By Lynn Abrams
We’ve all been in a relationship that just wasn’t working. The relationship could be romantic, or it could be with a family member, friend, coworker, boss, landlord, etc. If I choose to remain in a relationship that’s not working, one choice I have is to continue doing the same things I’ve been doing, and hope for different results. I’ve often heard that jokingly referred to as the definition of insanity. In any case my chances of that being a successful strategy are limited at best.
If a relationship isn’t working, the result is that at least one of the people involved is unhappy. If I’m that person, I need a strategy, because I want to be happy. I must take control of my own happiness. Over the years I’ve realized that if I choose to be involved with people, I must understand that I can’t change them, but what I can change is my approach. It sounds simple, right? But until I thought of it that way – I can change my approach – I often felt powerless. Once I realized that I could change my approach, I felt liberated and in control of my own happiness.
I’ll give you a very simple example to illustrate my point. I had a boss who liked to nitpick. Our personalities clashed. I let her frustrate me and make my time at work miserable. I’m sure it showed on my face and in my attitude. Sometime later she ended up as my boss again. This time I decided to change my approach. This time I was really nice and friendly to her as often as possible. The “kill ’em with kindness” approach. It took awhile, but finally she couldn’t help but to be nice back. I don’t know how she felt about it, but I was much happier.
If I’m truly miserable, the people around me feel it. I want to be happy so I can share that happiness, especially with the people I care about. So if I’ve really reached deep down inside and can honestly say I’ve tried everything I possibly could and I’m still miserable; I might have to make the hard choice and break up or get a divorce, quit the job, to implement a graceful exit strategy to get myself out of what will ultimately become a toxic relationship.
The important thing to remember is that you can’t change people, what you can change is your approach. It’s up to you to control your happiness.