4 KINDS OF RELATIONSHIPS
Entire industries are built around making better relationships. Some are successful. Some are not. The thing is, we all want good relationships. We know we’re not islands and we need to interact with others, but we want to do so free from strife, drama, and abuse. Few people get only good relationships. There are always challenges. So what can reasonably do to make sure in our lives we have more good relationships than troubled or abusive ones?
I saw a Dr. M. Murdock quote recently that succinctly offers us great insight: There are 4 kinds of people in your life: those who add, those who subtract, those who divide and those who multiply.
The simplicity in his comment seems too easy, too general to be real keys or solutions, but is it? Or is it a simple truth? Those are truths that do break down simply at their core because they are core truths. Let’s explore a little and see where we end up.
Four Types of People in Your Life
1. Those who add. We have no doubt who in our lives fits into this column. These are those who are there for us. Who share our ups and downs and genuinely care about us, our goals and objectives, and they make an honest effort to help us achieve those goals and objectives. Bottom line, they might not always agree with our plans, and they’re honest about that, but they always respect us and our judgment and support us. They add constructive and beneficial things to our lives.
2. Those who subtract. We have few doubts about who in our lives fit into this column. These are those who seem to work at finding fault with us, pointing out and hammering on our errors with the benefit of their 20/20 hindsight. These people mock our efforts, often openly, and prey on our doubts. Bottom line, they interject uncertainty and fear, attempt to force us to question our own judgment, doing what they can (usually for reasons of their own) to hold us back. Some know why they do it, some don’t. Their reason might or might not be about us. It might be about their fears of being surpassed or left behind. But unless we’re aware of their reasons, their impact on us can be devastating. These people feed on making us less than we can be and their methods range from thoughtless to abusive.
3. Those who divide. These people have made their presence known in our lives and we flock to pop their names into this column. Whether they love trauma and drama for its own sake or they tear others down to build themselves up (in their own eyes and/or in the eyes of others), these people thrive on creating friction and divides between people—in families, in groups. They embrace divide and conquer, often seeking to control or manipulate. Life with them can be miserable because they blossom on upset, conflict, and if it is absent, they will manufacture it. It isn’t that they despise peace, they just want to define it—for themselves and for us. Many narcissists fit into the divide category. Ones who hold and project the attitude of It’s my way or the highway. The dividers cost you the most because conflict is their normal, so you’re constantly thrust into the peacemaker position or one of smoothing ruffled feathers and troubled waters. That means we have little to no time for anything else.
4. Those who multiply. These are the people who bond with you. The people who bring you into their inner circle and mentor and share and use their strengths to help you. They hear and listen. Crave your success and use their skills and insights to offer you assistance. These are the people who are honest with you about weaknesses for the purpose of offering strength and insights to elevate you. They approach your relationship seeking ways to highlight all the good in you and to convert your challenges to perks. Multipliers give you their best to aid you in becoming your best. They don’t dictate, insist, or push their ideas on you. They offer and respect your decisions regardless, aware that you best see the whole of you and your vision for your life.
View your relationships from these perspectives and make your call. For me in my life, this broke down to a simple truth brimming with wisdom.
It’s amazing how many challenges that create enormous upset in us are resolved simply by our understanding the motivation for the behavior. Sometimes the insight gained through understanding leads us to change the nature of a relationship. Sometimes we redefine it, and sometimes we sever it. When we determine someone in our inner circle is toxic, for example, we can then choose to modify our relationship with that person so its more constructive or, if we can’t modify it, to remove ourselves from it.
My point is, armed with insight and understanding, we choose our relationships and their nature. We decide what importance we place on them and how much weight we give to them. Obviously, we want constructive, positive relationships. Taking a hard look at them, we are better able to determine whether they’re positive or negative and what we want to do about that.
Positive relationships, we nurture and strengthen. Negative ones we modify and if we’re successful, great. They’ll become more positive. If they remain negative, then we must choose whether to continue to expend effort to make them constructive or to deem them abusive and sever—or find a point in between that works for us.
The important insight is that we are aware and we get to choose. Where we invest isn’t determined by anyone else. Even with family, we define the nature of our relationships. How much power and influence in our lives we give others.
Probably the most important insight gained in this—at least, for me—is an acute awareness that those who do not make you stronger, make you weaker. They steal your time, attention, your energy and even your joy. (If you’re cleaning up their messes all the time, that’s time stolen from you, and odds are high it’s not joyful.)
Relationships are always going to have highs and lows, and they’re never going to be totally smooth sailing. But understanding the dynamics in them gives us tools to work with to make them better, and these simple truths offer us the insights and understanding to recognize what’s going on beneath the surface so that even in difficulties, we can be more peaceful at coping.
My conclusion? Simple truths. Looking at your relationships, and who is in what columns, what do you think? Is there a shortage of people in any column? If so, seek. Is there an abundance of people in a negative column? What are you going to do about that?
Awareness is the first step. Action is the second—and the one that leads to more balance, peace, and contentment in your relationships and in your life.
© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Bride, Shadow Watchers, Book 1. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.www.vickihinze.com. Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.