5 Tips for Dealing with Tough Relationships

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5 Tips for Dealing with Tough Relationships

Adapted from Monica and Michael Berg’s Spiritually Hungry podcast. Listen and subscribe here.
June 14, 2021
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Relationships are hard. Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, a coworker, or a relative, we’ve all had people that push us to our limit. They test our patience, get under our skin, and make us question all kinds of things about ourselves. As difficult as these relationships can be, there is a reason that they come into our lives, and there is a lot that we can gain from them.

Here are 5 tips for dealing with difficult relationships and how to use them in the most positive way possible:

  1. Search for patterns in your own behavior that need to be broken. Have you ever noticed how some people get out of one difficult relationship just to find themselves in another one that’s almost exactly the same? Maybe you quit your job because of an overbearing boss only to land a new job with a boss that is just as overbearing as the previous one. These patterns are not a coincidence.Whenever we notice the same scenario appearing in our lives over and over again, it’s a signal that we need to look closer at our own behavior. Maybe your boss seems so overbearing because you have a hard time standing up for yourself or speaking your mind. The cycle will not end until you make a change in yourself.

    Ask yourself, “What are the disappointments that I keep having in my relationships?” See if you notice a pattern or reoccurring theme. Take a step back and try to look at it objectively. There are always two sides of a relationship. Try to figure out what you could do differently to avoid this issue popping up again in the future.
  1. There is always something to be learned. Whenever we experience a tough relationship, our natural inclination is usually to blame the other person. And often, we are justified! They may have treated us poorly, hurt us, lied to us, or done any number of terrible things. But when we blame other people, we forget that there is still an opportunity for us to learn and grow from it.

    Even if you did absolutely nothing wrong in the relationship, there is still a lesson you can take away. Everything in your life is meant to help you learn, change, and become a better person. The question to ask yourself is, “How will I choose to grow from this experience?” 
  1. Be true to yourself. We often look to other people to fill a lack that we feel in our lives. Someone who is insecure about the way they look might seek a partner who will constantly reassure them they are beautiful. The downside to this is that it becomes that person’s job to make us feel better all the time. There becomes an expectation for the other person to “complete” us. In truth, that is far too heavy a burden to place on another person, and it will never work!

    Other people can love and support us and help us on our journey, but it’s up to each of us to work on ourselves – to grow, to learn, and to love ourselves as we are. Unless you are true to yourself, you can’t be true to your partner. Do you know what you want and what you don’t? Can you make yourself happy? 
  1. Look back with kindness. No matter how much someone has hurt us in the past, the only way that we can move forward with our lives is through forgiveness. Spending a life harboring pain, hatred, or anger only hurts you in the end.

    You can look back on the events of a relationship and recognize the other person made mistakes or did something that wasn’t right but still try to understand where they were coming from and try to find forgiveness. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you have to let that person back into your life if you don’t want to or that you merely sweep the situation under the rug, but it allows you to let go of the pain, learn the lessons you were meant to learn, and move forward with a new perspective. 
  1. Trust that this relationship was sent to you by the Creator. There is a perfect system created for each of us to help us grow in exactly the ways we need. Everything that comes in and out of our lives is only for our benefit, whether or not we can see it in the moment.

    To become the better person you are meant to become, there are going to be people that bring challenges into your life because you need those challenges in order to grow. Knowing this can help change the way we think of a “perfect” relationship. A perfect relationship is not one without any hardships but one that is perfectly designed to help us grow in all the right ways.

    Connect and recognize the inherent goodness within you. Know that you are destined for greatness and are worthy of all the blessings you receive. Every difficult relationship is a blessing from the Creator – an opportunity to completely change your life.

Not every relationship can be healthy and fulfilling, but even the most challenging ones can help us become better people. Relationships put all of our growth and spiritual work to the test. Are we really as patient as we think? As selfless? As non-judgmental? They shine a spotlight on things we didn’t even know about ourselves, and that’s why they are so important. Start viewing your relationships through the lens of what they can teach you about yourself and what you can learn from them, and see the difference it makes.


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