During These Turbulent Times, Here’s How We Talk About Race in Our Interracial Relationship

Tips for turning an uncomfortable conversation about race into an opportunity for growth.
MAPODILE/GETTY IMAGES

The ironic thing about being in an interracial relationship is how rarely race comes up. When my partner and I fell in love, I wasn’t falling in love with a white man, and he wasn’t falling in love with a Black woman. It was just a man and a woman falling in love.

And unlike the groundbreaking show Mixed-ish, portraying a married interracial couple raising three biracial children, not every disagreement that comes up between us is a “learning moment” on cultural sensitivity or ways to fight racism. Discord for us is like most couples: differences of opinion, being triggered by something the other did or said, old emotional wounds, adjusting to 24/7 quarantine togetherness, or just being desperately hungry.

Race so seldom plays a role in our day-to-day lives. However, following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, and the subsequent protests, the whole issue of race became amplified as we grappled with these issues and complex feelings.

Coming from different cultural backgrounds and different ideologies can be a cause for some tense conversations around the targeting of Black people, police violence, and systemic racism.

Here are some things we do to take the heat out of talking about race.

To love, accept, and validate

Years ago we listed things we felt were important in keeping our relationship strong. Those things have become our communication vows: to love and accept each other and to validate one another’s emotional experiences. So rather than rush in to fix a problem, we try our best to listen first, ask questions second.

Without that kind of understanding in place, tough conversations would be almost impossible, particularly those touching on subjects as potentially volatile as race, police violence, and social justice.

The astonishing thing is that by now, these “vows” have become the invisible backdrop behind our talks, so we can fall into a place of listening with acceptance without thinking about it. This comes in handy when one of us voices frustration and the other is just able to take it in without needing to do anything about it.

If this doesn’t come easily for you (and it didn’t for us for a while) you can start with these 7 ways to be more accepting of your partner.

Actively listen

These conversations usually happen when we’re hanging out in our front yard or sitting together on the couch and the subject turns to the following: “So, how are you doing with all this stuff in the news?”

During those times, when we delve into tougher feelings, we aim for being a better listener by staying in the moment. This means putting down the book or the phone, blocking out the distractions of neighbors walking by, and fully giving our attention to the other. Here’s how couples can become better listeners and strengthen their relationships.

Listen to understand the other’s point of view

It can be challenging when we disagree on something we feel strongly about. The way we try to improve our communication at those times is to take a step back and start asking questions to better understand the other person’s point of view. It doesn’t mean that we’ll end up agreeing, but it lessens confusion and defensiveness when we can understand why the other thinks the way they do.

So, as we discuss our reactions to Floyd’s killing and the protests, we may ask the other, “How did you come to think that or feel that way?” And it’s not uncommon that it’s the first time we’ve had to think about how we formed some ideas on a specific issue.

My background of living in predominately Black neighborhoods until my teens and then predominately non-Black neighborhoods thereafter shaped my feelings on how Black people are treated. Similarly, his upbringing of being raised in a predominately Polish neighborhood in an area where different ethnicities kept to themselves, shaped his feelings on how people from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds treated each other.

We both grew up in segregated environments and were exposed to ideas and beliefs about other races that reflected our environments. Some of those ideas we abandoned if they didn’t fit our concept of the world and some we’ve kept.

To hear the other’s perspective, self-reflect on, and challenge ideologies we hold helps us refine our thoughts and see a wider picture of the world.

While it would be a tall order for him to feel what I’ve experienced as a Black woman or for me to feel what he’s experienced as a white man regarding racism, we can show empathy by striving to understand the context within which certain beliefs and opinions were formed.

Don’t worry about being politically correct

Whereas we want to be cognizant of each other’s feelings, playing nice by being politically correct doesn’t work. For one thing, that’s not our style. More importantly, though, being politically correct has no place in a frank discussion about race within our relationship.

We call it as we see it because of our core belief that our relationship is a safe place to be real.

So, when we’re talking about things we’re seeing on the news, there are things that are just unequivocal: These are images of white cops killing Black men or these are images of Black people looting businesses downtown. We don’t dance around the issue.

MAPODILE/GETTY IMAGES

Keep the dialogue flowing even if we hit a sore spot

To say that talking about race doesn’t press some sensitive buttons would be a lie. The worst thing to do, though, is to clam up and stop talking (or stonewall) because we’ve become upset. That can lead to passive-aggression and resentment. Or the opposite: speaking out of anger and saying things you should never say to your spouse or partner.

