| Normal Relationships | Screwed-up Relationships | Forgiveness | Helping Others |
Life is good when your most important relationships are good, But when the people you care about, or who dominate key areas of your life, are not cooperating with you as you prefer, life can be turned into a living hell. Fortunately, most people get along with most people. So, you stand a good chance of building and maintaining good relationships with most people. But there are exceptions, especially if you are contributing to the problem.
It's a well know fact that 20% of the people cause 80% of the relationship problems. Based on simple statistics, that means that there is a 64% chance any relationship will be problem free, because both parties are sufficiently compatible to get along. There is a 32% chance that at least one of the parties in a relationship will be a source of problems while the other is compatible. The one party that is easy to get along with will have the burden of making the relationship work, and it can be done with some tools offered in this handbook. Unfortunately, there is 4% chance that both parties in a relationship are going to be the source of problems and completely incompatible. The best resolution to this situation is a break up or abandonment of the relationship. If escape is impossible, because of family bond or work-related situations, then one has to either endure while learning to endure a bad situation and making the most of the situation. There are ways to make a bad situation better, if one is willing to do so, but it means that you must be willing to cease being part of the problem and to change towards greater compatibility.
Define the Characteristics of a Good Relationship
According to Elizabeth Brown1, the characteristics of a healthy relationship are: 1) mutual respect, 2) accepting of one's responsibility for their own behavior, 3) allowing others to bear the responsibility for their actions, and 4) caring without enabling. Basically, you know you are in a good relationship. If you are enjoy the company of the other person and happier with them than without them, then you are in a good relationship. You don't have to read this handbook. Elizabeth Brown states that good "relationships are far more rewarding than dreams. A healthy relationship is a gift, not dependent on what you give or don't give. No one owes anyone anything; a relationship is a gift." A good relationship is a blessing and significantly contributes to one's personal enjoyment and happiness. Each good relationship is to be treasured and protected.
A bad relationship is just the opposite. The 4% of all relationships are like a living hell, especially if you can't escape from it. Escape is the best option when both you and the other party are contributing to your mutual grief. So, if you can't run away, then you have to stay and fight to make the relationship less unpleasant. For those relationships that are rocky, sometimes good and sometime bad, you will have to work a little harder and smarter to gain the rewards of a good relationship.
Screwed Up People2
Not everyone has it together like you do. Some 20% of the people are screwed up sufficient that they cannot get their relationships to work for them. If you are one of the other 80% who has it together, you can still live in a relationship with the other 20% who are screwed up. Your challenge is that you must do it all yourself to make the relationship work. Yes, it's not fair, but that's the way it is. If you can't voluntarily leave a relationship with a screwed up person, then you must learn to live with them in a way that does you or them any harm. As George P. Woods states, "Husbands and wives need to figure out how their relationship works for them through trial and error, rather than based on rules that are allegedly exported from the Bible" or other psychologically-driven, human behavior rules of relationships. You need to give yourself permission to experiment and to use what works, not everything will work, but enough by sifting through the options, you will eventually develop a repertory of methods that will keep disorder to a mimimum.
If you have your head screwed on right but the other person is screwed up, then you ill have to do all the changing to get the relationship on an even keel. You cannot count on the other person changing or even meeting you half way. You will have to rearrange how and what you do with their other person to make the relationship work.
Typically, the parties in a relationship can find common ground and compromise, but if you've tried this before but the other person refused to change, then you are stuck. For instance, if you focus on the other person's faults, you will never see any good to encourage. You can't deal with the other person's faults by bringing up values and defining what they 'should' be doing. Judgments and other 'should" demands is one of the most destructive phrases in relationships. By doing head-to-head with a screwed up person will only end up in verbal fights. There is always a danger of being sucked into dysfunctional behavior.
However, don't despair, the challenge of dealing with screwed up people is not impossible.. There are things you can do to make life and relationships with screwed up people work, and if you don't do them, then your relationship will work not work out at all. This handbook includes most of the best human relationships tricks of the trade.
The key to surviving a necessary co-existence with a screwed up person is what you do in response to what they do. Since screwed up people are impossible to change. They are likely to remain screwed up throughout your period of relationship with them. So, you must change the way you deal with them to survive. You should not allow the behaviors of screwed up people to control how you feel or destroy your peace of mind, joy, and happiness. You must cease living your life through them, dependent upon them to fulfill your needs, appreciate and build on what little you gain from your interactions with them, and stop wishing the screwed up person would be different. Instead, you are going to develop a life outside of your screwed up relationship so as to gain as much independence as possible. You must enforce a healthy separation, distance, and
distraction from the people in your life who cause you grief. Find healthy ways to satisfy your needs, rather than expecting someone else to do it.
Go back to the basics of what is considered the good life. Find sources of satisfaction if you can not get it from the screwed up person to which you are associated and cannot break free. You will get better results when you put your energies into work, relaxation, physical exercise to reduce stress, positive thoughts and attitudes, and firm decisions to do the right things. It is well known that despite your circumstances - and bad relationships - you can live happily in almost any situation if you can control your thoughts, attitudes, and actions. "Happiness is an inside job, regardless of the outside circumstances. Each person is about as happy as he or she decides to be. Always be asking, what can I do to make myself as happy as I can right where I am?"3
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