Every so often, it is helpful to take inventory of our relationships to see how they serve us. Are they healthy, loving and supportive mutual relationships? Or, do they tear us down? Are we dealing with bullies? Do the relationships make us feel better about ourselves, or worse?
We develop many relationships in our lifetimes with people in our communities, at our workplaces, churches, sports and hobby associations, with friends, within our families, and with romantic partners. Not all of these relationships are positive and supportive, but we can learn from them all to become stronger, healthier, and more whole.
I once heard a minister in the Unity Church talk about distracting relationships – relationships that distract us from our purposes or our goals. These could be needy, addicted, or dependent people who divert us from what we would rather be doing.
A colleague and friend of mine referred to “shadow people.” When I asked her what she meant, she said, “You know, those people who are in the background making negative or critical comments all the time.” Negative criticism and sarcasm don’t help or inspire us.
Do you have bullies in your life? According to Merriam-Webster, a bully is “one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threating to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way, vulnerable.” Often, literature focuses on child bullies at school, but adults get bullied too. It often takes place at work, but it can happen anywhere, even at your church or arts organization where you go for support. Learn how to recognize bullying behavior, which is often passive aggressive rather than overt. It may be as subtle as undermining your volunteer efforts, ignoring you at meetings, or not responding in a timely or positive manner to deadlines for work. Make yourself aware of how bullies operate and assess whether some of the people around you are bullies. The overt bullying is more obvious as they call you names or harass you.
Who are the people in your circle who support you and encourage you? Who is proud of you when you do well, and kind and supportive when you’re down? Who offers constructive and supportive guidance that is helpful? Who sets a good example or inspires you? When you come home after spending time with someone, how do you feel? Do you feel uplifted? Confident? Comfortable? Loved? Supported? Or, do you feel depressed, unsupported, uncomfortable, or angry?
It is good every so often to take inventory of our relationships. Consider who is in your inner circle who shares your joy and is there for you in times of despair. Express gratitude for these relationships and nurture them.
I am not suggesting that you immediately throw away other relationships, but it is important to be aware of who is in your corner, and to set boundaries to protect yourself from those who are not in your corner. Set boundaries to stop bullying because bullying can seriously affect your health and sense of well-being.
You may find the article, How to Handle Being Bullied as an Adult by Patrick Allan to be helpful and informative (https://lifehacker.com/how-to-handle-being-bullied-as-an-adult-1726099137).
Learn from all types of relationships. From the challenging relationships, learn strength, courage, and setting boundaries. From the positive relationships, learn love, nurturing, giving back, paying it forward, and gratitude. Let all relationships inspire you to express your best self. If you need help recovering from negative or abusive relationships, contact a psychotherapist, psychologist, coach, or support group.
“You can’t force anyone to value, respect, understand, or support you, but you can choose to spend your time around people who do.” Lori Deschene (tinybudha.com)
Allan, P., How to Handle Being Bullied as an Adult, retrieved on July 7, 2019 from https://lifehacker.com/how-to-handle-being-bullied-as-an-adult-1726099137
Deschene, quote, tinybudha.com