Book Extract | Elaine Harrison
today is the day you change your life
Elaine Harrison
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Chapter 4

Today is the day all your relationships start to improve

 

Unless you choose to go and live as a hermit, you are going to have relationships – with a partner, family, friends, boss, colleagues, neighbours…..In fact even if you did choose a life of solitude, you would still have a relationship: with yourself. In this chapter we are going to look at what you can do to improve your relationships – including the one you have with yourself. The quality of your relationships often determines the quality of your life – at home, work, and alone with yourself.

Would you like to be able to feel self-confident and self-aware enough to be able to fully engage and connect with those around you; to get the best from your relationships – at home and work? This is one area of life where we can expend (and waste) enormous amounts of energy on worry, anxiety, confusion, fear, anger, bitterness, resentment, and frustration…need I go on? And often the source of the most pain is our own wild-imaginings. You can change that.

And when we are not imagining what we think others are thinking or feeling, we are busy taking personally whatever they may say. However, another’s point of view springs entirely from their own upbringing, conditioning and life experiences – it is not about YOU. Take note next time someone makes a comment about you. If the comment is negative, it is most likely they themselves are feeling unhappy, sad, mad or down on their luck. If it is a positive comment, they are probably feeling happy, confident, at-peace and up! People’s comments are truly only reflections of how they are feeling. You can choose how to react.

Changing how we relate to others can be one of the most potent life-changers of all – and it can start today!

In this chapter a lot is written about ‘love’ relationships – since these tend to be the focal point for so many people. However, if you are single, or perfectly happy with ‘the love of your life’ please read on as the principles are universal. Whether you are looking to improve your relationships at work or with your family, alter the exercises to suit your needs.

A friend of mine recently confided that she had married the wrong man. Not by accident of course! And not recently either, they have been together for 15 years. She told me how the day he proposed a small voice inside her said ‘no’ several seconds before she heard the word ‘yes’ come out of her mouth. Why the heck did she do it then? Because she ‘thought she loved him’ and didn’t want to be left on the shelf – they had been together for four years already and she couldn’t imagine life without him, even though life with him was mediocre, to say the least. And why is she still with him? Because they have been together so long and she can’t imagine life without him; even though life with him is now less than mediocre, to say the least.

Two other friends of mine have been married for sixty years and there is no mistaking the twinkle in their eyes when they relate the story of their first meeting all those years ago. “We’ve had our ups and downs” they’ll say “But we’ve always talked things through and we respect one-another”. “And I still fancy her, that helps” he’ll say with a cheeky grin “Oh give over you daft old fool” she’ll reply (grinning and blushing like the teenager he fell in love with!).

I asked the above couples to rate their relationship on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 equals ‘a disaster’ and 10 equals ‘a match made in heaven’. (I only asked my one friend in the first relationship…asking both could have stirred up a hornet’s nest that I hadn’t been invited to stir!). Half of couple number one rated her relationship a 2, and couple number two both proclaimed theirs to be a 10 out of 10 marriage. How would you rate yours? Go on be honest…there is no point in being otherwise with yourself if you truly want to start making the most out of life.

So, NO analyzing, judging, or questioning. Go with your first truthful response: On a scale of 1-10 where do you rate your relationship? (You can apply the same question to any other relationships – siblings, parents, your boss, your friends..Think about anybody you like – and rate your relationship with them on a scale of 1-10).

Do you want to spend the rest of your life in a relationship with that score? If not, read on….

 

If you scored low it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to jump ship right away. But life is too short to be in a low scoring relationship, so if change for the better is what you want; it does mean doing something about it. And you have three options for improvement:

Accept the relationship for what it is and get on with making the most of life (this means stopping wasting time and energy on resentment, bitterness, anger, self-pity…need I go on?)

Do something to improve the relationship

Leave the relationship*.

(* please ignore this option if you happen to be thinking about a relationship with a parent, child or sibling. But please do read on…)

Whatever you do, remember this is about YOU – not the other person. “What!?” I hear you exclaim, “Of course it’s about him/her…if he/she would only…it’s his/her fault we are in this mess…….if he/she would just change…”

I know it can be a hard truth to grasp, but there is only one person you can change and that is YOU; and what a relief – because trying to change someone else is a fruitless and exhaustive process. If the above statement of blame rang true with you, then you’ve probably already exhausted yourself trying to change your partner and become more and more exasperated in the process. However, there is a kind of magic that takes place when you start to change you – the people around you suddenly become different, too.

It’s not rocket science. How do you feel when you are with someone who is happy in themselves? And how do you feel when you are with someone who is always unhappy with their lot? Of course it affects you – and likewise how you are affects others, bringing out the best or worst in them. How you are affects you, too…you spend more time with yourself than with anyone else, so how would you like yourself to be? Freedom comes from knowing that we can only change our lives from the inside out and the same is true of our relationships.

Things to do today: What would it take to move your relationship score up 1 on the scale? How would you need to be different? What could you do TODAY to make a change? And then how could you move it up 1 more…? And 1 more…?