What we do instead is keep talking until both have stated their point of view and if we can’t come to an agreement, let it go and move on.

What I’ve seen happen in our conversations is that when we hit upon a provocative issue like where to draw the line between social reform and community responsibility (or if such a delineation is even useful), after a couple of turns in sharing our thoughts and hearing the other person out, we’ll eventually get to, “Yeah, I see what you’re saying.”

Be all right with opposing opinions

We have to be all right with the other person having a different opinion because we’ll never agree on everything 100 percent. Since we base opinions on feelings or ideologies and not facts, they can be contentious if we hold on to them firmly.

Knowing that we try to be clear by saying: “This is just my feeling; I’m not saying it’s a fact or that it’s even right. It’s just how I feel.”

When it comes to discussing things like social justice, we both have opinions on what should be done to address the issues, the points that should take priority, and who should shoulder responsibility for what.

And since we are not part of a governing body, but a couple having a conversation on their couch, it’s just better to allow for the fact that we see some things differently.

Build on common ground

Because discussions about race and social justice can be fraught with tension, we’re sensitive to jump on things we agree on. We take some fire out of the conversation and reestablish our connection by taking a moment to acknowledge the points where we overlap and say, “You’re right about that, or I agree with what you just said.” Those moments feel more affirming than the moments of asserting our individual point of view.

An easy point for us to agree on is that the protests are good for raising awareness, propelling social reform, and showing global solidarity against racial injustice; while looting is untenable and deplorable, detracts from the movement, and gives those who already hate people of color evidence to prop up their hatred.

Come from a place of mutual respect

We can easily reduce differences of opinion on race within a group of acquaintances by saying, “s/he just doesn’t get it” and writing the person off. Within a couple, though, where you have history and know this person intimately, you also know the following: 1.) They have a genuine interest in doing the right thing and 2.) Dismissal would be disrespectful and damaging to the connection.

One of the signs that your relationship is solid as a rock, is your mutual respect of each other. One way we show that is in the value we place on our connection and the steps we take to keep that connection strong.

Mind you, these conversations don’t go perfectly every time. We’re human and sometimes we don’t get the words right. However, we know that we’re coming from a place of wanting to understand, to be understood, and to gain a wider perspective.

These could be some of the hardest conversations interracial couples have and as we move through this moment in history together, it’s important to remember that we’re on the same team.

On the macro-level, as we hold conversations across cultures in the United States, the same holds true: We’re on the same team.

Next, read how to support the Black Lives Matter movement and become anti-racist.

For more on this important issue, see our guide to the Fight Against Racism.

