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That one strained relationship – what can you do about it?


Is there a relationship in your life – with a parent, a sibling, your spouse, or a friend that drains you emotionally? You can’t live with the person but you can’t live without too. Either he/she is your responsibility or you are in some way dependent on the person. Is there any such relationship that has been like this for a long time, perhaps several years?

If your answers are mostly yes, then I am writing for you today.


And before I tell you, what can you do about such a strained relationship or how can you save your energy from draining in such a relationship or how can you save your mental peace; there are a few things that you need to understand while sharing a bond with a person with whom your relationship is strained.



Your relationship is mostly strained because you place an expectation every time you correct the person’s mistake.


For example, when a person does something wrong that causes you some type of trouble, you do not just stop and correct him/her. Instead, you also expect or assume that since he/she is of a certain age, he/she should know what to do. We often have such high expectations from our parents. We expect them to have acquired wisdom and life experience that would make them better equipped to make the right decisions. We view age as an indicator of maturity and wisdom and assume that our parents have the knowledge and understanding to guide us in the right direction. But this is not always true in their respective lives. They are made up of their own life’s experiences which might have bestowed them with the intelligence of taking right decisions or not.


The bottom line is that it is “your expectation or assumption” that gets mixed up with the solution to the situation. Hence, neither the problem at hand gets resolved nor the person changes. It only ends up causing a conflict within you since nothing comes out of your efforts. The other person continues to remain the way he/she is. He/she probably doesn’t even know what he/she is doing and why. Therefore, it is you who will have to apply wisdom and separate the two i.e. your expectation from the person and the solution to a situation.



The another very common expectation that always creates conflict within us is – why is this relationship not like another one? - A comparison.


For example, why is my relationship with my spouse not like my relationship with my parents or my relationship with my best friend? Or why is my relationship with this sibling so strained and not like the one I share with my other sibling? If I am behaving in the same manner in the other relationship as well or the other relationship is also growing through similar hardships then how come that one is growing so beautifully while this one is constantly under strain? Basically, the illogical "why".


In other words, you add an unwarranted comparison to the expectation. Again, this will also not be fruitful.


You will have to accept the fact that there is no such thing as a perfectly harmonious relationship. No relationship can ever be completely flawless. It’s all in someone’s mind. Basically, it all depends on which of the flaws of a person can you accept and which are the flaws that you are unable to accept. If you are able to cope with the challenging aspects of one’s behavior, that relationship appears like a perfect one to you. On the other hand, if the other person’s behavior conflicts with your inherent belief system, then you will find issues with the relationship. It is largely about how you see things. It is again about you expecting the other person to comply with your belief system. The more you expect this from the person, the more friction you will experience.


The last myth that you need to shatter within yourself is that people change. They evolve. The sooner you accept this, the happier you will be. If you have shared a bond with someone over the course of time and he/she had always behaved a certain way, and now you notice a change, then perhaps you don't accept the fact that they have evolved with age, time, and experience. You are still expecting him/her to be the way he/she was some time back while you have grown and evolved in your life.


By now, if you feel that I am trying to say that the problem is with you and not the other person who is causing the strain in the relationship, then you have probably misunderstood it all.




What I am trying to bring to your understanding is that even if the other person is completely wrong in a relationship, you will always have very limited power to change him/her. This is for an obvious reason, that he/she is a different individual and he/she has a certain way of conducting his/her life which you cannot change.


His/her thinking and beliefs have formed out of his/her own experiences, and you cannot go back in time and change those experiences and hence the beliefs and responses. So what is the point of making uphill efforts to change another person? For instance, trying to convince an older person who has grown up with a certain set of values and beliefs to adopt a completely new way of thinking and behaving is likely to be an exercise in futility. So what is the point in draining your energy in making such an effort?


Accepting a person for who he/she is the only thing you can do. Call him/her broken… defective…or whatever but accept the way he/she is and then maintain a respectable distance from his/her doings. Not that this will not cause you any more pain, but you will have enough to save your own sanity. And this is what will help you. Trying to change someone who is already formed out of certain past experiences is a vain effort. You may try to change that person for eternity and nothing will happen until that person decides to change by himself or herself.


Hence instead of draining your energy in changing another individual, accept him/her the way you accept other people in your life with their respective beliefs, thoughts, and functional disabilities. In this particular case, you can assume that the disability is also mind-pertaining. It is only by letting go of your own expectations from this person that you can save your mental peace. This is the only thing that is under your control. Nothing else is! Let go of your expectations from this person, no matter how strong they are. Sit alone and cry for as long as you want, but help yourself in accepting that the other person will never change. He/she will remain the way he/she is. You might have had big dreams of a relationship with this person, but unfortunately, they are not coming true. You will have to live with a different distorted reality.


I know I have sounded harsh to you, but I am sure it will only help you live with some form of peace within. Only by dissociating your expectations from such a person can you prevent yourself from being dragged down by incessant emotional leaks. Other than that, nothing else will work.


So do make the efforts in the right directions. In case, you aren’t able to pull yourself out of such a relationship by yourself, reach out. Let’s discuss your concern.



Regards,

Komel Chadha

Psychotherapist

+91 9811941192






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