When asked, most people can readily name a person, friend, colleague, or family member who when interacting with one another, conjures a strong personal emotional reaction. This reaction can be highly positive, like feelings of synergy and affection. Yet, it can also be challenging, eliciting feelings of uneasiness, distraction, and maybe even anxiety. What’s interesting is that it’s a common reaction that occurs during each interaction with that individual— but not with others.
You feel a very specific way around this person— and it sticks with you…
It’s these people and these situations that we can actually learn a lot from.
If willing, participate in this short thought exercise: Think back to the last time you were with this person. Where were you? What happened? What did you say and do? What did they say and do? How did you feel? At what point did you feel your emotions/feelings escalate?
Don’t worry if you couldn’t answer all those questions. The point is, we need to spend more time thoughtfully reflecting on the people and situations that throw us off our A game. Truth is— these situations and encounters will never truly leave us. And sometimes, we really love the people that are the most challenging to be around.
So, let’s frame it as an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to reflect on the role you play in each interaction with this person.
Instead of focusing solely on how the interaction with this person affects you, consider what you may bring with you to each interaction (i.e. feelings, emotions, routine ways of acting, etc.)…
For instance, I have a family member who I love more than anything. Yet, being with this person is hard at times because I instantly feel tense and anxious. The same could be said about a good friend of mine. While I think highly of her as a person, I feel very self-conscious and timid when I am around her.
It’s easy to blame the other person, right? To think that it’s something outside of ourselves— they must be doing something wrong to make us feel this way…
Well, not quite. A relationship takes two; it’s a two-way street. Each person brings a personal dynamic to each and every relationship.
It’s true… you may feel a very certain way when you are with a person, but consider: how much of that is them— and how much of that is you? If it’s a long-term relationship, consider how long these dynamics have been feeding each other. Every time you meet…?
When you frame it like this, and consider your relationships from this new angle, it may bring clarity and hope for resolve and betterment. Maybe just being more aware of how you feel going in, and actively monitoring what thoughts/emotions/behaviors you are contributing to a relationship can help you move forward with a greater ability to intervene towards happiness and wellness.