How To Manage Failed Relationships
“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” —George Bernard Shaw
Welcome back, class!
It’s Jordan checking in again to lead this lesson on how to manage failed relationships. As crass as Shaw’s quote seems, it is accurate in the case of toxic relationships. Sometimes we cross paths with people who just take it all out of us. There is always drama when they are around, and we find ourselves sucked into it. Lesson 10 is about recognizing and managing those failed relationships.
The Power of Compounding Relationships
As we learned in our networking course, the people we surround ourselves with have a phenomenal impact on our well-being. You are the average of the top five people you spend most of your time with. We all know the power of compounding interest: Invest a small sum of money and give it time to grow, and when you return, you should have much more money. The same can be said about compounding relationships. If you invest your time with good people, then they will repay your time with love, encouragement, and personal growth, which will make you a stronger person over time. Conversely, if you spend your time with negative people, then they will repay your time with despair, self-doubt, and stifled personal growth.
So, why do we choose to spend time with people who have negative impacts on our lives?
Understanding Why We Remain in Failed Relationships
There are several reasons we stay in failed relationships:
We are people-pleasers. From early in childhood, working as a team is prioritized over individuality. This can become a slippery slope of lost boundaries and the inability to say “no,” and we end up staying in bad situations out of fear of hurting someone else’s feelings.
We fear the unknown. Many times, we haven’t spent much time alone or have only been in relationships that are unhealthy. We, therefore, don’t even know what it’s like to be in healthy relationships. The fear of the unknown is what then drives us to stay in our toxic situation. We think to ourselves that “a known hell is better than the unknown.”
We believe that we are flawed. Sometimes we stay in bad relationships because we believe that we are flawed. This is when that imposter voice comes in and lies to us, telling us that it is better to stay in unhealthy relationships because if we are around better people, then they may see us for who we “really” are.
Using the Relationship Journal to Diagnose and Repair Failed Relationships
The easiest way to spot a failed relationship and diagnose the situation is to use the relationship section in your bounce back journal.
Chronicle and analyze your relationships by asking yourself the following questions:
• How do I feel after I interact with the person? Do I feel energized or exhausted? If you feel exhausted each time you deal with this person, it’s your body telling you that this person is not good for you.
• Does this person genuinely love and support me? Is it the support I need? Do they encourage me to grow as a person? If the person is happy with your success and celebrates your victories, you’re around someone who is positive. If they don’t and they make you second-guess your progress, you’re around a negative person.
• Is this person related to me by blood, and have they ever used that as an excuse to treat me poorly? Remind yourself that if it is a blood relationship, then their behavior is a sign of their lack of love and respect for you as a person. Someone in your family constantly hurting you is not really family.
Strategies to Repair or Exit a Failed Relationship
You should consider your relationships carefully: how they might be improved or even whether they are worth preserving.
Affirm your self-worth. Tell yourself, “I deserve to be in healthy relationships that provide me with love and support.” Repeat it every day because it’s true.
Set boundaries. Provide the negative person with feedback regarding how you wish to be treated. If they are capable of being positive, then they will recognize your value, apologize for their disrespect, and change their behavior accordingly. If they are truly negative, then they will attack you and blame you for being selfish. If they agree to change but continue to violate your boundaries, then it’s time to move on.
Make a soft goodbye. If you cannot be direct with the person or you have tried to the best of your ability but have not been able to make the relationship work, then make an excuse to be unavailable and minimize contact with the person. Slowly stop responding to their requests of you. This sets expectations that you aren’t available to serve as their emotional pillow. Note that while this is not an ideal strategy, it is the best that you can do before you learn how to better manage these kinds of relationships. Make a note that you are using this crutch for now and want to improve in this area in the future.
Meet new people and set realistic expectations. It will take time to make new friends, and not everyone you meet will be your cup of tea (or be a perfect match). But that’s okay. You need to cast a wide net so you don’t rigidly define what a perfect relationship will be. You have to accept that this will take time, but it’s the most important thing you can do to bring positive people into your life. Look at yourself as a gold miner. For most swings of the pickaxe, you’ll only find rocks. But every once in a while, you’ll find a gold nugget that makes up for everything else.
1. Open your bounce back journal and start diagnosing your relationships.
2. If you find negative people in your journal, then it’s time to decide if you will try to repair those relationships or make your exit by using the strategies above.
That’s it for now. Our next lesson is our last lesson together, and it will be about embracing your fate.
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