Whether you’re fighting with your spouse regularly, in the midst of a friend breakup, or working up the nerve to talk to your boss about something serious, remember this: Every aspect of your life is a reflection of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual self. Your parents, life partner, children, family, lovers, friends, bosses, co-workers, and life experiences are all your greatest teachers. If you want to change the quality of your relationships, then you must first be willing to accept some hard truths and take full responsibility for yourself—while sometimes letting people off the hook, even when you don’t want to.
Blame keeps us embedded where we are. Blame is bondage that leads nowhere and makes others responsible for how we feel and act. Further, it perpetuates the situation, causing us unnecessary stress and anxiety. Handling a complicated relationship takes a tremendous amount of skill and centeredness, and this is a learned art.
Let’s begin with a simple home truth: You cannot change anyone but yourself. If you want peace and understanding in your relationships, you must be willing to take the high road. When peace, respect, and understanding becomes your ultimate goal, then the mindset with which you approach your relationships begins to change.
Here are four healthy ways to resolve conflict in difficult relationships:
1. Decide not to lose control, no matter how challenging the relationship is.
Remind yourself that you are an open-minded and generous person and that you are willing to respect and honor others.
2. When you are angry and frustrated, pause and count to 10.
When your mind is racing, your emotions charged, and your heart beat fast, it’s unlikely that anything productive will actually get accomplished. So do nothing. Stay still and focus on your breath. If necessary, let the other person know that you need time to respond, and move away from the situation.
3. Let your emotions settle.
Take the necessary time to let your mind and emotions settle, and to gain the needed clarity, which may take a few minutes or longer, be it 24 hours or more. What is important here is to get yourself into a resolution-oriented frame of mind so that you can approach the situation armed with the right mindset.
4. Be willing to listen with patience and an open mind.
You do not have to agree wholeheartedly with the other person’s viewpoint. Remind yourself that everyone has a right to their perspectives, and be willing to find a solution to make things work. When you treat others with love and understanding, their attitude toward you will change, and they, too, will be willing to meet you halfway.
Just remember: We don’t need to change people; we just have to become more tolerant and patient and respect the fact that everyone is different. If you are willing to take responsibility for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being, then close relationships have the potential to enhance your life experience significantly through companionship, shared values, and common interests, and the exploration of differentiated opinions and challenges.
When you take responsibility for yourself, you allow for love, tenderness, respect, and integrity to flourish naturally. These relationships can be the most fulfilling human endeavor if you have the courage and awareness to walk this ground.
When you take that leap to resolve conflicts, develop closer bonds, and be vulnerable, you are, in fact, setting a robust platform for growth and self-examination. The beauty of a relationship lies in being able to overcome the issues that come up between two people with maturity and openness, as it allows you to actively participate in your growth and evolution to a greater sense of self.