I spend a good bit of time with people that are in the midst of personal catastrophes. Most are relational struggles, whether in a marriage, a family or at work. The health of our relationships are an indicator of the health of ourselves.
Whenever I am meeting with someone that is going through a relational struggle, I always try to bring it back to the person I am talking with. There is not much in life that we can control, but when it comes to ourselves, we do have a choice in what we do, think, say and believe.
For someone that has a broken relationship, it always starts with yourself. It is easy to look at those around you and blame their behavior, attitude or hurtful actions for why things are so bad. Yet that will never resolve the issue or change the circumstances. It always starts in your own heart. It starts with your own character. Your character is who you really are. It will reflect how much you accomplish in life and how well you love yourself and others.
Your character is the internal script that you follow in response to conflict, mistreatment, pain and even success. When that script is focused on yourself and preserving or getting what you want, the actions that follow will usually dig the hole even deeper or add fuel to the fire. Part of our character is the defense mechanism’s we have developed over the years in dealing with conflict and pain. It might be sarcasm, humor, withdrawing/silent treatment, yelling/escalating or even going into fix it mode.
Changing that internal script is hard work, yet it is the only way to work through a relational crisis. It starts by taking personal responsibility for what you contributed and how you have reacted. Then it involves the hard work of self-actualization, seeing yourself, your reactions, your character and your beliefs and where you are off course. This is hard work and will take the help of God and other people. It means being humble enough to ask for help and to admit your mistakes. When you get on your knees and ask God to change your heart and character, that is when the rough edges start to get smoothed out. It will take time, perseverance, patience and practice, but you can change.
Working on yourself is one of the most productive things you can do in order to be successful in life. Take the time and energy to get healthy emotionally, to work through the hurts and hang-ups from your past. Take time to grow in your faith and connect more with God and involve him in every area of your life. Take time to build trust with yourself and others and work on relational skills like listening, asking questions, asking for and extending forgiveness.
The best thing you can do for any relationship in your life is to be healthy emotionally, spiritually, relationally and physically. In a relational crisis the way in which you respond will either add fuel to the fire or add water to the fire. How you respond is a reflection of your character. The choice is always yours.