happen. There are Tsunamis. When such events occur in your life it’s time to get out the surfboard and ride it out.

But you don’t have to ride out bad behavior when it comes to people. The people in our lives are there by our choice. People, as much as events, influence us. We can’t always choose our family ties, but we can pick our friends. If you have a friend or acquaintance that always seems to be drawing bad feelings to you through their criticisms or dramas it’s time to assess their true value to you in your life. Some people just do not add value. Don’t allow people around you who continually make you feel bad. Healthy criticism is one thing. Harping discontent is quite another. Family is one area where I often endure more than I would from people not related, but even within the family boundaries must be drawn. Even there you have to state your position and require good behavior, or possibly, in the end, withdraw. Even with your family you do have a choice, even if at times that choice is a painful one to make.

Again it’s not about blaming. It’s about taking responsibility. If there is a person in your life that brings you bad feelings or continually causes disruptions it’s not about blaming them. It’s about asking yourself why you allow them to behave in negative ways towards you? If you have clearly stated your boundaries and they still ignore your needs, then why are they in your life at all? Some people may require interventions, others just a good talking to, and some you might just need to brush off like mosquitoes, but it’s all still about the choices you make in your life. As long as you know you have done what you can to right the balance and take responsibility for your actions, you can feel free to remove those negative influences, maybe once and for all.

Start Some Slow Connections

Four days into my resolution to go slower in my life, take a little more time over my actions, and chew experience like it was a meal by Bobby Flay, I’m seeing only the most intangible of results, and yet… I do feel better. I seem to be just a bit more relaxed, and just a little less stressed. As a result that is highly desirable, but, of course, like with anything I want more. I’m not beating myself over the head for my lack of writing, instead focusing on the positives that I have achieved by taking tasks one bite at a time.

The biggest obstacle is going slower at work. Around me my coworkers are rush rush rushing while their clients rush even faster; everyone falling all over themselves to get more done, seem more efficient, get onto the next task. With the bathwater of apparent inefficiency goes the baby of connection. Exchanges are superficial. Even evaluations tend to quick catch phrases that are modern shorthand to get to the emotional heart of something without actually doing the foundation work that should proceed it. Things get broken; other things get neglected. Sometimes what gets neglected is anything meaningful at all. We’re not on this planet to provide services or sell things. We’re here to live each our single life and hopefully in the course of that life achieve an experience of richness through our personal achievements and meaningful relationships.

You can’t have a meaningful relationship with a person in a quick and hurried uber-efficient conversation or in a five second tweet. I’m not suggesting that every client, every customer, every time you pump gas, that you stop and make friends, but certainly with those people that you touch throughout your day, day after day whether it be family, coworkers, village, or just your tribe, that you take it slow, savor it a little, and by doing so making some connections that can enrich your life and your work.

And don’t worry about the time wasted. Once you truly take everything slower with more focus there will be less time wasted, less mistakes and mishaps, and less time spent cleaning up the split milk. By slow I mean deliberate.