|Spending time with people who put you |
down or throw cold water on your spirations
can negatively affect you.
But bad relationships can cause resentment and misery.
The age of social networking also means that millions of people in the UK now connect with a multitude of online friends and business connections through the internet, which can lead to 'emotional clutter.'
At the start of 2014, now is the perfect time for you to carry out your own relationship audit.
Health and happiness
'Conducting a relationship audit means reflecting on the people in your life and asking yourself one simple question: do they add value?
'The new year is often a good time to start,' explains James Sweetman, life coach and author of 'Soar – Powerful Questions that will Transform your Life'.
'The quality of our lives is a reflection of the quality of our relationships. Poor relationships are one of the biggest contributors to unhappiness, especially at home.
'Equally, having high-quality relationships is one of the strongest predictors of happiness and health.'
Radiators and plugholes
It can be said that people fall into two categories, radiators and plugholes.
When you are with the former, you feel energised and leave their company feeling more positive about yourself and the world.
However, you leave the company of the second category feeling your energy has been sucked from you. 'They may put you down, overtly or covertly, throw cold water on your dreams and aspirations or just generally be negative,' explains Sweetman.
'It makes sense to spend time with people in the former category, who have your best interests at heart, support and encourage you and ultimately want the best for you.'
Sweetman recommends following two golden rules that are applicable in all relationships from friends, partners, siblings and colleagues.
'The first golden rule is 'we ''train'' others how to treat us.'
For example, if a friend or colleague speaks to you in a way that you don't appreciate, but you don't say anything to them, then you are 'training' them to speak to you in that way.
'A powerful question to ask yourself is how have you trained friends, colleagues, siblings and your partner to treat you?'
The second golden rule of all relationships is that you cannot change the other person; you can only change how you relate to them.
'Trying to get other people to change, with tactics like blaming, playing the victim, making threats and blackmail usually results in the other person feeling manipulated, uncared for and even resentful,' says Sweetman.
It's important to remember that the only person you have control over is yourself and we are responsible for our own emotions and attitude.
When we say: 'he makes me angry,' what we are really saying is: 'I'm choosing to respond to him in an angry way.'
'So ask yourself how could you respond more usefully?,' says Sweetman.
'If we are looking for something different in our relationships it usually means doing something differently. To transform a relationship you need to transform yourself.'
If you want to audit your relationships successfully, you have to be honest with yourself. Sweetman suggests you ask yourself these questions:
- Where have I compromised too much?
- Do we really have anything in common other than a shared history?
- Do I feel better or worse about myself when I'm in their company?
- If I didn't continue to make contact with them would they keep in contact with me?
- If the current challenge I'm experiencing in this relationship or situation is here to teach me something, what might that gift of wisdom be?
Sweetman explains that our relationship with our spouse or partner is key to personal development as it's where we will learn the most about ourselves.
'The best personal relationships are the ones where each person helps their partner be the best of themselves and facilitates their learning and growth.
'That doesn't mean there won't be disagreements, but those disagreements are opportunities for learning, not an invitation to commence a power struggle.'
If you have a relationship that is not what it could or should be, here are some questions that will give you a new insight:
- Why do I want to enhance this relationship and what are you willing to do to achieve this? If you are not motivated to work on the relationship, nothing will change.
- What is the specific challenge I'm facing? It may not be everything about the other person, but a specific behaviour that doesn't sit well with you.
- Put yourself in the other person's shoes – if you were honest, what do you think is their experience of interacting with you? What do you feel they want from you?
- What makes you continue to respond or interact with the other person in the way that you do? This question sheds light on what is really going on with us and the 'buttons' the other person is pressing.
- How could you respond differently to the other person?
- What are you no longer willing to do or allow or condone?
- What could be good about this relationship?
- What do you love/like about this relationship and what would you miss?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, explains Sweetman.
But by asking new questions, this will improve our relationship with ourselves, which is perhaps the most important relationship of all.
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