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How to Handle Difficult Relationships

Photo by Jimmy Álvarez
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment. ~Eckhart Tolle

A few years ago, after months of turmoil and a constant tug of war spurred by different morals and beliefs, I walked away from a 10-year friendship. Looking back now I am completely at peace with the decision, but at the time, I was hurt, confused and angry at the turn of events that had brought us to that place.

When things had begun their steady downhill tumble, I pulled her aside and voiced my concerns, convinced she would change and I would once again be comfortable participating in the relationship.

In my eyes everything depended on her changing. Instead, the behavior continued and I began slowly backing away, telling everyone around me, “I just don’t understand why she’s doing this to me.”

The more I played into the truth of that one statement, the more I felt betrayed and completely out of control. By that time, the only choice I had was to remove myself from the situation and attempt to return to a place of balance and peace.

While I’ve had few situations since that time that have completely knocked me off balance, I read something the other day that, even now, was able to shed light on what might have been going on in my life at that time to bring such intense conflict into my experience.

“Any occurrence in our life that emotionally triggers us in a very negative way is always a message from the past being communicated to us in the present … we call the triggering event, ‘the messenger’.”

~ Michael Brown, The Presence Process

She was my messenger.  She was invoking an emotional response that brought feelings of hurt and insecurity boiling to the surface. For me the emotion was visceral, yet after hours of trying to explain why I felt the way I did, she just didn’t understand. I thought she didn’t see what was going on, when in reality, the message was meant for me — she was simply the vessel in which it was delivered.

According to Brown, every person in our lives who causes us to feel what we would label “negative emotion” is a messenger. They are bringing forth what we have created, and they are not always entirely aware of their role in the process.

Notice When You Play the Victim Card

Your circumstances today were created by the thoughts you had yesterday.

When you keep that in mind, it’s virtually impossible to convince yourself that you are the victim. The world is simply showing you a real life rendition of your beliefs — beliefs that can be changed to reflect a happier outcome.

In addition, anytime you feel as if someone is victimizing you, chances are they are serving as your messenger – offering you the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at why a situation is bringing up uncomfortable emotions.

I was not the victim in the friendship that I ended. Not only had I helped to create our unhealthy dynamic, but I had the opportunity to choose and create more positive relationships in my life from that point forward.

Refusing to see yourself as the victim in any situation allows you to regain your power and get to the root of the lessons the Universe is presenting to you.

Connect With Your Body

Sometimes I’m not fully in tune with the emotions that a situation presents, but I’ve come to notice that my body is amazing at alerting me when an emotion is negatively charged.

When your stomach gets tied in knots or your heart starts racing, it’s time to:

  • Pinpoint where the emotion is coming from
  • Get to the root of what the situation is bringing up for you
  • Find a way to clear the negative emotion from both your body and mind

Remember: It’s not always about eradicating the cause of the negative emotion. It’s about being able to recognize the message that it’s offering you.

Recognize Patterns You’ve Created

Coincidences don’t occur by happenstance — they are actually patterns you’ve helped to create.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve harbored the belief that I’m alone and I will always be alone — no matter how many friends or family members surround me. I recently noticed that I’ve attracted several people into my life who have allowed me to play out this belief:

  • People who have left when I needed them most
  • People who have proved to be anything but loyal

Each of these people, while I blamed them extensively at the time, were simply messengers, allowing me to take part in the experience I created. And unfortunately, similar scenarios continued to play out with different players over and over again, until I was able to see the patterns and recognize the belief that was powering them.

Learn To Forgive

If you are able to see the people in your life as messengers — players in the story of your life — forgiveness becomes easy, effortless even.

They did not intentionally hurt you, they were simply facilitating your growth, offering you lessons through their actions and your subsequent reaction. They were serving you even when you believed they were hurting you.

Powerful, right?

Looking back through the relationships I’ve had in which I was deeply hurt, I recognize the ways these situations have molded me and offered me a better understanding of myself and the world around me.

For that, I am incredibly grateful for all of my messengers — no matter how tough the message was to receive.

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About the author

Kayla Albert is freelance writer intent on living life deliberately. You can follow her at Confessions of a Perfectionist. If there's a writing project you'd like for her to tackle, visit her website at

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2 thoughts on How to Handle Difficult Relationships

  1. Hi Kayla,

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I can definitely identify with having to end friendships (or even family relationships), and it can be such a difficult decision.

    I just want to say that I agree with what seems to be your underlying point that it can be so good for us to use difficult relationship situations to explore ourselves, see blindspots in our own behavior, and to grow. Recognizing this and putting it into action can be so empowering.

    Thanks for sharing your story and wisdom.

  2. Monique

    Thank you Kayla.

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