Updated: Sep 1
Spring is on the way, so it’s time to clean out all those old cobwebs in the corners, and the dust and dirt that’s accumulated under the rug of your relationship. It’s easy to create or fall into unsupportive and unfulfilling habits. It’s normal to have that thing that you thought you let go of but every once in a while, it comes back to bite you – letting you know there’s still some lingering resentment. All those things that you never said, never did, or didn’t address are still there waiting for you. And goodness – they do accumulate over time!
Here’s how to clear (kindly and effectively) the emotional living space of your relationships:
1. Take a good hard look around you. This moment of honesty with yourself can be rough, but it’s also incredibly liberating. You’re not able to move through anything until you’re ready to face it first. Journaling, talking with a coach or counselor, and taking the mental break necessary just to breathe and notice what’s going on between you and your loved ones. What needs to be said? What needs to shift? What do you want these relationships to feel, look, and be like? Write down your ultimate vision for these relationships.
2. Take ownership. Even in the worst possible relationship, you have a level of responsibility – the fact that you got in that relationship (or stay, choose to engage, etc.). What part(s) have you played in creating the outcome you see before you? Fully embrace what you have brought to the table, but don’t beat yourself up! Instead, try to come to the point of acceptance. Repeat after me: I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had at the time. You can’t help those times when you didn’t know better or do better. You can only own and accept them and move on. What are you willing to work on, shift, or let go of?
3. Speak softly and carry a big stick! You can be clear and kind and enforce boundaries. Use a soft startup with any difficult conversation. “I feel ___ about ___ and I need ___.” Research has shown that 96% of conversations that start off pointed, accusatory, and otherwise negative end the same way. Best to get your point across as clearly, concisely, and unarguably as possible. Make sure the conversation is about the behaviors that need to change, without making it personal (about them). Keep name-calling, eye-rolling, and other acts of contempt out of your conversations. If it helps to create a safe space and ensure all parties have a voice at the table, ask a coach, counselor, or loving friend or family member to hold a neutral space – to keep that conversation going in the direction that’s best for all involved.
4. Know what you need. At the very core, what are the values you hold most dear? What do you need to ensure those are being met? Even the best intuitive mind readers shouldn’t have to “know” what their loved one needs or wants. It’s up to you to communicate that. This answer can’t be found in your brain. That logical mind works based on those ingrained habits, patterns, and belief systems that got you to this point. In order to really shift, you need to tap in with yourself on a deeper level. In that quiet, still space you hold – you’ll find all your answers.
Having a sound relationship “house” is like any other. Sometimes, it takes just a little routine maintenance. Others take a deep clean. Once in a while, you may find it needs a purge – but that doesn’t mean you need to move out! Look at folks who have been friends for 25 years or couples who have been together for 50! Most will tell you that they have had times where they nearly walked away, but they double-
downed on their love and commitment and got back a HUGE return on that emotional investment. You can too. It just takes a little courage, clarity, communication, and the commitment to see it through.