[Article first published on Reader’s Digest.]

~~~~

Tamara Jefferies MA is a freelance wellness writer and holistic counselor/coach based in Long Beach, CA. She has worked in the wellness field since 2005 and holds a Master’s in Somatic Psychology from John F. Kennedy University, several certifications in the specialization of trauma and trauma resolution, and is a certified yoga teacher and holistic practitioner offering transformational counseling to women.

Writing on topics that help women heal, grow, and live fulfilled and happy lives is her passion as is writing for wellness businesses, publications, and brands. She is a regular contributing writer to the wellness brand, The Candidly, and a Brand Ambassador to ADORAtherapy.

Contact her at info@growandthrivewellness.com for all your wellness writing or counseling needs.

Or just fill out the form below.

Be Well!

What To Do With All These Emotions – How giving shape to your feelings helps you to process them.

A demonstrator stands during a march in central Auckland, New Zealand, Monday, June 1, 2020, to protest the death of United States’ George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd, who after a white police officer who is now charged with murder, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. (Dean Purcell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

The shape of your feelings…

Despair has a shape. Outrage has a shape. As do anger, fear, rage, or terror.

Our bodies are fully integrated vessels that are able to feel and process and move emotions healthily if we allow them to. The problem is when we hold back, hold in, or lash out.

When given time and the proper space, we can feel and express our feelings in a way that completely discharges the emotion and does no harm.

With emotions running so high right now, one thing we can do is allow ourselves to move our emotions in a healthy, productive, and healing way.

You can do this individually, and there is also a way to do this communally that could bring deep healing.

It begins with the ability to identify and speak your feeling. What are you feeling? Anger, rage, outrage, despair?

Say it out loud to another person. They don’t have to do anything in return other than show that they are listening. If you are alone, write it down, and say it to yourself. If it helps,  look at yourself in the mirror as you speak your feelings.

Next, give the feeling a shape. That is, let your body move in the way that will express the feeling.

Despair can look like you balled up in the fetal position rocking yourself side to side.

Outrage can look like you flinging your arms and legs, kicking, or punching as if you were shadowboxing but with all your energy invested into each motion.

The key is to listen to your body. Once you’ve spoken your feelings, listen to what your body wants to do to move the emotion.

In community, the most powerful way of doing this is in a circle. Allow a person (the doer)  to be in the center of the circle with one other person (the witness) who is listening to them and holding space for their movement. The witness can mimic the movement of the doer and in this mirroring relay the feeling of being seen and understood to the doer. All the while those sitting in the circle witness and hold the container for this emotional process.

If alone or in a group, give your body the time it needs to move in any way it needs to move to fully express your emotions. You’ll know when it’s over because your body will feel calm and the emotion will have subsided. You will feel more at peace.

Give shape to your emotions and feel them move through your body.

 In this way, you will have restored wellbeing to your mind, body, and spirit. Not just to yourself, but to your community as well.

If You Do This One Thing You Have A Higher Chance Of Getting Divorced

(Article first published on The Candidly.)

bench-nature-love-people-50592

I’m not even going to make you scroll to get to what the “one thing” is.

It’s sarcasm.

But sarcasm is fun! It’s funny! It’s easy! People boast about how “sarcastic” they are on their Hinge profiles to show what a great hang they are!

But using sarcasm with your partner during conflict is completely ineffective, distancing, maddening, unhelpful, and turns out to be one of the biggest predictors of divorce.

John Gottman, psychologist and author of loads of books dealing with marriage and relationships, says the reason the use of sarcasm is so threatening to a long-term relationship is that it’s a clear sign of contempt. And where there’s contempt in a relationship there is the loss of appreciation, admiration, and respect. According to biggest predictors of divorce, when we’ve reached this phase it’s as though we “can’t remember a single positive quality or act.” Which is just about the time that sarcasm rears its head.

However, before things get that bad, before we jump into the boat of contempt together, there can be other reasons we use sarcasm in our relationships. Namely? Fear. We are afraid of our partner’s rejection, judgment, ridicule, or abandonment.

Another common reason is that we’re just not very good at talking about our feelings because we just don’t have the words. Likely because we also can’t identify our feelings. By not having a sufficient vocabulary for our emotions, even if we wanted to express ourselves honestly, we can’t. One of the first skills Gottman teaches couples to improve their communication is “being able to put one’s feelings into words.”

Whatever reason you may have for being sarcastic toward your partner, just know that sarcasm damages romantic relationships. Period. So what if sarcasm has become your norm? Read this.

So how do we keep sarcasm from ruining our relationships?

1.    Awareness.

