Notes from the online course – How to Be Your Own Life Coach – Lesson 11. – Love: Healthy Relationships

Recommended Reading:

As your own life coach, this last section is perhaps the hardest to take on; the complete honesty with yourself gets much tougher when you start to address the relationships in your life. This lesson includes all loving adult relationships, not just romantic love. Your relationship with your parents, your siblings, your spouse or lover, your friends, even your adult children will be tackled in this lesson. Every relationship you have has the power to change you; therefore ensuring that your relationships are healthy is vitally important to living the life you want.

A young adult book with a cult following is The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. In it, Chbosky provides the best summation of how we choose our relationships in the simple line:

We accept the love we think we deserve.

This seemingly simple concept is not only much more complex than it seems, but is also usable as a guide to determine whether or not your relationships are healthy. It indicates clearly that if you are in a relationship where you are treated poorly, then there are two options: end the relationship because you know you deserve better or remain in the relationship because you do not believe that you deserve better. Many people sabotage their own relationships with wonderful, giving partners because they live in fear. This fear stems from the belief that they do not deserve their wonderful partner. What you must, as a life coach, remind yourself of is that we all deserve to have healthy and happy relationships. We are all flawed, beautifully and deeply flawed. We nonetheless can be good people, worthy of love.

Most likely you have found yourself in a bad or unhealthy relationship before, perhaps many times. Some relationships start out unhealthy from the beginning, but we stay anyway (see above for reason!). Many relationships start out seemingly healthy but then take a turn for the worse. Sometimes it is a gradual slide; other times it is a sudden change usually preceded by a dramatic event.

What makes a relationship unhealthy? Any time the love is detrimental to your well-being.

Perhaps there are elements of emotional or mental abuse. Passive-aggressive behaviors, cruel remarks, thoughtlessness, lack of boundaries, unrealistic expectations, severe inconsistencies in behavior and more tend to be the most common aspects of unhealthy relationships. These may be present in your relationship with your partner or spouse, but they are all too often present in our other loving relationships as well. Maybe your sister is callous in her remarks to you. Perhaps your mother expects you to live your life to please her. It may even be that you have been the perpetrator in these situations, such as expecting your children to always have straight As when they are not truly capable of it. These relationships may be reparable or may not, but there is a possibility for change.

Physical and sexual abuse and assault is a more obvious aspect of an unhealthy relationships; it often tends to occur between parents and children or between your spouse and yourself. If you are in a relationships with someone you believe is having a negative impact on your child(ren), you cannot ignore it. Maybe your spouse hits you or throws things at you. Perhaps your husband has even raped you. These are very real, very common, and very disturbing relationships to be in. These are situations in which you have no choice but to remove yourself from the relationship.

If you or your children are not safe and secure, especially in your own home, can you imagine a life coach that would allow you to stay in that situation? Of course not. You must then understand why you cannot allow yourself to stay either. There are resources available; please see the Resources and References section.

If you are not in physical danger but there is emotional abuse occurring in your relationship(s), this must be addressed, but may be able to be reconciled. We are all guilty of selfishness and unreasonable expectations sometimes; the real challenge is to not only help our loved ones be better about these issues, but to be better ourselves as well.

There are three simple (but difficult) ways to begin to repair our relationships:

  1. Construct boundaries
  2. Communicating boundaries, expectations, and consequences
  3. Following through with consequences

These may seem simple enough but are much more complex than they seem. How many times you must go through the process may vary widely based on the other people involved as well as the relationship you have with them. For example, you may be willing to go through this process over and over and over for someone you love deeply such as a spouse, parent, or child, whereas a friend may not receive numerous chances.

The emotional toll that it takes on you to go through this process can also have a tremendous impact; if every time you tell your father that you are not going into the family business results in a huge fight, it may be destructive as well. When the relationship begins to turn negative and the person you are dealing with cannot or will not change, you may have to significantly alter or end the relationship you have with them. If you choose to make it clear that certain behaviors must stop, you must also communicate what the consequences will be if they do not stop and then you must be willing to follow through with said consequences.

For example, if you feel that your brother is judgmental to the point that it is a very negative experience to be around him and you need it to change, the following may be a statement you would make:

“Clint, when you say that I’m an idiot and a moron for my political views, it is frustrating and hurtful to me. I also do not find it appropriate for you to say things like that about me in front of my children. We can stop talking about politics, we can talk about politics but you not use demeaning terms like that, or I will have to seriously restrict the amount of time I/we/the kids spend with you.” In this example, you’ve expressed the problem, said what you would like to happen, and expressed a consequence. The only remaining part of it is that you must be willing to then restrict your time with Clint.

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