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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships (Part 4 of a 4 Part Series)

So after reading this last post in this series, you will have your own private checklist to lead you towards a healthier relationship. You will know what you need to do to be healthy in your relationships.

It would be great if it was simple. Today's blog post is the most important skill to master and that makes it the most important one for you to read in this whole series.

I so very much believe that.

That is why I saved it for last.

Today, I am going to hand you steps to tolerate the discomfort for growth.

First, you need to know why it is important.

We are all invested emotionally in our relationships so we can easily shut down when our emotions flare. Many people don't tolerate the discomfort. When we shut down, we become disengaged. Relationships become unhealthy when we are disengaged. We become unhealthy in relationships when we become disengaged. Okay, you can easily see how that all works.

When you build up the tolerance for the emotions that flare up, you stay engaged in your relationships.

So how do you build up your tolerance for discomfort?

I'm so glad you asked. You will want to do the following:

1. Focus on the present, not the past. You do not want to continue to rehash a fight or tell the back story over and over and over and over.

2. Focus on what is best for your relationship, but is not at your expense. Many times you can do what is best for the relationship without it being at your expense. For example, if your wife wants you to go with her while she shops for clothes, while you may not want to, your relationship will benefit. If your husband wants to see a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, consider going with him. It wouldn't kill you (unless you know you will have nightmares of course - that would be bad). When your son wants you to watch his magic trick for the tenth time, tolerate it.

3. Make emotional deposits more often than you make emotional withdrawals. Think of it like a bank account. You have to have a lot of deposits to be able to afford the withdrawals without going bankrupt.

4. Shake it up when you can - rather than just waiting for the shake up that is out of your control. If you always go to the same movie theater, go to a different one. If you order the same thing at a restaurant every time, try something else next time. If you drive the same way to work all the time, look for a different route and take it. This isn't me asking you to make a change just for the sake of change. I'm asking you to purposefully do some things differently, to step out of your routine, to get comfortable with difference . . . well, shake things up. Life is what happens when you plan for something else. You are guaranteed some shake ups in life and in your relationships. Train yourself to tolerate the discomfort of change when you can do it in a controlled way.

5. Be open . . . Period. Allow the people you trust to influence you. Patty in my office recently suggested a change in how we do business. At first I was hesitant. I was resistant. I had my reasons but I sat on it and then decided to try it. I was open to it and now I'm all over it. She was right to make the suggestion and I'm proud of myself for being open to it. At first it was distressing and then it got easier. It is my best example of how in this past week, I tolerated the discomfort and I'm glad I did (thanks to Patty).

If this series has been beneficial to you, let me know in the comments below.

If you missed the other parts, here they are for you to swing back around and get caught up.

For Part One click here.

For Part Two click here. For Part Three click here.

Thanks for being a part of this.

Until next time,

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