Monday, June 05, 2006

Redefining Relationships

A while ago when I blogged about ‘pruning your life of toxic relationships’, I had more responses than any other I had written before or since. I realise one can’t always cut people out of one’s life. And I wrote about that as well. In certain circumstances when you can’t then it’s time to redefine what that relationship will be. That’s when I received more emails than I could count!

“How can I do that?” one person asked. Another said “It’s who I work for. How in the world can I be the one to redefine?” and yet another asked me “When it’s family, how am I supposed to do that?”

It’s not easy but very doable. Yesterday I had absolute clarity about that and thought I’d answer some of these questions by sharing it. First of all, no matter what the relationship is, the first step is to redefine yourself within it. Not the other person. You can only change yourself, not anyone else and when you try to, that’s when the anger and resentment set in. When you try to ‘figure out’ their behaviour, you can analyse a situation to death and drive yourself crazy in the process.

Just because a person might be your boss or manager, doesn’t mean he or she will give you everything you need, support you and your growth or be there for you. Some managers’ foci will only be on themselves and getting ahead at the expense of their staff. Redefine. See how you can grow through this process and move on to a better job when the time is right, not as a reactive mode. You will always come across and work with people like that and you need to know how to deal with them, not run away from them.

When it’s a family member, redefine how you will interact with that person and on what level. Just by virtue of that person being a blood relation doesn’t mean you have to take what is unacceptable and try to cram it into the realm of acceptable. When you do that, you are giving away your self-respect. Change how you interact and the frequency, for if that person is self-centered then chances are they won’t even notice and, if they do, they probably won’t do anything about it anyways. If it doesn’t serve or revolve around them in some way, then as far as they’re concerned, it’s not important. It’s up to you to decide what is important to you and make the changes accordingly.

Don’t get into the payback mode or the anger and resentment mode in either because the only one who will suffer is you. Rather wish them well in their own lives and move on. And once you’re able to do that the clarity will be extraordinary. The negative energy will no longer be a part of any interaction you have with them and you will feel freer than ever before. It’s quite amazing actually.

In this world you get what you give, I truly believe that. And for those who choose to discard your gifts, there are many who would love to have them. Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have collected them and attracted them in some way. What you choose to do with them is up to you. Choose wisely.

Donna Karlin

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