The 4 relationship stances and how to change a negative view towards life and other people
You have a natural stance that you take towards your relationships and towards yourself. When you are in recovery, relationships are more important than ever. It doesn’t matter whether you are recovering from addiction or from mental illness. Relationships are your recovery.
If you are reading this post, you likely want to work on your relationships or at least consider your perspective.
How you view your relationships and your life will determine what you get out of recovery and out of life. It turns out, there are just four stances that you can take in your relationships and in how you approach your life:
1.I’m okay, but you need to work on yourself.
I am doing well, but I have to say it: You and most of the people you know need to work on themselves. Most times I am right and you are wrong. Just accept it and you might feel a little happier, because you agree with me. I am the Lord Business of my relationships and of life itself.
If you take this approach, you may have a few challenges in your relationships. People might think of you as arrogant, pompous or a complete jackass.
2.I suck, but you are okay.
I suck. I just do. Most things I do are inferior to what other people do. In fact, I am inferior. No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to make things click like other people seem to do. I don’t know why I am this way, I just am. Your success is threatening to me and it is a sign that I probably won’t amount to anything.
Psychologists call this a tendency to Internalize. You may be more prone to depression and anxiety because you have a habit of ruminating. Going inward instead of communicating can be detrimental to your confidence, your relationships and your outlook.
3.We both suck. In fact, everyone sucks.
Life sucks. People suck. No one is moving forward and life is just frustrating. We blame the government, blame our parents, or blame God. Whatever the reason, we suck.
Research shows that if you have a negative outlook towards life, it can be harmful to your health. If that is not enough, having a cynical view of life will make you less assertive because, who cares? You may feel chronic, ongoing frustration because you can’t get any traction on your goals.
4.I’m okay and you are okay.
I blow it sometimes and so do you. But other times, I get things right and things flow. I am a pretty good person and most days, life will work well. Even when life sucks, I will find a way to make the most of it or learn from it. You can do the same thing. Your success does not mean that I can’t succeed. We can both win.
No one is perfect, we all struggle with our mindset. When you view life more openly and with a positive mindset it will help you feel more engaged. You may not always be a success, but you will learn more from your mistakes. You may not always be happy, but you will feel grateful. And science says that you might just live longer too.
Like your stance? Great! If you want to make a change, read on.
a.Take some time to reflect.
Just reading about each of the mindsets made me stop and reflect. Reflection can sometimes be all that you need to shift your mindset. I sometimes fall into stance #2 and on my bad days #3. This reminded me to be more open and optimistic in how I view myself and other people. It’s not about perfection, but progress.
b.Nurture a growth mindset.
Naturally, you tend to fall into either a fixed, or a growth mindset. The fixed mindset concludes that you are who you are and you can’t really change, so you don’t try to improve. The growth mindset is one where we acknowledge our weaknesses and our strengths. We believe that we can change, so we work to change ourselves a little at a time. For more on the Growth Mindset, read this article.
In my professional work, I am a Clinical Addiction Counsellor and Family Therapist. I encounter struggling families and youth in the midst of an experience with addiction. I don’t need to describe all of the gory details, but I can safely say that sometimes things get messy.
From time to time, I see a case that feels hopeless. One of the things that I have learned is to go past my own bias and invest time in relationships with people. When I learn more about a person’s story, it changes ME. My mindset shifts when I learn about the person as a human. Knowing what they have faced and seeing their resiliency despite their trauma, abuse or other circumstances reminds me that people can change.
Everyone has overcome something. This is the one thing that makes everyone an equal. We all have to face down setbacks, trauma or circumstances that can kick us in the teeth. Get personal by asking someone that you may not know too well about their story.
d.Don’t take life so seriously.
Reflect, work on your mindset and learn from other people. But have fun while doing it. Your mindset changes when you relax and make small, positive changes. If you try to get serious and change yourself, your mind will dig in and resist. Instead, relax and don’t take yourself too seriously. Growth does not happen on schedule. Take the time that you need because life will be waiting for you.
You may have heard the saying, “Life is suffering but misery is optional.” In recovery, being grumpy is optional. If you want to change your mindset and how you view your relationships, you will want to read some of my other work:
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Keep it Real
Adapted from I’m Okay – You’re Okay by Thomas A. Harris