The first step to stopping sarcasm from wrecking your relationship is being aware of it in the first place. Start noticing when you use sarcasm. And start noticing why you used it. Is it used jokingly? Or is it used passive-aggressively? This can look and sound like a joke but you can feel the cut underneath it. Like, ‘Thanks, honey, you were soooo helpful.’ And you can hear the salt in your voice. That’s passive-aggressive.

2. Notice

The next step is to give yourself a minute. In the moment between your partner doing something that bothered you and you shooting back a sarcastic cut-down, there is a gap. In this space is your power to choose a different response.

When you’re caught in being reactive, then you will speak without thinking. Once you’re aware of what’s happening, you get to take a moment before you react.

Here’s an alternative to being sarcastic in that moment. When you sense a sarcastic comment about to explode from your mouth, stop. Take a breath. And notice what you’re feeling inside.

For example, say you had something happen in your career that you’re stoked about. The first person you want to share your excitement with is your partner. But when you do, they dismiss it as no big deal. They are not there for you to share your excitement or your pride. That can sting. You feel hurt and let down. Instead of saying that though, you say as sarcastically as possible, ‘Thanks for your support.’

Then you wait. Did it register? The baffled look on their face says no. You walk away feeling crushed.

3. Speak up.

Once you’re in touch with what you’re feeling, say it to your partner. It could be as simple as, ‘Wow, you know, I’m noticing that my chest feels really tight. I feel like I just had the wind knocked out of me.’

Your partner might look at you a little puzzled. They may not respond or they might ask why. You may notice that now your heart is racing and you’re feeling nervous because now you’re on the spot. It’s okay. Just keep breathing and keep noticing without trying to change what you’re feeling or dismissing it.

You might add something like, ‘I was really excited to share my news with you and I was hoping you’d be excited too and when you weren’t, I felt sad.’

It could be as simple as that.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that just because it’s simple it’s not also scary as shit; it can be terrifying to admit our true feelings so frankly.

What I can say is, get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Sarcasm is the shield we put up when we don’t want to deal with discomfort. To be real about your feelings is to be uncomfortable and to risk being uncomfortable in front of your partner. It’s that kind of vulnerability and openness that creates closeness. While sarcasm only creates distance. Sarcasm can become a habit. And with any habit it takes time to change.

4. Build your vocab of “feeling words.” 

If you struggle to find the right words in describing how you feel, a great resource to start with is the Non-Violent Communication site, based on the book of the same name. It gives a handy download called the “Feelings Inventory” to help us better express ourselves.

5. Talk with your partner.

Arrange a time for you and your partner to talk. Talk openly about the ways you’ve used sarcasm to mask uncomfortable emotions. Or if it’s your partner who is the more sarcastic one, still frame the conversation around how you would like to have more honest and effective communication. And share how their sarcasm has affected you.

Bring up ways you haven’t been showing up as you would like. Because let’s be real, if your partner is sarcastic there is a possibility that you haven’t been showing up for them how they’d like. I know, it stings to hear it but it’s probably true.

By being the first to volunteer where you feel you’ve fallen short, you open an invitation for your partner to follow suit and express their feelings as well. Unless you’re dealing with a narcissist. But that’s a conversation for another time.

Our relationships offer us incredible opportunities to share life, love, and growth. Hiding behind sarcasm robs us of these moments and makes having a close relationship a challenge. Life can be challenging enough on its own. Make your relationship a safe place by being real about your feelings and encouraging your partner to do the same.

Moms: Exactly How To Let Go Of Negative Self-Talk

person-holding-white-ceramic-mug-with-lemon-near-book-and-1065588.jpg

(First published on The Candidly.)

Recently, my mom was lamenting mistakes she made as a mother while my brothers and I were kids. It broke my heart. It was such a moving example of what so many moms do, which is to beat themselves up for the mistakes they made or believe they are making as mothers.

Beyond that layer of regret, however, lays a deeper, more persistent thought process of negative self-talk. It’s a process of constant self-berating that adds up to ‘I’m not good enough.’ I’m not a good enough mother. I’m just not good enough, period.

Sometimes the flood of negative inner chatter can be such a constant, that it’s hard to imagine a time without it.

If you grew up in a household of highly critical and judgmental people, then you most likely absorbed all of it like a sponge, internalizing it and on a subconscious level, turning it into your own inner critic.

So how do you talk to yourself? Do you hear harsh voices saying, ‘You’re terrible at this!’, ‘You always mess things up!’ or do you hear, ‘It’s not that bad. And everything is gonna be ok’?

If it’s the former, your inner voice might be carrying the pain and negativity of the voices who spoke to you with such judgment. Though this is just an article on the internet, here’s our attempt to give you the tools to break that pattern and avoid creating a similarly shaming internal voice for your own kids.

Your negative self-talk is not you.

