Relationships: No-drama zone

Black and white image of a girl with her hand extended signaling to stop useful to campaign against violence, gender or sexual discrimination (image focused on her hands)Family gatherings can be stressful. There can be bickering and disagreements. Emotions flare and someone ends up crying or just pissed off.

As I write this, it’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m preparing to catch a plane on Thursday evening from Houston to New York. This trip has been on my mind for a while; it’s the 85th birthday celebration for my mother – a momentous occasion and a chance to get our clan of 11 kids plus nieces, nephews, spouses, and friends back together.

The predominant feeling I have is one of anticipation and expectation. I expect to have a great time. I expect there to be a lot of conversation and a lot of laughter.

What I don’t have is fear. I’m not dreading this trip at all.

A long time ago, I decided to deal with childhood and adulthood hurts and slights. I sent an email to ten of my siblings saying that if I inadvertently hurt them I would be glad to discuss it. If I owed them an apology, I would be glad to give it.

I did this because there’s a handful of things I believed, including:

1) Everyone has some kind of pain.

2) People don’t always respond well when they’re in pain.

3) I can’t own anyone’s issues.

4) Holding a grudge is like drinking poison hoping the other person will die.

5) I was done holding on to the past and worrying what everyone thought of me.

I wanted to resolve the past, not just bury it. I needed a clean slate to move forward, building the life I wanted to have without unfinished business hanging over my head.

My relationships are in great shape. How can you do it?

Here are four suggestions that may start you on your way:

1) Decide how you want your life to be.

Many people never clearly decide who and what they want in their life and out of their life. Decide that your life is a no-drama zone. Create boundaries in your conversations and who you hang around. When someone tries to drag you into the trap of drama, recognize it and stand firm.

2) Be proactive.

Initiate a conversation about the situation with the people directly involved. You don’t have to be confrontational. Part of what you’re looking for is how the other person responds. If the response is open and positive, then there’s room for a conversation and perhaps understanding and reconciliation.

3) Give an apology if you owe one.

Sometimes we hang on to our anger for so long we forget we actually owe the other person an apology. When you invite the conversation, and commit to being open, you may find there’s an important role for you to play in resolving the dispute. Letting the situation fester will not help anyone.

4) Cut all ties if that’s what you truly need.

Cut off ties with people who need to be cut off. If they’re bringing you nothing but negativity, pessimism, and drama, you may need to reconsider their role in your life. You don’t owe anything to people who suck all of the energy out of you.

These steps may be difficult, but when you decide that you’re tired of being too accommodating, you’ll change your relationships for the better.

Get the Nerve!

About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

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