Difficult relationships: how to reinterpret your own narrative

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Robert Maurer
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Difficult relationships: how to reinterpret your own narrative

Obstacles, weaknesses, sadness are the vital ingredients at the base of difficult relationships and which vary according to how we deal with them. Today we will analyze them from a literary perspective: we will become the heroes protagonists of our life.

Last update: June 02, 2022

We are social beings. As such it is difficult, if not impossible, to develop a healthy life without making connections with anyone. Since childhood we socialize and we become part of more or less numerous groups, which over time can expand and give rise to relationships of any kind, even difficult relationships. 



Who has never experienced tension in a relationship? In the family, at work or in a couple, any relationship can turn into a difficult relationship. We can think that such situations come as obstacles, but in reality we should see them as challenges.

Let's not be fooled: life is a constant challenge. We overcome stages, cycles and relationships. When people relate to their respective baggage, personalities, temperaments, present circumstances and future dreams, we are almost faced with a psycho-chemical experiment, ambitious and optimistic, yes, but that may not always go well. We discover difficult relationships from a new point of view.

Flames or combustion

Usually when we enter into a relationship with someone (be it romantic, business, family or platonic), we all want to feel inside that flame that makes us feel alive, loved, admired and respected. Many times, however, the flame turns into pure combustion, and often we don't like that.

Some of our relationships become difficult without us being able to do anything about it. Tensions often result in defiant attitudes and even verbal confrontations. When we can, we tend to avoid these people so as not to exacerbate the conflict, but we don't always succeed.



Another way to deal with difficult relationships

If we think of literature or cinema, we see that each protagonist has a character of his own, dynamic, sensitive to the evolution of the plot. Conflict situations arise from the confrontation with other protagonists, antagonists of the first. They are the ones who challenge the protagonist's perspective, putting him in situations that act as stimuli to explain and improve resources and skills.

Life isn't that different from a movie. We must put on our protagonist mask and begin to outline our antagonists and the challenges that come with them, so that you can release the tension and grow.

Victims or heroes of difficult relationships

When faced with tense situations related to a difficult relationship, there are always two options: we can complain and be victims of our antagonists or look for the way out to emerge victorious. It is not a confrontation, but an inner work aimed at bringing out the variables or factors that led us to that situation.

Insecurity is not good company for dealing with difficult relationships. To choose the path of the hero, the first thing to do is to learn to appreciate and respect yourself. Sometimes, a phrase such as “If you keep talking to me like this, I'm leaving” reflects the attitude of a brave and powerful person. Our antagonists exert power over us precisely because they strike where it hurts.

Learn and heal relationships

A very important part of our psychological development lies in understanding, heal and change responses to our emotional wounds. Many therapists argue that we tend to attract people who possess the worst and best characteristics of our parents.


This happens for a reason. It is an unconscious reaction to the need (secret to us) to solve problems related to our parents that we have not been able to solve. In many cases, it may be the pursuit of admiration and respect from a critical and severe father.


If we are careful, our difficult relationships often have a common factor: an antagonist as an authority figure who perhaps represents the role of the dominant father that we have never been able to fulfill.

This antagonist game is the technique used successfully in many personal development support sessions. It consists in creating a personalized exercise in which the individual will find his character and his antagonist. The difference with literature is that our antagonists are not demonic characters nor bad by nature; they are usually people like us, with their acquired fears, hopes, emotions and patterns of conduct. Fragile… and at the same time weak.

The teachers of patience

If we decide to face our difficult relationships as heroes, we will begin to see the our antagonists as true teachers of patience, courage, compassion and flexibility ...


In fact, we can understand them as an opportunity to strengthen and improve our character and our emotional muscles. By working on these aspects, we will be able to develop and improve sleeping areas and forgotten or ignored resources.

The key questions

In coaching there are some key questions we can ask ourselves to better manage difficult relationships. These are questions intended to expose our capacity for discernment. 

If we want to play at writing the book of our life, we will find ourselves analyzing the characters that populate it. We will ask ourselves what our current antagonists are and what makes them so hostile to us.

We will ask ourselves what are the reasons that led us to choose those antagonists if it were we who wrote our history. Usually the antagonists are introduced to create a more evolved version of the protagonist of the story.


Another question that will help us manage difficult relationships is about the skills or virtues that can help us in the challenge. In coaching we learn to manage a long series of virtues, such as assertiveness, resilience, courage, compassion, patience, self-awareness ...

If you are willing to be the authors of your own story, maybe you should sit down and start writing your life script. Observing difficult situations and relationships from a higher step, that of the director, which will give you a better perspective than that of the actor in the spotlight.

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