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5 Things People Do That Make Their Relationships Difficult

5 Things People Do That Make Their Relationships Difficult

We grow through our relationship with the world and others. In short, relationships shape us big time. They are a central aspect of our life whether we admit it or not. Relationships are also an enormous source of strength, as they support us emotionally and give us a sense of belonging, love and appreciation.

It is equally true, however, that relationships can be hard to balance and maintain in healthy shape. This is mostly because they can be complex, largely depending on the emotions, needs, intentions, likes and dislikes of the other person we hold a relationship with. Some relationships can grow fragile and difficult over time. Not surprisingly many people give up on their relationship when the road becomes too difficult to thread.  What these people fail to recognise however, is that there are some fundamental things they are doing that have made that relationship difficult in the first place.

These are crucial mistakes we are all subject to overlook even though they are quite basic. Here I have listed the five most common things people do that make their relationship difficult:

They have expectations:

This is what keeps most relationships from growing harmoniously and in balance. People have a long list of expectations of how the other person should behave or respond to their actions, demands and ideas in a given situation. They create a mental model in their head of an ideal their partner needs to follow in order to be in line with their own beliefs and inner desires. When these expectations are not met, conflict arises based on disappointment, grief or frustration. The more expectations one has about the other person, the more chances there are of having those expectations unmet. Dissatisfaction builds up the more they see that the other person deviates away from their own expectations. Sometimes unmet expectations can be shocking or result in anger and resentment. “I thought you would do this for me or for us!! How could you?”  meaning I’m so shocked that your actions did not fit in my expectations of your response.

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People who are in some of the longest, happiest and healthiest relationships will all admit this little secret: They have very little expectations of the other.

They trust, forgive and appreciate the fact that the other person has his or her own individuality, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. They expect less, meaning they are more open to the other person and the relationship as a whole. Also, and equally important, they have less expectations of the relationship itself. They do not have fixed ideas of how the relationship should be or where it should take them. The live it on a day to day basis.

They blame the other:

When people are frustrated because their expectations of the other fail to be matched, they externalise that frustration out to the other. They falsely identify that the cause of their resentment, grief or frustration is the action or behaviour of the other. This is in simple words blaming the other and finding fault outside of their selves. Blaming makes relationships difficult in two major ways.

First and most obviously, it hurts the other person’s feelings. It also sends out a clear message of lack of trust in the person and the relationship itself. It creates tension and friction which might turn that relationship in a downward path.

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The second reason is that it blinds them from tracing part of the fault back to themselves as we shall see in the last point. They fail to see that their own action is always part of the equation. This is one of the hardest things to see in any relationship.

They rationalise too much:

Some people live their relationship in their head instead of their heart. They overanalyse and think too much about how things are going or what they should be doing next. Sometimes they mentally ‘grade’ the health or success of their relationship. They break down their relationship into parts and try to see those parts separately – communication, caring, sex, appearance, parenthood, number of common goals, etc. Their relationship with the other person is constantly assessed and evaluated just like a student’s progress throughout a scholastic year.

The danger with rationalising too much is that it forms expectations and as we saw, expectations create difficulty. More importantly overanalysing pushes people away from allowing the relationship to flow naturally and spontaneously – an important ingredient for growing healthy relationships. It blocks them from responding to the other from their heart because they are filtering their interactions with the other person through the rationalisation of their mind.

They judge too quickly:

Some people tend to judge too quickly even when it is uncalled for. Even with the best of intentions, judging someone is the fastest and most effective way of creating difficulty in any relationship. On many levels, judging is  always erroneous. First of all, you can never make a correct judgment about somebody no matter on the circumstances, the information you think you have at hand and how far off the mark you believe the other person is. The truth is that the feelings and thoughts you might have about someone are always partial at best. Once again feelings and thoughts about somebody are filtered through your own emotions – which are subjective by nature – and through your perspective of the whole picture which is never complete because it wouldn’t be called perspective otherwise :)

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Through judging, people send out a clear message of distrust to the other person. It is like voting down the value they give to the other in a very formal and concrete way. Judgement is also labelling and constricting the freedom of emotional response of the other person because in judging, one is saying “You are this or your are not this”. This shapes or distorts how both parties will view each other and themselves through that relationship in future interactions.

They fail to understand that relationships are  in a constant feedback loop:

All the other things mentioned above that make relationships difficult are born out from one fundamental lack of understanding. The basic principle behind relationships is that  thoughts, actions and words are reflected back through the other person’s response. In very simple words, it takes two to tango!

So what people commonly fail to understand is that the other person’s words and actions come very often as a reaction or response to their own. People’s actions are partial mirrors of ourselves.

Seeing it in another way, when we interact with others, there is always a bit of our actions in theirs because we reflect and respond back to each other’s actions like mirrors.

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Relationships are in a constant feedback loop. Failing to understand this can create all sorts of trouble. Sometimes arguments escalate to dramatic heights because one person’s reaction is reflected back by the other with greater frustration and in turn this creates an even greater reaction and so on until it spirals out of control.

Keeping always in mind that relationships are in a feedback loop can help us open our eyes to avoid all the other things that make a relationship difficult. First it makes us recognise that before blaming or passing judgement, we can always find a part of our own actions reflected in the other’s, no matter how small. This creates more objectivity and balance which in turn helps in avoiding passing judgment or blame too quickly. Secondly and more importantly, with this knowledge of feedback loops in mind we can use it positively to our advantage. People in healthy relationship understand these dynamics very well.

For example, in the argument scenario, when the other person is mad at you because of something, you can hold back from reacting even if you feel you are wrongly accused. This will close the feedback loop in a positive way and soften things up. Soon the other person will find no solid grip for his or her negative emotions  and your calmness and openness to the situation will be reflected back by the other and so on until eventually things equilibrate back into perfect balance.

Featured photo credit: Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

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Gilbert Ross

Gilber is an expert in personal development and the creator of the online course 'Simple Living Hacks'

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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