It is safe to say that most of us live with roommates or family members. It is totally normal to have disputes or situations arise within these relationships. A lot of the time these problems are resolved pretty quickly. But, what happens when they don’t? What happens when situations keep recurring and your relationships seem to be getting worse and worse? Where it just seems like no matter what you say or do, nothing seems to be getting any better?
Here I have listed and explained 6 steps on how to live with people who don’t always make it easy. Of course the end game is to always try and work towards a better relationship but sometimes it just doesn’t look like it is headed that way. If you can’t afford to move out or if this person is a family member, you may have to stick it out.
These 6 steps can guide you to your inner peace and help you feel safe while living with someone who is angry or frustrated.
I used to be (let’s be honest, a part of me always will be) very controlling. I look back to when I first moved in with Eric and his family and I can clearly see that I was the toxic person in that household. At the time, the family was not prepared to ‘handle me’ in a positive way. It was like a battle field up in that home. My need to control everyone and everything had us all in a very negative, tense space. The sad part about it is that I wasn’t even aware of it. Which leads me to Step 1: You have to be the difference.
What I did recognize within myself was how unhappy and frustrated I was with my life. When I decided to start reading and truly listening to positive audios, I realized that the change I wanted had to start with me. Whether you are the toxic person or you are living with someone who is very negative and unhappy with life, it still has to start with you. You need to initiate the changes.
As a quick side note, I do want to be clear that when I say toxic I mean someone who is negative, who has an attitude that is emotionally and mentally draining, someone who is unhappy and sharing all that anger with everyone around them. If you are living with someone who scares you, who is aggressive and who you think could physically hurt you then I suggest moving out or if possible having them leave and getting a new roommate. Living with someone who is mentally, emotionally and physically disruptive is not worth the risk. If you find yourself in a position where you find it hard to leave, then I hope, I really hope, you ask for outside help and find a solution to removing this person from your immediate space.
It all starts with you and making the right changes. I know, it is so tempting to point fingers and blame the other person, even if it is their fault but, what is even more important is to recognize your part in it. I bet you, 100% the other person is also blaming you. So, if you want changes and you want to feel at ease in your home then start with putting that finger down. Although, don’t fantasize about them doing the same.
The reason why I started with this step is because the rest of these steps are going to be mighty hard if you aren’t willing to take initiative and make your changes. This really means, putting away your pride and ego to make room for compassion and patience.
Step #2: Question yourself first. As mentioned earlier, start thinking about whether you are that toxic person. Look back and think about some of the things you have said or done that maybe you wouldn’t have liked if they did it to you. Start putting yourself in their shoes to try and understand where they are coming from. We already know how we feel and where we are coming from. The reason for the tension and problems is because there is a lack of understanding and proper communication. When you take the time to question yourself first and think about what you have done or said really helps piece certain things together from your perspective.
If you find yourself feeling guilty about the things you have done or said, that is just a part of self-reflection. Self-reflection is difficult because you realize things about yourself that you maybe don’t like. That is okay! We all make mistakes and have flaws.
That’s the beauty of self-reflection because we can then learn and improve. In this case, you gotta forgive yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself and be at peace with it. The way I look at is that I can now take responsibility for it. I have recognized this dirty part of myself and now I can throw it in the wash and keep the clean cycle running. We alllll do things we are not proud of and if you don’t take it and make it into a learning experience, then it is going to sit there and stink up your room. We have got to start the healing process.
Step #3: Ask questions, don’t assume. When you are ready to start talking to this person, start with open ended questions. Don’t assume how the other person might be feeling or thinking. As a tip, open ended questions begin with ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘tell me’, or ‘explain’. This helps give you a better understanding and creates an efficient conversation. Instead of short, closed answers, you are now allowing the person to express their thoughts and feelings. Keep in mind, that this person may have an attitude. The more you ask questions, the more they will speak and feel like they are being understood, leading them to feel at ease with you.
Step #4: Change your expectations. We all have expectations. A lot of the time you will hear to let go of expectations because they will just disappoint you.
I don’t think that is true. I think having healthy expectations for yourself and others is very helpful. Of course, these expectations should be realistic and positive. In this case, when you have a dispute with someone, it is important to make a mental note of your expectations. After the conversation is over what do you expect to come of it?
This is where you have to be realistic because you are not figuring this out alone. There are 2 or even 3 of you in a conversation and not having a realistic expectation can hinder the conversation and have it all end in pieces. When you have a realistic view point then you know that not everything is going to end up in your favor. There will be some sacrifices from everyone in the conversation.
A positive expectation means you are aware of the problem and yet are going to look at the conversation and the people in front of you with positive lens. You are not going to judge, point fingers or expect more that the person can handle without communicating it. A positive outlook allows you to see the end result and find positive scenarios to get there. So, what you say will be completely different. Instead of jumping the gun and accusing, you will express yourself in a different way that allows the other person know how you feel.
No one likes to have these big, huge crazy expectations placed on them. So, it is important to communicate and come to terms about what you both expect from each other.
Step 5: Listen. This is a no brainer and yet we all struggle with listening to other people. It happens, we all tend to tune out and our eyes glaze over. It is important to sit up, look the person in their eyes and focus on what they are saying–especially if it is a conversation that leads to a solution for the both of you. If you don’t pay attention, you might agree to something you never wanted. I tend to repeat what they are saying in my head and once they are done speaking, I repeat what I think they were explaining. This acknowledges that we are on the same page. This tip will really enhance your listening skills and help you solve more problems rather than create new ones.
Step 6: Give Space. This is more of a last scenario. If you find yourselves not coming to an agreement, then it is important to give each other some space. Don’t waste this opportunity though. Give yourselves enough time to really think about what you both want. Even ask advice for someone who is neutral and try to gain a different perspective.
This space can prove very beneficial if used correctly. Not only are you giving your emotions a break from the constant tension and frustrations but, you are also giving yourself time to relax, breath and brainstorm different ideas that could work for the both of you. Sometimes you just need to step back from the person you are at odds with and give both of you a break.
You might ask, how do we give each other space if we live together or if I constantly see this person? Well, you can take a mini weekend vacay, spend the night at a friend or family members home or pick up an extra shift at work. Whatever it is where you will spend little time with this person and away from any negative reminders.
Once you are both ready to come up with a solution you will be refreshed and ready to share ideas.
I know the frustrations that come with dealing with toxic people, especially if you live with them. What we can do is work on ourselves and grow from our experiences.
No, not everything is going to be pretty flowers and rainbows but, I do believe if you are willing to do your part then the results will be as it should.
Finding your inner peace and happiness in these situations may not look pretty at first. It will take time and several attempts to find a solution and you know what, sometimes the solution is letting go. As long as you feel like you tried, you can find your peace there.
Until next time,