You may be one of the people who believes that no matter what, you have to hold on to all the relationships that you have in your life. You may feel this is true because the person is a relative of yours, a long time friend, a neighbor or perhaps a coworker. Maybe it is a person who relies on you for some sort of care or is financially dependent on you.
I know that during my work with my clients there are those relationships that have caused so much stress and hurt that in some cases physical ailments like headaches and stomach aches arise. In others, feelings of depression or anxiety may show up. I know for myself when I am in a toxic relationship, a terrible asthmatic response is my body’s way of telling me to release this person from my life.
As unwanted as these ailments may be, worse was a finding, of a 50% to 100% increase in death from all causes in the Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health from 2000 to the end of 2011, published on line in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The study found that frequent worries or demands generated by partners and children resulted in 196 women (4%) and 226 men (6%) to die. About half the deaths were from cancer. Heart disease, stroke, liver diseases, accidents and suicide made up the rest.
Those who had the worst outcome where men who were out of work.
Healthy relationships with a wide social network is important for our health and wellbeing. I suggest to my clients to do the following if they are experincing a difficult relationship:
- Let the person involved know that you value the relationship that you have with this person and that you have something that you need to share with them because of that fact.
- Tell the person involved that you are fairly certain that they have no idea that the behavior involved creates issues for you which is why you are bringing it up.
- Discuss with them a manner in which to communicate with you that would work better for the good of the relationship.
- Notice if they are able to listen to what you are saying and willing to work on it.
- If the person gets defensive, do your best to let them know that you are telling them this so that you can feel better about the relationship with them because it isn’t working so well for you the way it is going.
Note that some people are never going to be able to change for you because they have issues in their personalities that make it impossible for them. So, you may have to make a decision to either limit your time with that person or release yourself from the relationship. I personally like letting the person I am releasing from my life know why because it can be very hurtful to just disappear without that person ever having the opportunity to allow the relationship to become healthier.
With the knowledge that we now have from the almost 10,000 Danish people aged 36 to 52, who were studied, this can indeed become a life or death situation if left unchecked. So please do yourself the favor of having the difficult discussions. Your life may depend on it.
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