Are you the problem in your relationship?

Posted September 7

In this edition of LIFEadvice, Coach Kim explains how taking responsibility for your part in a relationship can be the first step to improving it. (Deseret Photo)


I’m a good looking woman in my 50s and I’m devastated right now because the man I was dating, who I was in love with and who said he was in love with me, broke up with me last year and I still feel horribly torn up about it. I know I have a tendency to be a teller and a screamer, and I don’t like this about myself, but I really think if someone loved me, they should give me a chance to learn how to approach disagreements in a more positive way. But he didn’t give me that chance. I know I also have trust issues, but I just need a good partner to stay with me and help me overcome these issues and communicate better. I am now thinking he didn’t really ever love me, because he wouldn’t stay with me to help me. How can I get someone who will give me a chance to do better?


I’m assuming when you say you are a “teller and a screamer” that you have a subconscious tendency to talk a lot, get upset easily, and handle confrontations badly. You also said you have trust issues, which I assume means you are subconsciously on the lookout for mistreatment and insults all the time, and you probably find them quite often too, because you always find what you’re looking for.

I’m going to be blunt with you here, because I really want to help you. The truth is, you cannot expect anyone to love you enough to put up with drama, fear, constant defensiveness, yelling and immature behavior for long. You are going to have to do some serious work on yourself, learn how to process emotions and situations in an accurate way and communicate how you feel with respect towards others. Screaming might make some people listen to you, but I guarantee in the long run it is making people lose respect for you (even your children).

You may have learned screaming and yelling worked for getting what you wanted when you were young, but it’s never going to work for you as an adult. It is time to grow up and get control of yourself. I have some good worksheets on my website for learning to process emotions you should read. They may help you to recognize why you are upset and find some better ways to respond.

If you get offended and see mistreatment often and you are not good at handling disagreements or mistreatment in a calm, respectful way, it’s time to take some responsibility for your relationships and stop looking for others to blame.

I have another important worksheet on my website called the Are You The Problem worksheet and I highly recommend that you fill it out and score yourself. Maybe you will find out you aren’t as bad as you think, but if you are honest with yourself and find you are high on most of the questions, it’s time to get to work changing some things, starting with your policies and procedures.

From 0 to 7 years old, everything you see or experience creates policies, beliefs or conclusions about the world, your value, your family and how things work. You are also experimenting with different procedures or social techniques, and whatever worked (or what you saw most often) became your procedures for dealing with others. If you grew up around some dysfunctional relatives, you may have learned some really bad procedures, but you can break that chain and change your behavior. It will take some work, but you can do it.

I believe changing your subconscious relationship behavior must start with changing some of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, others and life. If you see these things in a fear-based way, you are going to react badly to most situations. With my clients, I start by helping them adopt these two basic principles or policies:

  1. Your intrinsic value is not in question. It is infinite and absolute and no one can diminish it with their opinions, words or actions. All human beings have the same worth, all the time, no matter what. You are different from others (and experiencing a totally different classroom journey than they are) but your value is always the same. Understanding this means not getting as insulted or upset when others don’t like you, approve of you or criticize you. These experiences are just interesting lessons to help you practice being strong, but they don’t affect your value. You must practice trusting this is truth every day and make it one of the policies that governs the way you see yourself and all other people. This principle will quiet your fear of not being good enough, and this fear is usually behind most bad behavior.
  2. You are here on the planet to learn and grow, in a process of becoming. Everything that happens to you is today’s lesson to help you get there. These lessons are always opportunities to step it up and become more wise, loving, strong and in control of yourself. This is what the process of maturing is all about. Your family members and friends all serve as teachers in your life. When they offend or upset you, it’s just today’s chance to practice being mature and wise. The more you work at seeing each experience accurately — as today’s lesson — the less upset and out of control you will be.
Each of us suffer to some degree (every day) with the same two core fears, the fear of failure (that we might not be good enough) and the fear of loss (that we might be taken from or treated unfairly). Most of us are more sensitive to one of the two than the other. You can ask yourself, “Am I more often upset because I feel insulted or not good enough? Or because I feel taken from or mistreated?” Once you understand which is a bigger trigger for you, you will also know which of the two principles above you need to work on most.

If you get insulted easy, keep working on seeing all human beings as having the same infinite value. If you experience loss more, practice seeing your life and every thing that happens as your perfect classroom every day. These will help you over-react less and become more mature and calm.

I also recommend that you consider getting some coaching or attend classes on relationship, communication and mindfulness skills. They would make a huge difference in your next relationship. I also think it's time to let go of the hurt over that last one. It was a lesson and taught you some things, but it's time to move on and trust that better things lie ahead.

You can do this.

Kimberly Giles is the president of She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.


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