Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe it’s your co-worker. Maybe it’s your best friend.
Whoever it is with, you have probably realized at some point that relationships change. And it can be uncomfortable and upsetting to deal with it. Not to mention stressful.
The stress of changing relationships can take a toll on our overall physical and mental health. And while it may seem unfitting to see a conventional general practitioner over it, the stress, anger, frustration, and sadness can all add up – and can even lead to illness and disease so it’s important to take care of it – in a healthy and loving manner for both you and your spouse, co- worker, friend, etc.
Following are kind and loving strategies we use to deal with change in relationships.
They may not be easy – but they are healthy. What to try and not do…
Throughout our life, we are given very little instruction on how to deal with stress in a relationship. We want to feel good about ourselves so it’s normal that we quickly turn to unhealthy ways of working through it.
When we feel a relationship start to change, we can quickly begin to feel that all of this is just happening to us, that we have done nothing wrong to deserve it, and that the other person has made all of the mistakes.
It can seem like he or she isn’t like they were before and/or they wronged us in some way.
And…sometimes this can be true (i.e., abusive or threatening relationships).
But before getting caught in a trap of being the victim in the relationship, consider your role in what has happened and how the relationship can move forward. Be mindful of:
Putting all the blame on others – ask yourself what you could of and can do diﬀerently.
Stewing about it – even though it can seem all-consuming, take action to talk or write openly and respectfully about what has happened and how you can move forward peacefully.
Ignoring it – you may not want to think it’s important, but if thinking about the situation gives you any type of sad, angry, frustrating, or uncomfortable feeling, don’t suppress the issue(s).
It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be frustrated and sad. But it’s how we handle it that can help our relationships grow stronger and healthier rather than weak and fleeting.
What to do instead…
When things start to change, first consider what type of mentality you have or would like to have when working through the change. Do you have a:
Victim Mentality – the feeling that life just happens to you, that you blame others, run from hard things, find yourself stuck in the same patterns, and/or trying to keep up with others and please them.
Growth Mentality – the thought that things happen to you, but you want to learn and grow from those challenges, that you can make these hard times an opportunity to become stronger and you have a desire to navigate through them.
As you can probably guess, adopting a growth mentality is a mature and healthy way of managing changing relationships. But remember when we said things wouldn’t necessarily be easy? This is one of them.
Exercising a growth mentality means looking inside yourself, taking responsibility for any change on your behalf, stating your concerns and wishes, and communicating this in a respectful manner. And this can be hard.
If you need inspiration in how to do this, we find the following can be a healthy step by step process for communicating your feelings:
- Choose How to Communicate – how do you want to express your feelings? In-person? In an email? Maybe a letter?
- Start by acknowledging that something feels oﬀ. Share your feelings and know that you don’t have to feel shameful or guilty for feeling the way you do.
- Next, be accountable for any change or wrongdoing you may be responsible for. Apologize if need be and recognize your role in how you are feeling (remember…no one makes you feel a certain way, you choose to feel that way whether consciously or not).
- Then share what change(s) you have been noticing and ask if they need help. You may state that they seem stressed or exhausted, maybe overwhelmed, busy or upset. Reassure them that you are there for them – to listen, to help, or to even withdraw for a bit if that is what the relationship needs at the moment.
- Lastly, explain that this is just where you are at. Communicate how much you value the relationship and that that is why you are being honest and open. Ask if the other person would like to work through it (and know that he or she may not have an exact answer at the moment), which allows them to decide the next steps and allows you to free yourself of excess stress.
Because this type of relationship work isn’t talked about much, the experience can be unnerving and awkward for both of you at first. However, you may find that it releases built-up frustration and allows you to feel more love rather than resentment towards yourself and the other person.
In addition, it may take the other person some time to process what you have shared and for them to decide how he or she would like to move forward. However, no matter what the response, you can live with peace knowing that you took steps to work through changes and issues in a kind, loving, and healthy way.
If you are experiencing stress in a relationship and would like to talk about it in a safe and healthy environment with the help of naturopathic medicine and you live in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, or the Greater Denver Metro area, please call us at (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation with Dr. Graves.
Relationships matter and your feelings are credible. Let us help you use these challenges to become stronger, wiser, and healthier.