Relationships are hard—very hard in fact. For many of us, the most important ones become strained, unhealthy, even toxic and we stay in them because we are connected through family bonds.
Many others die over a period of time. Sometimes slowly, sometimes stunningly fast.
What’s amazing to me, is that even when there’s distinct and even palpable love between two people, relationships can still suffer and die. Communication becomes strained, then difficult and then impossible.
Taking corrective action is necessary, but knowing what action to take and taking it at the right time is vital.
Here’s a very useful tip to remember when you sense a relationship you care about is in trouble. Ask yourself …
What can I give up?
Getting something of value always requires giving something up in exchange; something we also value.
What you give up is your cost. Sometimes it’s cash, sometimes it’s an object (like when you barter), sometimes it’s your time and effort, and sometimes it’s something very intangible, something you don’t often think about.
You could …
Give up ‘being right’
The biggest cost for most people though is ‘being right’. Most of us associate being right with being good, being smart, being valued or being dominant in a relationship, and we’ll damage or even end relationships for the sake of being right.
Sometimes people even kill for it.
Giving up being right is the same as giving up a position, belief or role.
- You could give up your position on an issue like abortion, or the rights of dogs and cats to live together and consider the valid points for the other side.
- You could give up a belief like ‘this situation will never change/can’t be fixed,” and consider the examples where change has occurred.
- You could give up your role of being a parent and be a friend instead.
Giving something up opens communication
Giving something up is often accompanied by the physical sensation of exhaling, of relaxing.
It literally opens you up to communication and to love.
Always looking to see what you could give up is a great practice as it always shifts the responsibility of making a relationship work to you.
Why is that a good thing?
Because if you wait on the other person to give something up or take the first step, you’ll wait forever.
Giving up being right doesn’t mean you’re wrong
… or that you’re weak, stupid, submissive etc. In fact it takes a very strong person to give up being right, especially to be the first person to do so.
- Giving up being right can simply mean setting your position aside for the moment and listening for the validity in another position.
- It can mean having compassion for another human being who can’t give up being right.
- It can mean your acknowledgment that your position only comes from incomplete information and that you could learn more that could change your mind.
- It can be an expression of the love for someone you value more than a position; a position that—in the grand scheme of things— doesn’t really matter and could even be wrong.
Magic can happen when you’re the first to give up being right, at least if you do it authentically and not to manipulate. You’ll often find the other person give something up too.
You will resist
Giving something up goes against every fibre of your body, because being right is associated with your identity.
Your ego will fight you.
But you can predict with certainty what will happen if you don’t. And it’s better to be conscious of the price you pay now rather than when one of you is on your deathbed.
Developing a habit of asking yourself a question like, “Am I fighting to be right about this?” will open your eyes to the triviality of many of the things you will unconsciously destroy a relationship over.
Continually asking that question will develop some super relationship building muscles that you’ll be grateful for when you reach for love and support and find that it’s there.