Who was it in your household that was critical or judgmental of you? One of your parents? A sibling? Did they consistently undercut your confidence or intelligence? Or were their comments geared toward your appearance, like ‘it’s too bad you’ll never be as beautiful as your sister’ or ‘maybe you should skip dessert tonight.’

Comments like these brutally undermine a child’s sense of self. If that kind of talk was constant in your life, then you most likely internalized those messages until you began saying those things to yourself, and potentially, to your own child.

Here’s the thing—those thoughts aren’t yours. They were never yours. They belonged to whoever planted them in your head. The trouble is that after years of living with such harsh inner self-talk, it’s hard to recognize it as someone’s else’s shit, and let it go.

How to stop negative self-talk.

There is no quick fix or shortcut to undo a recording that was made decades ago and has been playing on loop ever since. It’s a process to unlearn toxic thinking, but you can do it.

When I started this work for myself (and trust me, it took a while for me to figure it out), it was as if I had a chorus in my head shouting terrible things to me on the regular. As I worked on it, the chorus shrank to four or five distinct voices that I named, like “Doomsday Sayer.” With a little more work, even those voices dwindled to (what I like to describe as) two guys sitting on a couch playing video games who would occasionally lift their heads to shout ‘You Suck!’ and then go back to their gaming. And today, fortunately, even they have retired.

The first step is awareness. For some, beating ourselves up is like being a fish in water—it’s all that we know. These thoughts are deep-seated in your subconscious and operating independently of your control.

The next step is to interrupt the thought. It’s a habit, and like any habit, if you’re able to throw a wrench in it, you can loosen the grip the habit has on you.

To interrupt a negative thought like, ‘I always mess things up,’ as soon as the ‘I always…’ starts say, ‘Stop’ or ‘Interrupt’ out loud or silently to yourself. The simpler the command the better. I will make a random noise or say something out loud that is completely nonsensical just to interrupt a thought that I don’t want taking root.

Interrupt it. Then replace it.

This is where a mindfulness approach really pays off. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. After you have interrupted the thought, become aware of what you are doing at that moment and give it your full attention. Say to yourself, ‘I’m washing dishes’ or ‘I’m driving to work.’

Whatever you are doing, become completely present with it. This alone can break the power of a negative thought at that moment. If the voice starts again, gently bring your attention back to what you are doing.

A word on affirmations.

Some suggest affirmations overcome negative self-talk. However, it can be hard to jump from thoughts like ‘I’m a worthless piece of shit’ to ‘I’m beautiful, I’m powerful, and I can do anything,” and actually believe it. Affirmations can feel forced and phony if you’re not feeling them.

Instead of reciting an affirmation that feels remote and disconnected, create new thoughts that are true, like ‘I’m getting better’ or ‘I’m improving.’ Those at least feel honest because you can point to something concrete in your life that you’ve improved at with time and repetition. Remind yourself of your own progress, and use that to remember how you are always getting better at something.

Create affirmative self-talk through loving-kindness.

To counter limiting judgments, we must challenge them with reality and replace them with more life-affirming beliefs. If you are constantly hard on yourself, then you are in need of a big dose of loving-kindness in the form of self-appreciation.

Here are two simple exercises that can help you cultivate self-appreciation:

IF THESE HANDS COULD TALK

 

 

Take a minute and look down at your hands. Lift them up to eye-level and look at the backs of them then turn them around and look at your palms.

 

 

 

While looking at them, think of all the things your hands do in a day. They do so much—provide care, comfort, tenderness, pick up children, groceries, the dry cleaning, prepare meals, type emails, reports, contracts, articles, etc. You do a lot. And each day you get up and do it all again.

Take a moment to appreciate them. Acknowledge all that you do and give and are to the people in your life.

CREATING NEW BELIEFS

stil-N9uOrBICcjY-unsplash.jpg

Take a blank piece of paper and draw a line down the middle dividing the page into two columns. On the top left write ‘Old Beliefs’ and on the top right, ‘New Beliefs.’

Under the Old Beliefs heading, start to list the first five self-criticisms that come to mind. Then on the right side, come up with alternative thoughts that are affirming and make you feel good.

Example:

Old Beliefs: I must be thin to deserve love.

New Beliefs: I deserve love regardless of how I look.

Old Beliefs: I always mess things up.

New Beliefs: If I make a mistake, I learn from it and do better the next time.

Old Beliefs: I’m screwing up my kids.

New Beliefs: I love my kids and I’m good enough.

The goal is to identify, challenge, and replace limiting beliefs in the form of negative self-talk into more constructive ones.

Why do any of this?

If you’ve been living under the weight of negative self-talk without realizing it, you may not have recognized how tiring it is. Churning out novels of diminishing thoughts uses a lot of energy. It can drag you down, zap your joy, and make life feel like a slog. It’s a burden. And for any parents out there, you need all the energy you can muster.

Don’t forget that your criticism isn’t limited to yourself. Chances are, if you’re super critical of yourself, then you are also critical of those around you, such as your children and spouse or partner.

