Building Healthy Relationships (Part 2 of 4)

Greetings and welcome.  In this 2nd post, I want to continue where I left off in considering what ingredients one would choose or not choose in building healthy relationships.  My hope and goal is to challenge you and invite you to consider what you can do to choose and invest in ingredients to build better and healthier relationships for your life.  It does not matter who that person you are relating is.  The better question is how are you negotiating what behaviors you will or will not tolerate for building a healthy relationship.

In my last post, I proposed the thought of eating a vegetarian lasagna where the only vegetable in the lasagna was lima beans.  I asked the question: would you order a Lima Bean Lasagna.  My hunch is probably not.  Lima beans and lasagna do not go together (I know, some of you would differ on this).  But the point is, when you think of gathering ingredients to build a lasagna, my hunch is that you would not rush to the produce isle to purchase lima beans as the only vegetable in building your vegetable lasagna.

In the same way, let me introduce two ingredients that one needs to consider to avoid ‘putting in’ to building healthy relationships.


The first unhealthy ingredient I would suggest you need to avoid and not put up with is the stance some people take in their insistence to be right.  In saying this, I am not saying that at times, one does need to be right, accurate, or correct in their particular work or profession.  If I need heart surgery, I want to find someone that knows how to perform this surgery and do it right or accurately.

The challenge is this: when Mr. Heart Surgeon comes home to see his spouse, does he continue performing the need to be right on his wife, kids and friendships?  For example, he walks in the door and he observes his wife cutting up a bell pepper.  And the words come out: “That is not how you should cut up that bell pepper.  That is not the right way to do it.”  Mr. Heart Surgeon then moves into the children’s bedroom and observes them cleaning their room.  Again the words come out: “That is not how you dust or vacuum.  That is not the right way to do it.”  Later on that week, he gets together with some friends to play some basketball.  A person shoots the ball from the outside and misses and again here come the words: “That is not how you shoot a basketball.  How you do it is not the right way.”

Thus, the question needs to be asked: Do you always have a need to be right in your conversation with people and in your personal relationships?  When you hear these words in your conversation with someone in your life, how do you respond?  Would you put up with this ‘need to be right’ ingredient for building a healthy relationship?  Is this something you would like to hear of someone observing how you do life and then hearing them saying, “You are not doing this or that right.”

A mentor of mine once made this statement to me: “Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?”  Always having a need to be right will damage and destroy your personal relationships.  Find a way to engage in conversations with the people in your life informing them how their words  affect you when they insist on wanting to be right.  Let them know that their need to be right only leads to you avoiding them, due to your fear that they are going to make comments on how you do life by trying to correct you, due to their need to be right.

Just like getting rid of lima beans as the main ingredient for a vegetarian lasagna, what are some ways that you are moving towards getting rid of being with someone who always has a need to be right?  Do you tolerate this, avoid this person, or do try to find a way to inform this person how their need to be right affects you.  How much longer are you going to put up with this person talking to you this way?


Question: Have you made a mistake yet today?  Did you make a mistake yesterday and how are you preparing for when you make a mistake tomorrow? Mistakes are a part of life and they are the reality of life.  To make mistakes means that you are human.

The problem with this relationship ingredient is this tendency: Do you tend to criticize people for their mistakes?  Like its sibling, The Need to be Right, the words in a conversation from the mouth of a Need to Criticize might sound like this: “You will never get it right!”  We have all, either heard or we have said this critical comment to someone in our personal relationships.  All of us can resonate recognizing these words.

So how do you tolerate or put up with someone saying to you, “You will never get it right” when you make a mistake?  I have met or worked with people who walk on eggshells around their spouse, their family, their friends, their co-workers really trying not to make a mistake due to their fear that someone will criticize them.  Instead of walking in freedom, they walk in fear, constantly monitoring their behavior so not to make a mistake.  They know that if they make a mistake, they will hear  criticism.

Allowing criticism in your relationships with set you up for walking in fear and walking on eggshells. Do you notice that you do this?  Maybe the reason why you do this is your fear that right around the corner, you are expecting someone’s criticism commenting on how you made a mistake.  Unfortunately, you put up with and allow this unhealthy behavior ingredient as part of your relationships.  Inside your mind and heart you have already rehearsed the words, “You will never get it right.”

So, how are you going to get rid and remove criticism from your relationships?  You are never going to get rid of making mistakes.  But can you find a way to work with this critical person and find a way to remove and get rid of the tendency to criticize?  Are you willing to remove and get rid of this?

Phil Kiehl, MFT, M.DIV.

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ingredients you would not put into building a healthy relationship.  Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.