Tough Relationships

We all have them.  You know…

  • The sister-in-law that one-ups you all the time.
  • The mother that never helps out.
  • The friend that gets drunk and embarrassing every time you spend time together.
  • The husband that never has anything nice to say.
  • The child that is strong willed and never obeys.


Those tough relationships.


They are draining.  Mostly mentally, but sometimes physically also. Most of that energy is spent wishing they were some how different.  We just want them to be easier to get along with.

But they’re not.  They probably won’t change.  And all that energy you’re spending wishing, wanting, hoping, is just wasted.


Do you wish you could just feel better about these relationships?


You can. 


This is what you’re signing up for if you want to feel better; you don't get to change the other person.  You can only change yourself and do the hard work of managing your thoughts.


Think you still want to sign up for this challenge?



I am going to outline how I help my clients with tough relationships.  If you follow these steps, your perspective often changes.  A change in perspective is sometimes all we need.  And sometimes, we need more coaching to help us, but these questions are a great start.


Let’s get started:

  1. Take 10 minutes. Write out every ugly judgement you have about the person.  Don’t edit yourself.  Don’t be kind or appropriate.  Let everything that Satan is whispering to you show up on paper. 

Satan likes to hide in the shadows.  It is easier to sneak around in the background and destroy.  When you bring him out in the light, he has less power.  Uncover him.  Really hear the lies he has been whispering.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:20


  1. Now go back through all those judgments. Circle any of them you have about yourself.  Do you have projections of yourself on this person?

Most judgments we have are just projections of judgments we have about ourselves.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

We seem to live out this verse automatically.


  1. Describe how YOU would create this person. What would you expect this person to do or not to do?  How would you want them to behave?  What would you want them to say? Be specific and outrageous.

We often like to think we are smarter, wiser or a better judge than God.  We don’t do this purposely or even out loud.  Silently, we create what we believe will be “better” in our minds.  The question is, better for who?

He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man?  Will they not both fall into a pit?” Luke 6:39


  1. What would you THINK and FEEL about this person if they were exactly as described above? Write this down.

Do you know that you can think and feel these things without changing the person?  Yep.  Maybe not easy to do, but you can.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5


  1. Now allow them to be who God made them. Who are they exactly?  What do they do?  How do they act?  What are their consistent actions?

Really look at this person.  Try to take off the lenses you currently have.  Examine how God made them.  Observe what they might be wrestling with.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving 1 Timothy 4:4


  1. Now try to imagine why they are like how they are above. What thoughts might they be having?  How might they feel?  In what ways might Satan be attacking them?

This is a good way to put yourself in another person’s shoes.  Look at how Satan might be attacking them.  Feel their struggle.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8


  1. Who do YOU want to be in this relationship? What kind of person do you want to be?  What actions do you want to have?  What can you offer or give this person?

We get so wrapped up in the conflict that we forget to step back and take a look at who we want to be.  Often, when we look at our actions, we realize we play a part in the conflict.  We may not be at fault, but we may have not set boundaries, expressed things clearly or been available.

Also, God calls us to serve.  Often when we are frustrated with the people around us, it is because we have thoughts about how they are not serving us.  If we can bring our focus back to serving, we show up in a much more loving way.

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9


  1. How do you want to think about this other person? How do you want to think about yourself?

When we are confident in who God made us and assured in God’s plan for putting every person on this earth for a reason, we can trust God to make it all work out.  Trusting in His plan is the best plan.  We let go of the control of other people and just learn to love them and let them live their lives.  That allows us to be ourselves and live our best life.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. Jeremiah 17:7


I pray that this exercise helps you in your relationships.  May you find the clarity to bring your best self to any relationship and show the love of God in all you do.


Do you have a REALLY tough relationship?  Are you struggling with a person and just don’t know how to handle it anymore?  Or maybe you struggle with your own self-confidence.  No problem.  Sign up for a FREE 45-minute coaching session and we can talk all about it.


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