Whew, hard to believe that next week we will officially embark on the year 2018—oh my, how time flies. As the year comes to a close, take the time to look back at your relationship fingerprint. Too often we have the habit of blaming our relationship struggles on others and pat our own backs for the successes. The problem with this is that these blinders destine us to repeat the same bad moves for years. As a result, we never really recognize that these moves are harming us. This year, though, find the courage to take an honest look at your moves. Get clarity on the impact those moves have had on those around you and note the changes that might be necessary moving forward.
Below are a few questions to help you in this awareness process (Note: In each question, focus on your part in particular):
1. Which relationships in your life are great and why?
2. Which relationships in your life are struggling and why?
3. What are your strengths when it comes to relationships?
4. What are your weaknesses in regard to how you show up in your relationships?
5. What is the number one complaint your spouse, children and friends would say about you if they knew you wouldn’t get mad at them for saying it?
6. In what three ways are you difficult to be in a relationship with?
7. When you are at your worst, what do you do that makes it hard to be around you (e.g. control, rage, get mean, shut down, get passive-aggressive, lie, etc.)?
8. Are there any relationships in your life where you are settling for poor treatment? If yes, why?
9. What relationship patterns have been present in a number of the relationships in your life (e.g. affairs, addictions, control, abuse, lies, depression)?
10. What areas do you know you need to change in your relationships in order to have great relationships (e.g. start saying no, stop attacking people in anger, let go of control, be accountable instead of defensive, etc.)?
11. Moving into 2018, what do you know you need to do differently in order for you to improve your relationships?
As you wind down 2017, commit to leaving these five relationship wreckers behind you:
• Defensiveness: If you were in the wrong, own up to it, don’t defend it. Defensiveness is one of the most toxic relationship moves people use; it creates distance and resentment in relationships every time.
• Raging: Yelling, name-calling and swearing are abusive—regardless of what you’re raging about.
• Lying: Lying breaks trust. You can’t be close to someone you don’t trust.
• Reactivity: Reactivity makes you unsafe to be around. There are few things that will push people away quicker than rage and reactivity. Get grounded, not reactive.
• Addictions: Addictions will kill you and the relationship. Get help, not a fix.
• Co-dependency: It is not your job to fix or save others from themselves. Every adult is responsible for being responsible. Period. Set limits, don’t enable irresponsible behavior, unhealthy addictions or harmful actions. When you enable, you are complicit in the poor behavior.
Wind up this year by getting conscious of the lessons you learned. All failures are an opportunity for growth. All successes are reminders of what to keep doing. Moving into 2018, find the humility to take an unsparing look at you. Leave everyone else out of the equation and look at how you show up in your relationships day to day. Are you present? Loving? Kind? Compassionate? Engaged? Grounded? Do you hold those around you accountable for being the same? If not, then that is your work. Own it and do it.
Challenge: Find the courage to humbly acknowledge your relationship missteps, blunders and struggles. Work these going forward and check back here to let me know how it goes. I’m rooting for you!