What if, rather than giving up on (or “settling for” or tolerating-the- distance-between-you &) that “difficult” someone in your life, you wise-up? What if your relationship with this one person could be better. Much better?
- Maybe you feel trapped in marriage “for the kids” and have given up;
- Maybe you’re stumped by your angry toddler;
- Maybe your teenager is going through a tough time;
- Maybe your in-laws are getting to you;
- Or your co-worker or boss;
- Or a friend has drifted away and you miss them.
I wonder if, like me, you’ve ever felt confounded, mystified and downright defeated in your efforts to connect with another human being?
Most people I’ve asked can think of several examples of when they’ve given up on a relationship. They know people whom they conclude are too — angry, difficult, selfish, dumb, aloof, uncaring, disinterested (you get the idea). So they stop trying.
But might that be a bit like feeling confounded, mystified and downright defeated by a complex math problem that no-one ever taught you how to solve?
Schools invest years in teaching us how to understand numbers: How relationships between and among numbers work; how to handle positive and negative numbers; why numbers behave a certain way in certain situations; how to handle abstraction; how to resolve math problems.
No one expects you to go from simple arithmetic to calculus without a careful sequencing of new skills over time with a teacher, textbook and lots of practice.
We do however, expect kids to emerge from their teens into an adult world in which they need to identify and meet an astounding variety of tangible, financial, educational, and emotional needs from a dizzying variety of people whose motives, behaviors, feelings and needs are vastly different, mysterious and confounding with no teacher, no book and very little practice. We can all feel like giving up on challenges like this, right?
But what if we’d had years of schooling to help us understand people? How relationships between and among people work; how to handle positive and negative emotions; why people behave a certain way in certain situations; how to handle abstraction; how to resolve people problems?
In brief, our relationships are like calculus: Confounding and mystifying when we’ve not learned much beyond addition and subtraction, but beautiful and elegantly simple when we know what we are doing.
My invitation to you this year is to come back to school, with me.
Let’s have some fun in the relationship remediation room and finally figure out how to feel empowered in our interactions with people.
I’ll be your coach, this blog, the textbook. And you’ll be invited to get all the practice you need as we go along.
Over the next 12 months I’m going to share the “12-most-important-relationship-skills-no-one-ever-taught-me-in-school-but-I-sure-wish-they did.”
Think about that one person you’d like to improve your relationship with.*
I’ll be back in a week with my Top 12 list.
PS: Happy 2015 ~ sending love across the world as the new year dawns in all the time zones.
- For the purposes of this challenge, so you might have better odds at success, please do not choose a person with an untreated mental health diagnosis such as narcissism, deep depression, borderline personality disorder, dementia or bi-polar disorder. Nurturing your relationship with such a person is absolutely possible, but may take some higher-level skills and patience. Be kind to yourself to start with.