Have you ever ended a friendship because you felt that they just weren’t a good friend? Or ended a romantic relationship because they didn’t treat you like they loved you?
I think it’s fair to say that most of us have done this, or been on the flip side of this coin. We say things like, “they just didn’t support me” or “they didn’t show me love and respect.” Worse yet, “they betrayed me.”
Any of this sounding familiar?
Over the years, I think that it is fair to say I have heard, or said things like this hundreds of times. I used to think that this was a natural progression in my own evolution. I justified the termination of relationships on the account of my personal growth. I cut people out and we parted ways. The trickiest part was when it came to family – but I will get to that later.
It wasn’t until I met Rob and we wrote The Letters of Gratitude that we had this huge epiphany and it changed our entire lives…
Think about the last friendship that you ended. Do you have one in your mind? Now ask yourself this, when was the last time you told them in detail what a good friend was? When did you tell them how you defined friendship? Did you ask them what a friend meant to them?
Chances are you never had this conversation.
Now, think about the last time you were in love and the relationship ended. Do you have someone in your mind? Did you explicitly describe to them how you defined love? Did you ask them how they defined love? Did you explain to them how you defined respect? What that looked like for you? What trust means to you? Described to them what trustworthy and untrustworthy actions meant to you?
Chances are that conversation never happened either.
Here is What we Learned:
Everyday, we assign roles to the people in our lives. They are our friends, lovers, husbands, wives, children, parents, neighbors and so on. We give them labels like good, bad, inspirational, trustworthy, respectful, disrespectful etc. Surely, all these people mentally compartmentalize our role in their lives in a similar way. The problem with all of this is they likely define the word totally different than we do. And we rarely take the time to clarify with that person how they define these roles.
Two people can be madly in love with each other and not know how the other person even defines love. They break up because to her love is emotional support, but to him it’s about physical presence and allowing space during times of emotional challenge.
After 20 years of friendship, two people part ways because one wasn’t being a good friend. One defines friendship as consistent hangouts. The other thinks friends shouldn’t have to see each other all the time.
An adult child decides to sever their relationship with their parents because they don’t support them emotionally. To the child emotional support means positive feedback. To the parents emotional support means listening during times of challenge. The child constantly had asked for more support and the parents did in the way the defined it. To the child, they never listened…
The possible scenarios could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
We have countless relationships in our lives. People have come and gone in our lives, but chances are these relationships would have been totally different if we actually took the time to communicate effectively.
Here is My Challenge to You:
Start asking questions to the people in your lives. Ask your lover what love means to them. Tell them what it means to you. Likely, your answers will be different and that’s okay. Go even further with it. If love means “respect” to them, ask them how they define respect. The point is when you use these words in your relationship you will know what this means to them. And…remember our language is always evolving as we grow and experience the world around us. So check in with them anytime there seems to be miscommunication. Trust me this act changes everything. Do the same with friends, with family members, or anyone that is important to you.
Planning on getting married? Ask your future husband or wife what marriage means to them.
Rob and I were fortunate. When we wrote The Letters of Gratitude we did it for us. It wasn’t until it changed our lives that we made it into a book. After 3 months of dating we wrote 30 letters to ourselves on the topic of 30 words. How we defined them. What experiences we had with them and how we could be grateful for them. 5 years later, we are still asking each other questions to create more clarity in our relationship. The powerful lesson that we took away and we hope you can too is that we assume so much. We forget that all people see the world in a totally different way. Sure we share a common language, but we all define the words differently.
If we take the time to really talk to people, it brings us closer and we can truly begin to appreciate the people in our lives. When we ask questions, we gain clarity and are acting in a way that will create more positivity around us. Working towards assuming less, asking and listening more transforms your life in such a positive way. So much conflict can be avoided when we truly communicate.
Get out there and start talking. Have fun and enjoy the enlightening conversation!
P.S. Keep in touch and let me know when you have tried this. Email anytime <3
P.S.S Drop me a line and let me know what types of posts you would be interested in hearing about. I LOVE Suggestions!