It can be hard to remain centered while listening to someone complain about someone else. When alone, you can easily center as you take a deep breath and remember that you are a child of God. In this state while looking into the eyes of your friend you can easily to see the love and care you share. However, mental distortions are created when talking negatively about someone who isn’t there. In your desire to maintain the friendship, you may ignore and affirm distortions that may permanently affect the relationship.
Ignoring the “loving others” aspect of how we are wired has multiple consequences. It becomes very easy to get angry and judge someone who isn’t there. It’s becomes easy to label and marginalize another as a “bad person”. These tendencies alter your friendship, destroying the healthy communication between you and your friend. The conversation alters the emotional center of the friendship. You may feel like more than a friend, even more than some family members to them, but it is without “sense of self” or spiritual grounding. Often, as the dust settles, you have lost a friend.
There is a circuit of the brain that connects us to those not in our presence. When talking to your friend, you can center your conversation in all three of these spirit-guided, sense of self systems. Take a deep breath and feel God’s love for you, for the person you are with and for everyone either of you knows. Allowing yourself full access to all of your connections avoids such distortions building trust and depth to everyone you touch.
How to Handle Negative Remarks About Family Members
Here are a few suggestions when a friend is tempted to talk negatively about another:
Strategic Emphasis: Emphasize ways to improve communication with the other person.
When talking about someone in their life, they are attempting to refine a concern that they can take back to that family member. Any time they bring up something that supports this approach you might add, “I think he/she would love to hear your thoughts about that.” Or, “That’s a good point, what do you think they might say when you tell them?”.
Support the innate value they each hold despite the difficulties they face.
They are both doing the best they can and are both worth knowing. Each may be comfortable with their present ways of thinking and, in time, each can become comfortable with changes their relationship may need to take.
Prepare for the life cycle of the relationship.
Every relationship has a beginning, middle and an end. Bringing up future activities like marriages, family get-togethers, even funerals include all family members, including the children. This solidifies and adds awareness to the total value of their relationship with their family member. We are always giving thanks to the previous generation as we prepare the next.
Search for options that build reciprocity.
Family members can get stuck in their own bull headedness. Look for ways the person you are talking to can offer something to their relative that simultaneously offers something in return. For example, offering to drive the other person’s child to soccer camp, knowing that this will encourage your child’s participation in soccer and build their relationship.
God loves everyone in your life and works across all relationships. He is the originator of the win-win relationship. His way serves everyone who knows you both. Knowing this adds opportunities you may not initially consider. Your friend will sense your approach and the call within them to come home. This will add value to your relationship with them no matter the outcome to the relationship itself. Your message will be clear, “I care about you and everyone else in your life.”
You will be encouraging healthy boundaries in their life and yours while avoiding relationship schisms that can last a lifetime.
To learn more about boundaries, communication and healthy relationships with others, sign up for the Grow in Oneness video course.