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Old Habits Die Hard: Why You Keep Having the Same Relationship Problems

Old Habits Die Hard: Why You Keep Having the Same Relationship Problems

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in your life—so much of your day is taken up by routines. You wake up, you get ready for the day, you drive to work, you sit at your desk until it’s time to come home. Once you get home, you’re back with your sweetheart, but sometimes, things aren’t so sweet. You have to cook and clean and juggle chores along with your relationship. You’re used to a daily routine, old habits, and that includes your relationships. It’s hard to shake up your relationship and remember why you’re in love.

First Love

Your first relationship is a defining time in your life, whether you date all through school or don’t get started until you’re out in the real world. It’s very telling how you act in the relationship, how you treat your partner, and how you allow your partner to treat you. If you’re just thankful to be in a relationship, you more than likely will let yourself be treated badly, just because you want to have someone. This sets the tone for all later relationships, and it often means you’ll only feel like you’re a person worthy of love when you’re in a relationship—even if there’s no love in the relationship. On the other hand, if you’re not really invested in your first relationship, you might keep the same tone for the future—you might not ever really feel love for your partner, and only be in a relationship because you think it’s what you should be doing. After your first relationship, you might think you keep having the same troubles because it’s always your partner’s fault. In reality, it’s your past that influences how you view both the present and the future. Regardless of how positive or negative your first relationship was, you’re more than likely going to keep choosing a similar partner, if only because that’s your “type.” In order to break your streak of troubled relationships, you don’t have to stray from what you like. You can still go for your “type”; just change your approach to the relationship. Don’t let the past problems make you bitter. Just because you had trouble with an ex doesn’t mean you should take it out on a new partner. Take time to look back at your history: what problems have you had in every relationship? How did you deal with those in the relationship? What can you learn from this? You need to learn your lessons and patch up these problem spaces before moving on.

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Valued Advice

Sometimes it can be hard to see your own problems in relationships. During these times, it’s important to have friends or family members you trust. You need to ask their opinion about your weak points and take their advice to heart. It’s easy, when you’re in a relationship, to feel like anyone who speaks out against your partner is just trying to be mean. In reality, they’re speaking up because they care about you, and they can see your partner or the relationship isn’t right for you. Listen to this. They’re letting you know that what they see what is wrong, and this is the perfect time for you to take a step back and look at your relationship as if you were an outsider. Be objective, and see what seems negative about the situation. If you keep your emotions out of it, you’re able to see what’s going wrong, and you will be able to see a pattern from your past relationships.

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Start Fresh

The easiest solution to most relationship problems is to be happy with yourself. If you love yourself and are happy with your own life, you will be more appealing to your partner. By being happy and having your own life (social, career, and more), you’re ensuring that you’re taking care of yourself and showing that you’re capable of caring for someone else in your life. You have to feel complete and happy each time you start a new relationship, so cut your past free and approach your next relationship with a clean slate.

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Featured photo credit: Morning Shadow via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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