Remember that person who criticized you in your childhood? You might be doing the same thing to the people in your own life without intending to.

That’s why it’s so important to transform our negative self-talk so we aren’t putting that crap on the people we love.

Modeling a Positive Alternative

Your kids soak up everything you say and do. The example you set both explicitly and implicitly will become the foundation that will dictate how they feel about themselves and how they interact with others.

If you constantly berate yourself in their presence, they will internalize that and learn to berate themselves too. To make matters worse, if your self-criticism has become criticism of them or the things they do, this can lead to feelings of low self-worth and low self-esteem.

Thus, it’s crucial to model positive self-confidence. Start by being kind to yourself in front of your children and avoid saying self-critical things in their presence.

Say, for example, you burn dinner one night because you are distracted by other things going on in the house. Instead of cruelly chastising yourself (‘I’m such an idiot!’) in front of your kids, you could take a breath, let out a laugh and say, ‘Looks like it’s sandwiches tonight, kids. Mom goofed.’ And ps, they’ll probably be thrilled.

In that moment, you’ve shown your kids that everyone makes mistakes, it’s not the end of the world, and that there is a solution. Instead of being self-critical, you showed yourself compassion. Your kids will pick up on that.

The negative self-talk that you’ve lived with for years is a learned behavior. The good news is that it can be unlearned. By interrupting the old thoughts and replacing them with life-affirming ones, by practicing loving-kindness and self-appreciation, you are teaching yourself the behavior of self-love.

Most importantly, you’re teaching self-love and positive self-regard to your kids. And there might be nothing more important than that.

When Is It Time To Let A Relationship Go?

coupples-arguing

Good Day, Dear Reader,

Today I’d like to talk to you about when it’s time to let a relationship go. We are talking about all types of relationships be they romantic, platonic, work related, or even familial.

A hard truth that is often a painful pill to swallow is that at some point, what was once good for you outgrows its usefulness and becomes something that holds you back. In terms of relationships, this can look like anything from a general lack of support to being caught up in a toxic (romantic or platonic) relationship that only seems to block you, tear you down, or take your energy.

Do you know what I mean?

When is it time to let a friendship go?

Years ago, I had a girlfriend who I would hang-out with from time to time. At the end of our visits, I began to notice that I would have a headache and feel drained. I began to pay attention to our dynamic and what I noticed was that whenever we would be talking about something she would always say something to “one-up” me. For example, if I said that I went for a hike the day before, she would respond with, “Oh yeah! I’ve been to that spot! Me and my boyfriend used to go there all the time.” No matter what I would say she would tie it to something she had done in the past with a boyfriend in the past and how great it was.

02-crowd-Boring-Habits-of-boring-people_561922549-Antonio-Guillem-760x506
Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

This kind of conversation can seem benign on the surface but when you start paying attention to people who talk like this, you quickly realize just how tedious, tiresome, and boring this kind of talk is. In a group of people, when one person monopolizes the conversation in this way by always bringing the subject back to themselves, you will notice people in the group shifting in their seats, averting their eyes, or zoning out in some way.

Few enjoy the company of a self-centered person.

Eventually, I began spending less and less time with this friend.

I use this example to get you to think about anyone in your life who may be like that.

More recently, I was speaking with a friend and she was explaining how she was noticing that many of her relationships, particularly those at work, were very one-sided. She found herself reaching out to her coworkers who had become friends and offering them her support and not seeing any of that support returned. She was the one stopping by their offices to say, ‘Hi!’ or see if they needed help with anything. Many would take her up on her offers for help but none would return it. She had come to a place where that was no longer acceptable. She wanted reciprocity and if her coworkers weren’t willing to do that then she decided to distance herself from them.

I agree. If your relationship feels one-sided where you are the one showing up, offering support, and staying in touch more than the other person then you are in an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship. Such an imbalance can only foster resentment and anger or at best indifference. You won’t stay interested for long in a person who shows little interest in you. Eventually, the connection will dwindle into nothing.

That is unless both people are invested in nurturing it.

The failing of relationships lies partly in one or both parties taking it for granted. This can be disastrous in friendship and devastating in a romantic relationship.

Our closest bonds must be continually nurtured with care, attentiveness, and appreciation.

But what if the relationship that has soured is in your family?

When family ties no longer support you, when do you cut them?

I have come to see that the old adage, “Blood is thicker than water” doesn’t hold water. Some times our blood relatives can be the most problematic for us.

