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Are our relationships helping us or hurting us?

“Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes are uncertain. People are irrational.” — Hugh Mackay.

How often do we think about our relationships with other people? Do we even think about them at all, or are we so involved with them we go with the flow and whatever happens, happens?

Better yet are we so dependent on relationships with other people that we are willing to do whatever it takes just to keep them happy? Do we often forget about our happiness, safety or well-being just to fit in with the crowd? If so then why do we do this to ourselves? Why must we feel like we need to be a part of the in-crowd? Let’s look at some of these questions as we think about our relationships.

First of all, despite whatever anybody says, we all need people. Relationships are so important to our development as a person. Even though people mistakenly believe that we can do everything ourselves, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Some people think it shows weakness on their part to have other people help them. We feel like we should do everything on our own and needing relationships with others somehow makes us weak. Also relationships can be extremely messy from time to time, so we can stay away from them for these very reasons.

However, we interact with others because we are made to have relationships. No person is meant to go through life alone. Even if we feel like we don’t need anyone else, we are only lying to ourselves. Relationships help us to enjoy life more, to be challenged to become the kind of people who we want to be. They increase our quality of life, get us out of our comfort zone and much more.

People who say “I don’t need anybody” are only fooling themselves. They have a very narrow outlook on life. Instead of seeing the benefits that come from having other people in their lives, they can only see the negative and the hurt that can come from having the wrong relationships.

I understand that we might have been hurt in the past by people who we were involved with. We’ve all been there, but to allow that to hold us back is living in the past, not the present. In fact by making new friendships, it can help us overcome all the pain and hurt from our past by seeing not everybody is going to treat us like we got treated before.

While there are all kinds of relationships one could have, for this column we are only going to consider the two main ones: the helpful and hurtful relationships. Really if we look at all the different kinds, we can break 90 percent of them into two categories: helpful or hurtful.

The two can never coexist together. They are like two male bucks locking horns during mating season, battling for domain in our lives. Unfortunately there is no middle ground. We are either going to have relationships that help us or hurt us. Yes, we might have both at times, but eventually one of the two will win out.

A lot of us have both kinds of relationships in our lives at the same time. Sometimes in a hurtful relationship we are not aware that we are being hurt until something damaging comes out in our behavior.

While I was in high school, I worked at a thrift shop. I normally took the trash out to the dumpster, emptied out the drop-off box and ran the lift gate on the truck.

I began to talk with this one women who worked with me. She was really a nice lady who loved the Lord; however, when she got to talking about the government, oh boy. It wasn’t the normal complaints about the government. It was how they’re trying to take over our lives and spy on us.

At first I just listened and smiled, but soon I found myself being angry over something that was out of my control. I knew I needed to quit being around her while she was talking about the government. Lucky for me I could talk about Christ with her, and we changed the subject matter.

On the flip side of the coin I had and still have some great relationships in my life. I was talking to a friend over a cup of coffee about everything I would like to do with my life, and I confided that I couldn’t keep from doubting. He told me everyone has their doubts, but I must plow through all my doubts to get where God wants me to be. Then he shared some personal stories with me about times he doubted and had to overcome them in order to get where God wanted him to be.

As he was talking to me, I felt I could do anything with God’s help. Nothing could stand in my way. I walked out of that meeting on cloud nine. I knew with help from God I could do anything.

See the difference between the two kinds of relationships? One hurt me, and the other one lifted me up. The woman that I worked with did damage unknowingly. She didn’t mean me any harm. You could tell the “information” she had was bugging her, and she needed to get it out. The problem was I didn’t have anyway to combat all the negative information going into my mind, and it built up and boiled over.

We all must have relationships that allow us to be at our best, some positive re-enforcement to push us to do the right thing and achieve our dreams. Just as I talked to my friend over coffee and left very encouraged, everyone needs people who can speak life back into their bones.

I always believe if we are not growing, we are dying. We must have people who can push us up. Life pushes us down far too much. By having people come around us, we will be able to counteract when life tries its best to stuff us into a box. Think about who in your life can encourage you. Who can be there when everyone else fails you, and who can push you up when life gets you down?

On the other hand, do we even know which relationships are doing us harm? Are we in a relationship that is compromising our growth? Are we the only person who realizes how hurtful the relationship is?

It can be hard if someone unintentionally and unknowingly is harmful to be around. Unfortunately there is no cut and dried way to handle it.

Know your limits. You don’t have to cut ties right away, but you must know how much you can take. You may be around someone for a short period of time and not be negatively effected by them, but there has to be a time limit placed on it. If the person continues to be harmful, just walk away. There will be more relationships that you can invest in and more people who can invest in you.

We all should pay more attention to who we are in relationships with. We need to decide whether or not they are helping us or hurting us. We should spend more time on those relationships that are helping us and less time on the hurtful ones.

Published: October 10, 2016
New Article ID: 2016710109978