When It Comes to Relationships, Learn to Control Yourself

May 20, 2019|

We’re all in the people business, meaning much of our life is centered around relationships — either building them, repairing them, mending them, helping them and even exiting them.

As such, people can often be the source of many of our challenges. Perhaps it’s in the various areas of our disagreement, disregard and/or different perspectives.

Yet at the same time, the reactions, attitudes and opinions of others are largely out of our control. Therefore, the key to overcoming many of the challenges we face with others is in focusing on what we can control – i.e., ourselves.

Thankfully, we can learn to control our reactions, expectations, perspectives, attitudes, actions and even our emotions.

Far too often we allow our circumstances and relationships to control our behavior — and this an easy trap to fall into. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

For example, I love to watch skilled debaters and negotiators in action. They have learned the discipline and elite skill of self control. They do not allow their circumstances or the reaction of others to control them. Rather, they remain in control of their emotions, tone and projection, and thereby maintain a higher level of control over a desired outcome.

Again, this isn’t easy, but it can be learned, and even the Bible speaks of the value of self-control, calm temperament and discipline.

Personally, this skill is a work in progress, and I’m still a long way from where I desire to be. However, there are some tools we can all apply when dealing with others to help promote reconciliation, peace and progress:

Try to find common ground. Are there any similarities and threads of unity we share?

Strive for win-win outcomes. Be an advocate to help both sides achieve some victory.

Try to see the other person’s perspective and point of view. Why might that person feel and act the way he or she does?

Don’t take it personally. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do, but a counselor once admitted to carrying a Q-Tip in his pocket to help remember the acrostic — Quit Taking It Personally.

Breathe. Sometimes, when we’re in tense situations we can hold our breath and/or forget to breathe regularly. Simply being aware of our breathing patterns can help maintain stability.

In the end, we are emotional beings, but we don’t have to allow others to control our behaviors, actions and attitudes. These are things we can control. So, with relationships, whether professional or personal, there’s much wisdom in focusing on what we can control, and not on the others we can’t.

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