THE BLOG
08/12/2013 06:04 pm ET | Updated Oct 12, 2013

Relationships and Stress

It's the stuff movies are made of...

Almost every good plot line includes something about relationships with friends, family members, colleagues or significant others.

And it's truly a gift to have people that care about you, who want to spend time with you and notice what you do or don't do. In a way, it's a validation that your life matters and has significance.

But when you find yourself feeling time pressured, the treasure of relationships can start to feel like an oppressive burden.

In these situations, common (but often unhealthy) responses to additional requests or perceived request on your time are to:
  • Silently withdraw
  • Resentfully complete the activity
  • Sharply lash out
These type of reactions then start to drive a wedge between you and the person on the receiving end and can leave you feeling guilty and frustrated.

But there is a better way.

Here are four steps for completing a sleight-of-mind trick when you feel overwhelmed by requests from those around you.

1. Treasure the gift. The opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. Take a moment to appreciate the presence of someone in your life who notices how you spend your time.

2. Consider your options. Reflect on the situation and consider whether anything could change. Could you come home earlier? Would you be able to spend less time in front of the computer?

3. Express your perspective. Instead of assuming the other person can naturally see the pressure that you're experiencing, commit to expressing what's going on inside you. It could sound something like this, "I really appreciate that you want to spend more time with me and I feel badly that I can't meet all of your requests because of ______. Are there any particular ways I can show you that you are a priority to me?"

4. Keep your commitments. When you say you will do something, follow through. Even if you have to say "no" sometimes, people will appreciate it when they can rely on you to stick to your "yes."

Following these four steps will help you to feel better about your relationships and about yourself. This sleight of mind is not about being fake, but about choosing how you will respond when you experience the sensation of feeling pressured.

Personal and professional relationships are an investment of time and energy.

But they are worth it.

In some ways, the movies are right. Your relationships with people who matter to you make the best plot lines. Make sure they're part of your life story.

To your brilliance!

Elizabeth Grace

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E, a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished through an exclusive Schedule Makeover process. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.

For more by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, click here.

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