Friday, November 23, 2012

and much easier to be around.

Are You High Maintenance? by Ruth Bridgewood
To me, a high maintenance relationship is one where you feel like you're treading on eggshells and perhaps you feel reluctant to say what you think or feel for fear that the other person might over-react, yell at you, tell you you're wrong or otherwise create a drama out of something that is not really important. Eventually the relationship, whether spouse/partner, friend, colleague or boss, becomes too difficult to maintain and you either leave the relationship (or job), or stay and endure strained or non-existent communication.
If you feel that it is possible that you are high maintenance, the following ideas may help you to see how it is important to relax a bit more so you can promote honest and open communication with loved ones, colleagues or friends. Then, I will give you some tips on how improve your relationship with someone who is "high maintenance".
Overreacting or over-interpreting - Unhappiness or conflict is often a result of how we react to an event or person - it does not reside in the event or person themselves. Over-reacting or overanalyzing with fixed ideas of how things should be or how people should behave, and then becoming aggressive or defensive when they don't meet your expectations, is a sure way to unhappiness. We can only be only hurt if we have preconceived ideas on how people should behave (and who made you the expert on how someone else should behave?). You are likely to be disappointed and frustrated if you expect people to act in accordance with your values or expectations. Accept the fact that everybody is different and there will be many times when you disagree with someone, or they disagree with you.
Often we overreact when plans get changed or things don't go the way we hoped or expected. Generally, we need to allow for the fact that things are not always going to go to plan. When I was young and backpacking around the world, I was accompanied by my (now ex) husband who used to virtually throw a tantrum every time there was a minor hiccup, for example, a bus was not on time or the museum or whatever we were hoping to visit was closed on that day. It came a point where I threatened to travel on without him, and he started to settle down. The Buddhist philosophy of letting go of attachment to outcomes, that is, being more flexible and less rigid about how things should be, will help you to become a much more relaxed and peaceful person, and much easier to be around.
There will still be times when you need to confront someone or fight for something you believe in. Make the decision to argue only over things that are truly important.
Be kind instead of being right - It's almost always more important to be kind than to be right. So often we get so caught up in defending our position or correcting people on some small issue which doesn't really matter, that we end up alienating ourselves from people,Now my description of this process is somewhat linear because as you are no doubt aware. The other person certainly won't appreciate you pointing out that they are wrong or realising that you have no respect for their opinion. Then, how often do you actually feel better for correcting someone or making them feel small? Personally, I usually feel worse and wish I hadn't succumbed to the temptation to point out that they are wrong.
In some cases it may be important to speak your mind or to tell someone they are wrong if the situation is life-threatening,1873 Ugg Bailey Button Triplet Chestnut Boots, but this is rarely the case. If you let the matter go (genuinely and sincerely!), you will find your interactions with people will be far more peaceful and happy.
It's just an opinion! - If it's an opinion on something, then try to understand their opinion or see if there may be a grain of truth in it. After all, if it's just an opinion, and who's to say that you are right and they are wrong? We all come from different perspectives and in fact, there are probably as many different opinions as there are people on any given subject. By being open to other people's ideas, you might even learn something!
"Seek first to Understand" - Try to interact with the person from a perspective of curiosity and interest. Being interested, without judgement, will develop your compassion and patience. You might ask yourself what has happened in that person's life to cause them to behave the way they have, for example, they may have suffered abuse in their childhood that has caused them to become very defensive, or even aggressive. Stephen Covey ("Seven Habits of Highly Effective People") suggests that we "seek first to understand". If you seek to understand where people are coming from and what's important to them, communication will flow more easily and you're less likely to react or judge them based purely on your own perspective of the situation.
Keep things in perspective - We have a neighbour who lost all perspective when we trimmed a tree on our boundary line a little more than she thought we should have. Since then, she spends her life watching what we are doing and reporting us to authorities for any slight perceived misdemeanor,it will enliven all of your relationships.. Until then, we had a reasonably good relationship with her.
Make the effort to know when something is relatively unimportant. After all, is it worth jeopardizing your relationships over something minor and trivial? This doesn't mean that you are approving of negative behaviours or opinions that are not based on fact or sound judgement, it simply having some perspective about what is important and what is not.
By following these ideas, you may well notice that the more you let go of minor issues, stop trying to fix the other person or have them agree with your opinion, the less defensive and more loving and accepting they will become. They may stop trying to prove their own standpoint and your whole relationship will be more harmonious.
If it's the other way around and you're sharing your life with someone you feel is high maintenance, similar principles apply i.e.
- Accept the fact that this person has a tendency to over-react or to be a bit of a drama queen at times. Realise that you can't change another person - the only thing you can change is your attitude towards them. So if the person is important to you, accept that that's the way they are and genuinely let go of the issue at hand .
- If they really, really need to be right all the time, just let them! (provided it's not a situation that is life-threatening),Originally. Rise above it and you're allowed to feel (a little bit) virtuous about it! If you resist the desire to react, you may find it confuses them and perhaps they'll think twice about it next time.
- Often if someone is highly opinionated, they are coming from a place of low self-esteem and feel a need for validation. Even if you don't agree with their opinion, try to understand where they are coming from and listen from a perspective of curiosity, perhaps "Well, that's an interesting point of view", rather than immediately thinking (or even saying) "That's a load of rubbish!"
- Again, keep things in perspective. If the relationship is important to you, accept the person as they are. You always have the choice to leave the relationship or the job, but with a little patience and understanding you shouldn't need to.

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