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Troubled Relationships – Avoid Casual Advice and Learn to Trust Yourself

January 24, 2009

Every now and then, someone asks me for advice on their troubled relationship. I always feel honoured when people trust me enough to share their deepest feelings with me. I like listening to people, am fascinated by relationships, and I’m happy to discuss feelings and empathise until the cows come home. What I am wary of however, is giving advice when asked how to deal with a specific relationship trouble.

A benefit of my experience is that I know an unhealthy relationship when I see one. I can identify the early warning signs of abuse you may initially try to ignore. I’m in tune with the tactics used to hide troubled relationships, so chances are I can identify whether you’re an abuse victim through your body language and general talk of the relationship. It would be easy for me to give you brutally honest and logical advice.

Unfortunately, emotions are anything but logical and my perspective is that of someone outside looking in. Picture this: I give you advice. You’ve already envisioned how you want your situation to turn out. If it doesn’t work out the way you wanted, it’s likely you would resent and shut me out from then on. It’s easier to use someone as a scapegoat than to take responsibility for your choices. I know first-hand that shutting out people who can help is not a good move. Therefore, I choose not to give you the opportunity to burn a bridge you might later regret.

Your life is your responsibility. It’s one thing to bounce your thoughts off another person and have them talk you through your emotions, but you have to have the strength to make your own decisions. I can empathise with you, but I can’t tell you what you should do. I can’t even tell you what I would do in your situation, because I am not in your situation. I don’t have the same emotional ties with the people involved. I haven’t lived your particular experience. Ultimately, the decision rests with you. It is you who will bear the emotional weight of the result.

If I had to give you advice, it would be to learn to trust yourself. If your intuition is telling you something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. Deep down, you already know what to do, you’re just seeking reassurance. As so often happens, the right decision is the one that takes a lot more courage to make. Listen to your intuition. Muster your courage. Trust yourself. Then go with it.

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