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How to De-Clutter Your Relationships

Apr 13, 2008
Relationships can benefit from a good 'spring cleaning.' It gets rid of the clutter.

Why not toss out things you've been stockpiling? You could chuck misunderstandings. Hurl your hurt feelings. Donate anger and resentments.

Even small misunderstandings will lead to hurt feelings. Someone says or does something (or neglects to say or do it.) The other person takes it personally. Feelings get hurt. Anger takes over. Before you know it, resentment begins to creep into every nook and cranny.

And your relationship gets de-railed.

This is exactly what happened between Allison and Terry. Allison found herself getting upset whenever Terry came home later than agreed upon.

Allison would worry and the anxiety would build. By the time Terry walked through the door, she blasted all of her stockpiled fury. Right between the eyes. She recited a litany of all the times it happened.

Even when Terry attempted to call if he was running late, Allison acted hurt. Even when he made sincere attempts to arrive at the agreed upon time, Allison acted as if he was behaving badly yet again.

Finally she gathered the courage to talk with Terry directly, honestly and sincerely. She told him how hurt and disrespected she felt each time he was late.

When she put words to her feelings Allison began clearing out her built up resentment. She discovered space was opening up. Enough space where she and Terry could bring positive feelings, respect and energy back into their relationship.

Think for a moment about how much space resentment takes up. Sometimes there is barely room for connection or intimacy.

Clearing out resentments creates the space we need to renew respect and get back on track.

This goes for work relationships too. The roadblocks to successful relationships are the same: Feeling rejected or the fear of rejection. Feeling misunderstood, disappointed and not appreciated.

A key to productive relationships is mutual respect. Sure, we all have style differences. However we don't have to let this lead to relationship problems.

Instead of feeling threatened by differences, why not create space to honor them? Why not make an effort to respect others even though they may think or act differently than you do?

Feeling accepted and respected by others is vital to productive work and personal relationships. But what if you don't feel this acceptance? Non-acceptance feels like disrespect. In other words we tend to translate feeling 'dissed' translates into feeling rejected.

It's especially painful to feel dismissed or discounted or dispensable. Rejection hurts. We tend to collect these kinds of hurts. We pile it into containers. We store it up in the form of resentments.

So how can you get your relationship back on the respect track?

Here's a tip that works for both personal and professional relationships: Rather than continuing to be put off by your partner's or co-worker's 'ways', try to find something you really respect about them. Granted this may be a whole lot harder with someone at work.

Do appreciate their smile, intelligence or sense of humor? What about their taste in clothes or colors? Once you can do that, try to focus in on this characteristic while you are talking with them.

When they see respect in your eyes they just might respond in kind. You'll be amazed at how quickly the situation can change for the better.

You may even notice some respect coming right back at you!
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