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When you are navigating a difficult relationship

A lot of the stress that we experience in life comes from handling difficult relationships. It could be with friends, partners, relatives or family, workmates, acquaintances, practically anybody. If we do not learn how to effectively manage these relationships, our mental and physical well-being may suffer. Here are a few things that we can try if we find ourselves in this situation.

Putting ourselves in the other’s shoes. This includes trying to understand where the other person is coming from, what their realities are, and how the situation might appear from their perspective. Doing this is an act of kindness towards the other.

Letting go of what we can’t control. Let’s say the other person says something unpleasant about us, something that is really beyond our control—let it go. If we dwell on it or react to it, it will only affect us negatively. So focus only on the things that we are capable of changing and let the rest go.

Going into silence. This is especially helpful whenever we feel like lashing out or confronting the other. Simply retreat, sit down, and breathe. Make sure that we don’t call, speak, or write to the person unless we are in a calm state. Otherwise, we might regret our words or actions later. Talking to the other, when we are both calm and peaceful, can sometimes be a good idea.

Forgiveness. They say that the person who can forgive is the stronger one, especially if they can do it without hearing an apology from the other party. That’s because forgiveness is a form of kindness towards the self, too. As it heals the rift between two people, it also heals the heart of the wounded.

Being loving, being kind. Loving-kindness meditation is, indeed, an effective way to show acceptance, understanding, and kindness to others (and ourselves, too). In dealing with a difficult relationship, we see the other in a non-judgmental way—as a human being who also experiences suffering like us, as a person who also wants to be happy, like us. And so we hold space for them, wish them well, and send loving-kindness their way.

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