How to Delight in our Relationships Vs Stress over them
“Sometimes, when people get treated as less than human, the best way to help them feel better is to simply treat them as human. Not as victims. Just you as you.” –Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kelly. (Book: All American Boys)
It’s not about you. Thinking and acting as it is, is part of the problem. Treating others as humans not projects/victims is what we’re called to do. That is what loving your neighbor means. Just “be” with them vs. “do” for them.
Based on my own experiences and my work with troubled relationships, I’ve learned that our misconception of what love is (i.e. “we are responsible for our loved ones’ feelings, self-esteem, success, etc.”) is what makes our relationships stressful vs. delightful. This in turn, can lead to codependency, boundaries being crossed, offending/being offended, enabling, resentment, amongst other problems often found in all relationships.
Signs you’re treating others as projects/victims vs. humans:
- You think you have to “fix it” every time a loved one shares a problem, feeling, vulnerability, etc.
- You secretly resent your loved one for sharing their vulnerabilities with you as a result
- You focus on “doing” for them vs. “being” with them when they’re struggling with something
- You think you know better and get offended when your “solution” isn’t heard or appreciated
- You burn yourself out for your loved one and label them as “ungrateful,” “victim,” “incompetent,” “irresponsible,” “weak/sickly/at risk”
TIPS on making your relationships more delightful, not stressful:
- Listen more than speak (learn how to listen)
- Be still (have faith in God/Higher Power and your loved one)
- Take a supportive role vs. taking over (guide only when asked)
- Remember that listening/letting someone vent is one of the most helpful things you can do (contrary to what you may believe)
Bearing witness to our loved ones struggles and growth journeys is a privilege that needs to be protected by not trying to make it our project or our journey. Learning to calm your anxiety, truly listening (w/o interrupting, advice giving, and judgment), and being fully present with your loved one communicates trust in his/her abilities to figure things out as well as your love and acceptance of them. These types of interactions lead to enjoying your relationships instead of them becoming exhausting and stressful.
Need to learn more about how to improve your relationships? Individual Therapy or Couples Therapy can help!