First Aid for Damaged Relationships

August 5, 2015

 

Relationships can be trying. Whether they’re romantic, friendly or familial, relationships can be a huge source of stress and anxiety, and maintaining them can seem like an utter waste of time when the going gets tough.

 

Sometimes, you get fed-up with your parents and it seems that you argue more than you talk. Sometimes, you wonder why you’re friends with certain people, because they seem to bring more drama than joy to your life. Sometimes, you wonder how you ever thought you and your significant other were “meant to be together” when just being in the same room as them makes you feel suffocated.

 

Human beings are social creatures and our relationships are what make life exciting and worthwhile. Though negative beliefs and bad experiences can make us feel quite anti-social, we need relationships - both friendly and romantic - to be happy.

 

 

First Aid for Damaged Relationships

 

Just like everything else in life, relationships are subject to wear and tear - the intensity of your first initial attraction fades, or you stop communicating the same way you used to, and one day the relationship just seems like more effort than it's worth.

 

But think about it like this: you’re not going to cut your hand off just because you’ve got a paper-cut and there’s no reason to give up on a relationship or cut someone out of your life just because you’ve got some issues.

 

Disclaimer: There are some relationships that should be cut out of your life. Abusive or toxic relationships are dangerous for both your mental and physical health.

 

Most of the time, bad relationship juju can be attributed to one of two things:

  • Lack of communication

  • Focusing on the negatives and taking the positives for granted

Both seem like quite minor issues in the grand scheme of things, but both can cause some serious harm to your relationships.

 

 

Lack of communication

 

We all know that not expressing your feelings is really, really bad for you. Not only is it terrible for your relationship, but it can be terrible for your health.

 

Though it may seem that you’re doing your friend/partner/family member a favour by not telling them how you feel, you’re only building up resentment towards them. The best way I can think to describe it is knocking them unconscious and then being angry that they're asleep.

 

And when the truth comes out (as it always does), chances are that they’ll just be angry, hurt and confused that you didn’t trust them enough to share your feelings with them.

 

Exercise:

  • Think about something that you’ve been hiding from a loved one. Maybe you hate that they never wash the dishes, or that they always change the channel during your favourite show.

  • Whatever the problem is, write it down. Address them as though you were writing a letter and tell them exactly how you feel. Be brutally honest.

  • Read through the letter again and try to figure out a kind and tactful way to phrase what you've said.

  • Whether it’s with an edited letter, an email or a face-to-face conversation, tell your loved on exactly how you’ve been feeling.

Being honest about problems with your loved ones can be scary: because you don’t want to hurt their feelings or be on the receiving end of some negative reaction. You have to decide whether the relationship is important enough to face a few tears.

 

And that’s where the next part comes in:

 

 

Taking the positives for granted

 

Seeing a relationship as nothing but a burden on your life can be easy when all you think about is the negatives, and everything the other person does that bugs you. It's difficult to remember someone's sense of humour or your common interests, when all you can think about is how they're constantly nagging you to do the dishes.

 

Unfortunately, once you focus on one bad thing, another seems to pop into your head like magic. Our brains love negativity. Once you're so mired in the negatives, it can take some real effort to remember anything good about the person at all.

 

Thinking about the good times, and the positive qualities of your loved ones isn't just good for the health of your relationships - it makes you feel good.

 

It can be very easy to forget all the positives you once saw in a person when you're so busy focusing on the negatives.

 

Rather than focus on the negative, think about all the things you like or enjoy about that person – all the reasons you enjoy having them in your life. Most of the time, we take these things for granted and they fade into the background, leaving room only for the little irritations or things we don't like.

 

Exercise:

  • Write down the names of all the people who are important in your life, and all the people you love – even if you’re not close anymore

  • For each name on the list, write down five things about that person that you love or enjoy. Whether it’s their sense of humour or the fact that they’re a good listener, write down at least five things – more if you feel like it

  • Find a way to tell that person that you love and appreciate them. Text them or send them an email, but make an effort to let them know that they mean something to you. Not only will it make them feel loved - it'll make you feel better too.

 

 

Relationships are important, and though they can sometimes be tough - they're worth it in the end.

 

 

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