For instance, I had a counseling client who had come to see a very destructive pattern in her family – holding grudges. She traced it to her father’s side of the family and saw how that behavior of holding grudges had filtered down to her siblings. It was so severe that few of the siblings had any contact with each other at all. And when they did talk it would just degrade into vicious and hurtful words.

BOXING FAMILY

At some point, she had to make a decision for herself that no matter how much she would like for her family to be close and bury those hatchets, it most likely wasn’t going to happen. And if she wanted to preserve her peace of mind the best thing she could do was to wish them well and go on living her life.

It’s never easy and often quite painful to discover that your family ties are not supportive of you. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make peace with that. I heard someone say, “Family is where there is love.” That rang so true to me.

Unfortunately, sometimes we are born into a family that does not love us, does not know how to love us, and does not want to learn how to love us. In those cases, as soon as we are able, we must create a family of our own. And that can be your friends, your pets, your spouse or partner, or whomever you choose to be your “family of choice” rather than your family of origin.

Your family is where you are loved and where you are safe to love.

So far we’ve talked about friends and family. Let’s move on to romantic relationships.

When is it time to let go of a romantic relationship?

broken heart
Pixabay

This one can be a hard one to see. Usually, we are so deep in our relationships that we can become blind to the indicators that things aren’t right.

This can be particularly true of those who have a strong sense of loyalty or a value system that says to work things out rather than bail out.

We can find ourselves struggling in bad relationships for far too long.

So how do you know when it’s time to end it?

Ask yourself some questions –

  1. Are you two fighting a lot?
  2. Are you avoiding one another?
  3. Do you feel better when you are apart?
  4. Do you feel emotionally supported, cared for, respected, and loved? If not, how long have you felt this way?
  5. Is this relationship supporting you in reaching your life goals?
  6. Do you feel like the relationship is keeping you from doing, having, or being what you want?
  7. Do you think about leaving but are afraid to? Perhaps it’s financial? Or perhaps it’s fear of loneliness?
  8. Is there any kind of abuse happening – physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, financial?

How did you do with those questions? What came up for you?

Did you notice that I did not ask about infidelity?

There is a reason for this.

I have seen that infidelity in marriage is not a reason in and of itself to divorce. It is generally a sign of other problems in the marriage. And if the couple is willing to work on those issues then they can usually repair the damage caused by the infidelity and move past it.

If you are not married, however, and involved exclusively with someone and they are unfaithful then that is probably a pretty good sign that person won’t be monogamous in marriage and its best to let them go.

Ending a relationship can be one of the most emotionally painful experiences a person can go through. It can leave you feeling like a part of you is missing. But if you are in a relationship that is bringing you down rather than building you up and you’ve talked to your partner about it and they are unwilling to make suitable changes then the best thing you can do is respect yourself enough not to put up with it any longer. Cut your losses and end it. It will hurt but you will recover.

Lastly, I want to talk about work.

When is it time to leave that old job behind?

First, you need to figure out your career goals. What do you want for yourself in terms of a career and lifestyle? Is your current job helping you achieve that? Maybe your current position isn’t but is there a place somewhere else in the company that might? If so, talk to your boss or supervisor about your career goals and work with them to create a career development plan that will put you on track for promotion or transfer.

PLANNING WORK
Pixabay: Rawpixel.com

If you answered no to the above questions then it might be time to take a good hard look at your life and where it’s going. If you’re at a dead-end job, find a way out. Start applying elsewhere. Take classes to improve your skill set and make yourself a stronger candidate for a new job. Start talking to people in your social circles about jobs. See if they know of any openings that might interest you.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Life rewards those who are brave enough to risk going after what they really want.

I wish to leave you with this thought: Don’t settle for any relationship that does not feed you in positive ways whether it’s a friend, family member, partner, or job.

Go where you are nurtured.

Go where you are supported.

Go where you are loved, respected, and appreciated.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Be sure to join me next time when we will talk about the power of your thoughts. You can create exactly the life you want for yourself. It all depends on your thoughts. We’ll go deeper into this next time.

~~~~

O.k. my friends, until next we meet, take care!

Peace unto you.

Peace in your mind.

Peace in your body.

Peace in your surroundings.

Peace to all.

May there be peace all over the world forever.

 

Tamara

© 2019 Tamara Jefferies, Wellness Expert and Holistic Life Coach

 

Are you facing a crossroad and having a hard time figuring out which way to go? Are you feeling stuck and not sure why? I help women get out of those stuck places, unleash their worth, and get on their way to creating the life they want. I’d love to help you, too!

Call 657-464-7297 or Email tamara@tamarajefferies.com, today!