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Brutal Truths You Need To Know For Having A Healthy Relationship

Brutal Truths You Need To Know For Having A Healthy Relationship

OK, I know what you’re thinking… who are you to tell me about healthy relationships? Are you some kind of expert or something? No, I’m not an expert on healthy relationships. But, I have been married for 20 years (to the same person) and we’ve learned a thing or two along the way about the realities of making it work. These points may come across as harsh but sometimes the truth hurts, especially when it’s worth hearing. So here goes…

You’re not perfect, Superstar

We all have to get to know ourselves in order to function healthfully in our relationships, and part of that is owning our crap. None of us are perfect. I’m not and you’re not. So let’s get over ourselves, admit our flaws, and make a commitment to try to be better.

And neither is your partner

See above. If you’re not willing to be held to a standard of perfection, then you can’t expect your partner to be either.

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Relationships take work

Because you’re not perfect, you’re going to screw up and so is your partner. You are going to get cranky and take it out on each other. You’re going to forget to pay the bills on time and they will leave dirty socks on the floor because it’s just not a priority to pick them up. What should be a priority is loving and appreciating each other for who you are and what you each bring to the relationship. When you do this, you can expect the same from each other in return. Then you work together to find mutually agreeable solutions to the other stuff.

It’s a give and take, but it’s not always going to be 50/50. Get used to it

Relationships have a rhythm. There will be times when you need extra support from your partner and times when your partner needs extra from you. If you both truly love and care about each other, you’ll each want to give more than you receive. On the other hand, when the ratio of give to take is perpetually unbalanced, it’s time to re-evaluate the health of the relationship.

Communication is key; because mind reading is unreliable

As much as you want may them to be, your partner is not a mind reader and shouldn’t be expected to “just know” anything about you, what you want, or how you feel. So start talking… and listening because you’re not a mind reader, either. As author don Miguel Ruiz stated in The Four Agreements, “Don’t Make Assumptions.” When you communicate clearly with each other you avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. When you assume, you make as ass out of… well, you know.

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You will fight. If you don’t ever fight, then neither of you is invested enough in the relationship to make it last

Because we only spend time and energy on things we care about. If you passed anger and hurt feelings miles ago and have entered Apathy-town… then do yourself and your partner a favor and end it so that you can each move on.

If you are thinking about leaving the relationship, chances are your partner is too

If you (or your partner) feel “blindsided” by an admission of unhappiness in the relationship, then you probably aren’t paying enough attention to the relationship and need to re-evaluate your commitment to each other.

What your partner doesn’t know CAN and most likely WILL hurt them (Because they are going to find out. Oh, yes they will.)

We are living in the social media age in a town called Selfie-ville… Take my advice and live your life as if Every. Single. Thing. you do is going to be posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Whether it’s your page or your friend’s or your friend’s friends’, it’s going to get out and your partner is going to find out and be hurt, humiliated, and quite probably plotting revenge by the time you get home.

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Comparing your partner to others is a sure way to kill your relationship fast

Oh yeah? If that person over there is so great, then why aren’t you with them or trying to get with them? Listen, if someone else is so far superior to your partner that you need to make comparisons, then please by all means take a hike over to the greener grass… and let your partner be free to find someone who appreciates them for who they are and what they bring to the relationship.

The relationships we have with our caregivers in childhood may drive how we behave in our adult relationships

Psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1907-1990) theorized that children form attachments with their caregivers from infant-hood, and the quality of those attachments drive instinctive behaviors that can follow us into adulthood (1969, 1980). For example, if your partner’s mother (or other primary caregiver) was cold and distant, or inconsistent in caring for their needs, then they may have developed an innate sense of insecurity and mistrust that could be driving their adult behaviors like clinging, insecurity in the relationship, or defensiveness, to name a few. So…much of what your partner does may have very little to do with you and more to do with the relationship they had to their primary caregiver as a child. (And vice versa, just in case you were wondering…)

You won’t change them and continuously trying to do so is unfair and can become abusive

Constantly picking at someone to make them change erodes self-confidence and self-image. You may think you’re doing it “to help them” or “because you care sooooo much” about them. You’re not. You’re trying to change someone you don’t really like into someone that you can love and neither of you are going to be better for it. So either accept the person for who they are and work on understanding them “as is”, or let them go and move on to someone who doesn’t need so much of your “fixing.”

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Speaking of… if you only take one thing away from this article at all please let it be this:

Abusive partners DO NOT change

Whether they are verbally, emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive, they will not see the error of their ways and learn to treat you better. They will not grow out of it. And they will do it again… and again… and again. They will continue to abuse you. Your only option is to get out of the relationship any way you can; get help to pick up the pieces and find yourself again; and learn to recognize the signs so you can avoid those people in the future.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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