How to Heal Troubled Relationships
Today’s guest post comes from Sonia Frontera, author of Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist?: Get Clear, Get Strong and Get Off the Fence. A Roadmap to Freedom. It’s a self-empowerment guide for women who need clarity on how to “get off the fence” in an unhappy marriage. Calling on her own experiences as a wife, attorney, and an empowerment trainer, Sonia provides compassionate guidance for readers seeking peace and fulfillment.
Growing up, Sonia always wanted to have a sister. She discovered, later in life, that the best way to have a sister is to be one. Through her book series The Sister’s Guides to Empowered Living, Sonia vows to inspire and empower women around the world to live full and satisfying lives.
Kindness: The Ultimate Medicine for Healing Troubled Relationships
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. The Dalai Lama
It is inevitable. We all have one nemesis—or more.
These are people who get under your skin and bring out the worst in you. They push your buttons until you lose your cool and often “make you” fly off the handle and do things you normally wouldn’t do.
It could be your critical mother or spouse, a disrespectful child or the annoying co-worker in the next cube.
Your constant tensions make your interactions unbearable and the relationship—one you can’t just walk away from—is in danger of collapsing.
How do you transform your relationships and bring resolution to your conflict? By practicing kindness.
I know what you’re thinking… How can I ask you to be kind to someone who makes your life hell?
As ironic as this may seem, the more contentious the relationship, the greater the reason to be kind.
In the heat the moment, it may feel cathartic to let your tormentor have it. But losing your cool will make the situation worse. Here is where kindness comes in.
Kindness is the art of responding from your highest self. Having dominion over your emotions and responses. Kindness makes you the boss. You put the ego in check and out of the driver’s seat, while your highest self becomes the master of the situation.
Kindness is resisting the temptation to fire back and instead stepping back. It’s ending the argument before it begins.
When someone is trying to provoke a fight, or does something that pushes your buttons, step back and let your inner sage handle the situation. I’m not suggesting that you be a doormat, but to be in control—you choose how you are going to respond to the unpleasant stimulus.
Kindness is awareness in action. Develop the wisdom to get out of a bad situation unscathed, and—even better—to stay away altogether from situations likely to go bad. It can be as simple as saying a sincere and even-tempered “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that… How can I fix it? Thanks for bringing it up. I will keep that in mind going forward.”
An easy way to practice kindness is to do something thoughtful without being asked, like uttering a genuine compliment or offering help.
Kindness is disarming. Have you ever been enraged over a situation, only to have the other person—manager, employee—smile and offer to fix it? What did that do to you? I bet it knocked you off your horse and made you put down your sword.
Similarly, acting kindly towards an adversary will probably take him or her by surprise. This person will not see it coming and may be taken aback. The shock will give him or her, too, the opportunity to step back, instead of firing back.
After all, you seek resolution and improved communication, particularly in difficult circumstances.
In high-conflict situations, kindness will help you stay sane and serene, so your actions are aligned with what’s best for all.
Kindness keeps you centered and calm. You will feel better. You will feel empowered when you don’t allow yourself to get dragged into reactivity, escalating a situation and saying things you will regret.
It will prevent you from continuing an argument in your head for hours—stewing over the things said and playing over and over the things you would have liked to say.
If the other person doesn’t respond to kindness, you have your answer. You likely are in a no-win situation.
If this individual doesn’t respond with kindness, he or she may be too stuck to consider a new way of looking at things and make positive changes.
He or she has some healing to do, and you don’t have to be the guru to lead him or her to enlightenment. Limit your interactions to a minimum and, where possible, stay away from circumstances you know create dissent.
If you are having problems with a family member, you may consider therapy to help you repair the relationship.
Own your power. Continue to choose your actions again and again until you develop the habit of responding to every situation with kindness. It is a skill worth perfecting.
If you don’t believe me, start practicing with people with whom you don’t have a contentious relationship. Then you can try it with people you don’t get along with.
Living in a constant state of kindness is not easy and takes practice and patience. We are conditioned to instinctively fight back, compliments of our reptilian brain and our social conditioning.
Nonetheless, keep on practicing kindness. Congratulate yourself on every victory and catch yourself when you slip up. Look back and investigate why you fell off the wagon and keep track of the situations that trigger unkindness reactivity.
With a kind, aware mindset, you can enjoy peaceful relationships—even with the most difficult people.
Visit Sonia’s website to learn more about her, the book, and The Sisterhood of Empowered Living!