Last week while I was in my group circuit training class, one of the women was explaining her struggle with change. She explained how her daily routine was very methodical and when things didn’t go as planned she fell into a state of semi-shock or paralysis. This is just one example of the many ways we respond when things change. There are things we do each day to resist change despite the fact that it’s always happening. How we treat our bodies is a great example of how we are in relationship with ourselves and others. Our bodies are constantly changing. We eat. The body recycles the food, keeping certain nutrients in and letting go of those indigestible elements. The nutrients that are kept are used to fuel our bodies with energy, grow hair and limbs, rebuild cells, heal wounds or fight infection and disease.
Our relationship with our body can teach us a lot about our relationships with others. When we treat our body with respect, think carefully about the food we eat, listen to it when it needs rest, our bodies respond positively. When we neglect our bodies, constantly ignore warning signs like weight gain, hair loss, and illness or even blame other people for our physical state, our body and spirit starts to break down.
Here are a few ways you may be sabotaging relationships:
- We eat to cope with stress and anxiety when relationships get hard.
- We have a skewed definition of a healthy relationship.
- We blame others for our failures or lack of success.
- We refuse to listen to others or to see the danger signs.
- We stay focused on the past mistakes, theirs or ours.
- We let our past experiences and actions define our future.
- We let our inner critic or TNP Committee write the script we follow.
- We live our lives by other people’s standards.
- We use humor and sarcasm to mask our pain and keep people away.
- We constantly contradict or “one up” others.
- No one else has the right answer except us.
- We let our culture dictate who we will be in a relationship.
- We choose to surround ourselves with people who don’t support us.
- We use alcohol to avoid facing difficult conversations.
- We blame our parents or life circumstances for our choices.
- We spend money to fill an emotional gap.
- We push people away and hide our feelings during difficult times.
- We reject choice.
- We resist change even though change is constantly happening.
What can we learn from the relationship with have with our bodies and how we relate to friends, family and our partners? Whatever you do to sabotage your relationships, here a few good things to know:
- Stop Lying to yourself and others. A 2002 study by Robert Feldman of the University of Massachusetts, found that on average, people told two to three lies in a ten-minute conversation. Most lies are undetectable and innocuous. The first person we often lie to is ourselves often used as a coping mechanism. It sounds something like, “I need to go to the gym today,” when you have no intention to actually go and even leave the house without the proper gear. When others hurt us we lie to ourselves about why they took action. The first step is to notice how often you lie to yourself or others.
- Become Mindful. Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily equal meditation. Learning to pay attention to what’s happening in your own life and those you relate to is key to cultivating healthy relationships. Mindfulness will allow you to pay attention and listen to what’s really happening in your relationships. Learn to listen with all your senses. It will help you determine whether you are in a healthy relationships or if its time to let go.
- Learn to embrace change. Part of changing behaviors is trying something new. We don’t have to start really high. Try something simple. One way to try out change is to genuinely complement every single person you interact with for one week. That includes neighbors, friends, coworkers, family, cashiers, and bus drivers. Pay attention to the responses you receive and how your day goes. I promise you’ll notice a change. Learning to embrace change is a practice. Giving complements will help you come one step closer towards embracing change.
- Build trust. People can handle more than we think. We often hold our truest feelings back from the people we love because we think they can’t handle it or they won’t understand. If you are going to trust others, you have to be willing to risk sharing your emotions. Sharing how you feel strengthens relationships and allows them to grow. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose. It's like Actress Geena Davis says, "If you risk nothing, then you risk everything."
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