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5 Reasons Your Relationship is Falling Apart

5 Reasons Your Relationship is Falling Apart

I hope you’ll excuse the pointed title, and I sincerely hope your relationship is not falling apart, but if you have ever found yourself in dire straits in a relationship (as we all do), chances are that the trouble can be traced back to one or a few of these issues. If your relationship is all rainbows and sunshine dust, fantastic—this list will just be some good food for thought.

1. You’re not listening

I’m not talking about you being glued to the TV while your partner is pouring his/her heart out. If that’s the case, it should be pretty obvious there is a problem.

Many of us believe we are listening when what we’re actually doing is anxiously and impatiently waiting for our turn to speak. When we “listen” from this perspective, we are not truly listening: we are resisting the anger, despair, anxiety, fear etc. inside of us.

True listening requires awareness of what is going on inside. Only when we are conscious of our inner-workings can we truly hear another person.

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The next time you find yourself listening to your partner, whether in an argument or otherwise, see if you can notice what you’re feeling and thinking in response without having to speak immediately. See if you can allow your significant other to really be heard. Then, accept what’s going on inside you, no matter what the thought or emotion. From there you can speak with rational and relative calm, which brings me to my next point.

2. You’re not speaking up

Many of us carry around little hurts and grudges all our lives. Often, we believe that acknowledging the pain is generally more trouble than it’s worth, and while it may seem like that in the moment, over the years those little indignities pile on top of each other and morph into a mound of resentment. And that is dangerous.

Perhaps there’s something that really bothers you about your partner. Why aren’t you saying anything? Are you afraid they’ll get upset? So what if they do? Maybe they’ll throw a tantrum. Maybe they’ll apologize. Who knows? Would you rather try to deal with it constructively now, or bury it and wait for it to explode out of you in a fit of rage? Let it be a learning process regardless of the outcome. You will thank yourself down the road.

As with listening, look inward. Accept what is there. If there is something that needs to be said, then say it. Understand that this does not mean verbally attack the other person. Calmly state what you’re experiencing in the moment, and don’t let it devolve into accusations, which takes us to number 3.

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3. You’re playing the blame game

We often think, “if only he/she were this way, everything would be fine.” When we think this way, we are imposing an impossible ideal on our partners and we are avoiding the issue at hand: what is going on inside of us, the individual; the one who casts blame.

Remember, your significant other is not you. They are a complex being with their own thoughts, insecurities, dreams, and fears… just like you. Do not be so quick to eschew responsibility.

When you start to blame mentally or verbally, ask yourself if you are avoiding responsibility. Ask yourself if you are being unreasonable. Be honest.  Then, if neither of these gels, don’t be afraid to speak up, and then be prepared to listen. Then, you’re on your way to constructive conversation, unless you fall into the next category.

4. You won’t compromise

This usually occurs in a relationship wherein one or both parties always think they are right. “My way or the highway” won’t fly in a relationship these days (not that it ever really did).

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If you believe you are always right, then you never allow for someone else’s opinion or perspective to enter your mind. You label it preposterous before taking the time to examine it. As such, learning to compromise is a direct result of true listening, speaking, and side-stepping the blame game.

When we learn to listen and speak without fear, then we can develop a real understanding of our own needs as well as the needs of our partner. What follows is mutually beneficial compromise. We learn to live with or without some things for the sake of our relationship, and our partners learn to do the same. In turn, both people feel loved and valued.

Listening, speaking, not blaming, compromising; sounds easy, right? So why don’t we just DO these things? The answer rests with number five.

5. You’re not present

Once again, I do not mean physically. This is the line that ties all of the prior items together. Presence is complete awareness, or consciousness—if you do not find at least some amount of presence, it is impossible to listen, speak, compromise, and avoid the blame game.

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You may have noticed that the suggestions for dealing with each point thus far have been to look inward, see, and accept. THAT is presence: learning how to be with yourself, see the cogs turning, embrace what’s there, and thereby put space around destructive thought and feeling.

The idea is that you must first attend to yourself before you can effectively communicate with or help another person. When we learn to cultivate awareness, we are laying the groundwork to deal with all of the aforementioned issues. Not only that, but difficulties in a relationship can be a gold-mine for this type of work.

One of the best ways to practice being present is meditation. I recommend it to all, however, if you’re not interested in that, or it’s not possible for you, this can be as simple as a few or multiple “breath check-ins” a day. All you need to do is sit quietly for as long as you desire. See if you can put all of your attention on the breath, and see what arises. Don’t judge or resist your inner-workings. Simply accept. Practice this a few times a day, and it will start to become a great habit. This way, when you are in the thick of some painful experience with your significant other, you can access that presence and listen without judgment or impatience, speak with clarity, disperse the urge to blame, and learn to compromise.

Final thoughts

The bottom line is that it all comes down to the individual. Get right with yourself, be present, and you will begin to change the dynamic in the relationship.

Finally, these “reasons” do not necessarily apply to a physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive relationship: If the pain in the relationship has reached that level, I would advise seeking immediate professional help.

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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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