I’m sure every one of us has had a difficult relationship of some kind: a controlling boss, an uncooperative co-worker, a troublesome family member, an overly needy, drama-magnet friend. While we may not be able to completely remove those trying people from our lives, we would all do well to concentrate on nurturing more positive relationships.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to minimize your exposure to stressful relationships. Now, I am not advocating that you go out and quit your job without another one lined up just because your boss is a jerk. And while we may sometimes wish that we could, we cannot choose our relatives. Sometimes the best we can do is try to limit the amount of time we have to spend dealing with the difficult ones. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the article, there are some great suggestions in How to Handle Your High-Maintenance Friends and Family Without Losing Your Mind.
But perhaps a simpler objective is to truly invest in your positive relationships. Think of the people who make you smile. Those who make you want to be a better you. Those who lift you up and encourage you, but are also willing to advise you when you are wandering from where you should be. Those who are always willing to share your joys and sorrows. Those who can pick up right where you left off, even when it’s been a while since you talked.
Knowing that we SHOULD nurture those relationships and actually making it happen are two different things, however. In the frantic busy-ness of modern society, it’s hard to stay connected, even when we have the best of intentions. I find this especially difficult, when being a primary caregiver to an elderly family member seems to take up every minute of every day. Even before my granny moved in, caring for a toddler and a teen suffering from debilitating migraines while she’s trying to finish high school was quite an absorbing task.
I think this is why I so appreciate those friends who don’t get angry or hurt when they don’t hear from me in a while. I can go quite a few days without being on line at all, and I miss all of the FaceBook updates on what’s going on in their lives. I just flat out don’t make it out of the house often, unless it’s for a doctor’s appointment.
I’m trying to get a little better at sending a quick message or text that says, “Hey, I was just thinking of you”. Even if I don’t have time for a coffee date or an extended phone conversation, these little chances to reconnect help, especially when I hear back from those individuals who never fail to make me smile.
Try not to let it go too long without reaching out to those people that brighten your life. While you don’t want to become the “overly needy, drama-magnet friend”, you also don’t want to let a great friendship wither because you let the daily grind get in the way. And don’t completely abandon the face-to-face moments, even when you really have to work to make them happen. Nothing is as uplifting as a simple hug, a smile, and an “I missed you.”
How do you minimize the stress that difficult relationships bring? How do you manage to stay connected to those who give you a boost, even when you’re really swamped?