Relationship Cleansing: 4 Steps To Dealing With Difficult People

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Part of the journey here on this Earth is to experience many different relationships and perspectives. In order to truly grow here we need to understand other people and decide how we want to interact with them. To get to this conclusion we will need to experience all types of relationships. Unfortunately the most common relationships are not always the healthiest ones.

We have all run into people in our lives who have treated us poorly. We have experienced relationships with people who we don’t have an equal give and take with. There are those people that are always asking for help or advice and rarely, if ever, give anything in return. Some may even completely ignore the solicited feedback you provide them but still continue to ask you again and again for advice thus draining your time and energy in the process. If you find yourself experiencing more of these types of relationships then the ones that make you feel safe and supported, then you may want to put yourself through this four step relationship cleanse.

Look Within

We tend to relate to people in the same patterns over and over again until we can recognize and change something within ourselves. This may be because of something we learned via observation, something that was taught to us by a trusted source, or something inside that we haven’t dealt with fully that is causing us to repeat mistakes over and over again. The sooner we can identify the source of the pattern, the sooner we can break the cycle and create healthier relationships. At this point in our lives we should understand that we can’t change people. We can only change ourselves and how we react to other people and situations. Dig back into your past and try to identify any sources of negative relationship patterns. How were your parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle in their relationships? Do you emulate any traits there that are unhealthy or that you’d like to change? Sometimes the traits may be something you can live with if you understand them better and can prepare for them in advance. For example, I tend to feel more comfortable in relationships where I’m needed. Being needed isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you make your relationship all about the other person and cater to their needs only, as I tended to do. Realizing this pattern within myself led me to understand that I would reduce myself and my needs in a relationship until I couldn’t take it anymore. At that point, I would try to correct my mistake by demanding what I deserved from the start. I was asking my partner to change who they were and their patterns which is not fair or reasonable to do. This led to much heartbreak, failed relationships, and marriages. Once I understood this about myself, I realized that I could choose a person whom I felt needed by, however, I could also make my needs clear up front as well.

Audit Your Current Relationships Now that you have gone deep below the surface to explore your past relationships, you can begin to take stock of your current relationships and see if there is any cleansing to be done. You have come to understand your healthy and unhealthy patterns for selecting a mate, partner, or friend and the role you assume in your relationships. You may have unhealthy relationships with friends, coworkers, or family members as well as with lovers or partners. Some people may take more than they give but you always expect something different from them. There may be manipulation or even mental abuse in certain relationships that you have been enduring. Now is the time to list out all of your closest most valued relationships and identify them as healthy or unhealthy. Some may need bridges mended and others may be irreparable. All of it is okay and it is not fair to judge yourself too harshly here. Before you reach this step you should already have realized that you have made mistakes. The key is not to reprimand yourself too aggressively. The point of the mistakes of the past is to learn and adapt moving forward. No matter how many times you have to experience the mistake to learn the lesson the concept stays the same. The knowledge is still gained so don’t punish yourself for the past. Recognize the lesson and identify going forward what changes need to be made. Then get the scissors and tape and start cutting and mending those relationships that need the work. What is also important to note at this juncture is, honor those relationships that are healthy and solid. Recognize and appreciate those people that have always stuck by you. The ones that make you feel better, the people that raise you up.

Set Relationship Standards

And, the fun begins. I like this stage the best. It is in this step where you create your ideal relationships in your head and on paper. List out the qualities in a relationship that give you satisfaction. Think of how you want to be treated by lovers, partners, friends and family. What types of activities would you like to engage in together? How are they with you? Do you want to be listened to? do you want to be entertained? Do you want to feel heard and understood? Write down all of the attributes and feelings that you want all of your relationships to embody. You may set different standards for each type of relationship and that is fine too. With family it can be a bit more difficult. We don’t get to choose our family and we may not want to just cut them out of our lives. In dealing with familial relationships, you will need to decide what type of behavior you will accept and not accept from them. This may mean limiting time spent with them if they don’t meet certain standards.This may also mean setting looser or minimal standards with family then you do with friends and partners. Since we can’t change other people, all we can do is adjust how we respond to the same behavior they already exhibit. When you begin changing how you respond to the same discussions, arguments, etc, you may encounter confusion, or conflict on the part of the other party. This is all to be expected and you shouldn’t let this back you down. Good, healthy, relationships take effort and it is up to you to decide how much work you are willing to put into it. Some relationships are not meant to be and may have run their course. Mourn the loss and move on in respect for yourself and your newly discovered standards.

Create Healthy Boundaries

In the same line as setting standards, it is equally important to set healthy boundaries. These boundaries will keep you from breaking the standards you have established. This will also help you recognize when someone is not going to be a good fit for you. If you encounter coworkers, or friends of friends, or any new relationship it is an opportunity to exercise healthy boundaries. Those that continually bump up against your boundaries should be told this is not a behavior or activity that you engage in or accept. Once you begin defending your position and setting up your perimeter you may find some people put off by it and others showing you great amounts of respect for it. These boundaries and standards allow you to begin to cleanse out the unhealthy people in your life and allow for new healthy people to come in. It is not easy to defend your position, it will not feel natural at first but you will adapt and it will get easier each time you practice. The people around you will push you or applaud you but they will be affected by your new behaviors. When you meet conflict it is important to hold to your standards, in a non-confrontational way, and to recognize that the other person is resisting change. This isn’t anyone’s fault. It is going to be a hard adjustment for everyone involved but ultimately you are the only one that knows what you need. It is your sole responsibility to protect and defend yourself against those that may compromise your vision. As with anything new we try, you will run into bumps and difficulties, but stay strong and keep at it. A healthier you awaits.

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Happy building my lovelies, until we meet again, take care.

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