We can’t own people, but we definitely own relationships. And while we own them, like any property, a relationship can either become an asset or a liability.
Be it work or one’s private life, one of the biggest influence on the amount of happiness and misery of our lives are the people that we live, work and transact with; our relationships impact our personal happiness as well as misery.
Happiness ensues from a relationship when your attitude is to be of value to the other to the same extent as you derive value from the other. That’s when a relationship is an asset, a great investment.
If you give more than you receive, you feel burned out and exploited. It clearly means the other person is taking advantage of you. It means you are dealing with a parasite that lives off you and sucks the resources out of you. This kind of a relationship is a liability.
Guard against parasitic relationships. One way to do this is to clearly share responsibilities in a relationship.Talk about it, agree on it and commit to it. Another way is to create distance between you and them- emotional distance and physical distance. Emotional distancing though not better than confronting, is a natural defence mechanism most of us have – it’s about losing that empathetic connection with a person.
Without reciprocity, the best relationships can turn toxic.
I bring this up especially in the context of parenting because most people believe that parents simply have to give and oblige all the time to the whims and fancies of their children. This is how we raise them to be parasites. I have seen this in many parents- they end up raising parasites because they themselves were raised as one.
Teach children to be useful to the family. Assign some responsibilities and set clear expectations from them. This can be in terms of following daily routine, adhering to sleep timings, ipad usage and homework commitments. Then there is atleast the hope that they would grow up to be assets- if not for you atleast for someone else. In a relationship like parenting, which involves lots of giving on the part of parents, it’s ok to set expectations and demand compliance. They will be grateful one day.
So now, let’s take a test. Think of one of the important relationships you are in and see how many boxes does the relationship tick. The judgement whether your relationship is an asset or a liability, I leave it to you.
- Is the person better off with you in his or her life that they were before?
- Are you making the other person learn and grow as a person?
- Is the other person financially better off with you in his or her life than otherwise?
- Are you in anyway contributing to better emotional and physical health of the other person?
- Do you let the other person manage his or her time more efficiently and effectively?
- Is the energy of the other person more positive when around you?
A ‘No’ to one or more of these questions should really make us re-think the nature and our role in the relationship. Here are some ways of appriaching such a sutuation:
- If we are a ‘no’ in one area of relationship, we should try to resourceful and try to be a ‘Yes’ in another area.
- While we continue to improve the value we being to a relationship, we can clearly communicate our intentions and plans to the other persons in the relationship.
- If I am receving value in one area, think how can I return value in another area.
- Atleast think of ways you can not be a liability; thinks of simple things you can do to reduce the pains of the other person .
Aspiring to be an asset to your spouse, boss, peers, customers, friends, community or nation is definitely a more honorable way to live. Work to bring symbiosis in relationships- exchanging value for value is the only way to keep any relationship healthy and thriving.