There are times in our life plans when we feel like we have hit a brick wall. These types of barriers can be any obstacle, real or perceived, that prevents us from achieving a desired objective. This can occur in our personal life or in any type of relationship whether with a spouse, a family member, friend, or co-worker. We struggle to understand why the other person [whom we perceive to be the obstacle] cannot change to meet our [rational or irrational] needs. When we do approach roadblocks, personal or relational, it may help to consider four basic approaches that can help us to consider healthy methods of dealing with these barriers.
1. Get new information. Do you understand the situation completely? Are your concerns based on a false premise or irrational idea? Would additional clarifying information help you see your way past this perceived barrier? Usually personal introspection, referred to as insight, helps us to see the issue more clearly. We may have been too quick to pass judgement about the intent behind a comment or text message. We may be feeling too defensive to “hear” what the other person is saying. Seeking and receiving additional information can help us move past an obstacle.
2. Acquire a new skill. Acquiring additional knowledge and skills can help us move forward with additional confidence. For example, learning to communicate more effectively can help couples feel less defensive and more responsive to each other. Learning coping strategies helps us deal with depression and anxiety. Learning new skills also increases our feelings of self-confidence and worth, making us less sensitive to other’s comments and judgement.
3. Change the environment. This can refer to something as simple as adjusting a family meal time to better accommodate a family member. Having wife-husband chats after the kids are down rather than right after work or just before dinner when all the pent-up energy of the day is usually at a peak. It means turning off the TV before engaging in those important conversations. For some it may mean an actual physical move or job change to improve physical or mental health.
4. Learn to cope with those things that cannot be changed. There are simply some things that, no matter how badly we want it, simply will not change. The ocean will not become fresh water. Your spouse will continue to love country music even though you have expressed your opposition to it. She/he may compromise what they listen to with you, but they will still be country down in their soul. Learning to accept, adapt, and cope with those things that we cannot change helps to refine us into more grateful people and gentler partners.