What joy it is to share a cup of warm tea with our childhood friends and laugh at memories of flying kites in the endless sky! Isn’t there grace in extending a welcoming hand to our new employee? These are the small joys, the genuine connections that make us smile, and they add a sparkle to everyone’s eyes. All the material stuff in the world pales away in comparison to tough the joy we feel when our baby smiles for the very first time, when our parents’ eyes fill with tears of happiness at our success, when someone asks us for advice. These connections, these memories, these moments are irreplaceable and ever so special, forever framed in our hearts and minds.
How spectacular life would be if all our interactions were this special, this exhilarating, this simple and nice? Sadly, this isn’t so. For all the wonderful memories and great relationships we have, we also have sour and bitter ones. The team-mate who always took credit for our ideas, the worker who exasperated us with his cheekiness, the domineering CEO, our very own rebellious teenager who has us at our wits end, with his retorts. Challenging relationships make life hard, robbing us of our peace, making us feel livid and enraged, victimised and helpless. Difficult relationships and tough people often come into our lives, and we can’t escape them. We have screaming matches, we have cold wars, and we have a feeling of emptiness, frustration within ourselves.
Is it really difficult?
As time goes by and tough interactions keep coming our way, we wonder, will life always be an ‘us versus them’ fight? Will emotions always be tossed back and forth, and leave us exasperated? Apart from giving in or fighting back, is there a way out of this? We want solutions, answers, and meaning, anything at all.
And slowly a message emerges. We read a book; we find an old wise friend, or a life-mentor, who guides us through. The truth is almost startling and unbelievable at first, yet a truth it is. The wise say gently, whispering into our saddened hearts and souls, ‘challenging relationships are a gift, they bear for you a message, and they have a meaning and purpose.’ In absolute surprise we wonder, ‘How can that resentful, complaining person we know, have any gift for us, how can there be any good in this hardship?
When talking about difficult relationships, mind-body wellness consultant, Haripriya Naresh, says ‘ I wouldn’t use the word ‘difficult’, as it is a word of judgement. Let’s call them ‘challenging’ relationships, something that doesn’t go our way. A challenging relationship is there for a reason and purpose with some learning in it. So when we look at it this way, the way we perceive it changes.’ We don’t go on playing jarring music with a bad key. Tough interactions are telling us the same thing. Don’t go on playing the harsh note, rather tune the chord. Piano’s are beautiful instruments, just as relationships can be wonderful and nice. If something is jarring, there is a message, tune it in.
Diamonds are made under pressure
Just like thorns have a purpose of protecting the beautiful rose, and bees create sweet honey, our tough relationships serve a purpose too. Maybe they are like the land that needs be toiled upon for lush green crops to appear. We often tell our teams, our children, our loved ones, not to bow down to difficulty, be it at the new project, merger, product launch or examination. Challenges we know give rise to great thinking, to strength within, to new innovations. So when we have the wisdom to know that there is some goodness in life’s challenges, why write off tough relationships and go on struggling in them?
Haripriya adds, “Challenging relationships are really there for our best. They help our true potential to emerge. It takes us out of our comfort zone in an unexpected challenging way. It brings out a potential or ability we have. It is an opportunity for creativity, and out of the box thinking.” So then, can we look at our challenging relationships, with creativity?
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