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14 Steps to Mend a Broken Relationship

14 Steps to Mend a Broken Relationship

Lately, I’ve been bumbling my way through a relationship with a friend.  She’s a little skittish, so I hold back and don’t always say what I think or ask for what I need. Then I get frustrated because I feel unheard and unexpressed and not validated, which is SO not her fault, because I’m the one not asking for what I need!

It got to the point where we were hooked into a really icky pattern. I had expectations that never got met. Then after spending time with her, I’d feel hurt and disappointed, and she’d feel terrible for disappointing me. The whole thing wasn’t working for either of us.

So I suggested we go through a process I’ve now been through with quite a few significant people in my life. I call it “renegotiating our sacred contract.” When a relationship just isn’t working, we have two choices. We can just bless each other, thank each other for the time and the teachings, and release the relationship with love. Buh bye. Or we can bring our grievances to the table, examine old patterns that aren’t serving us anymore, call out any unspoken agreements we’ve unconsciously agreed to, and mindfully and gently renegotiate the terms of the relationship.

Renegotiating a sacred contract is always a risk, because whenever you come to the table to redefine terms, there’s always the chance you won’t be able to agree to terms, and you’ll have to either end the relationship or make the decision to stay in a relationship that isn’t working, which can be pretty unsatisfying and self-defeating.

But in my experience, this process can be a life and relationship — changing experience. So far, it’s saved many of the relationships that were threatened as we grew and changed together.

So how do you do it?

How To Renegotiate A Sacred Contract

1. Take a moment in silence and tap into your highest self (what I call your “Inner Pilot Light” or what you might call your spirit.) Then tap into the highest self of your loved one. Allow those two selves to agree to bring into being whatever is in the highest good for you both during your negotiation. Invite the highest self of your loved one to communicate any messages you might need to know going into the conversation. Resolve to allow the highest good to come into being without attaching to any specific outcome.

2. Initiate dialogue. This is easiest when both parties are unhappy with the status quo. If one of you is clueless because the other has been faking it, it can take more moxy to admit that you’d like things to be different. Make sure you lead with compassion and gratitude, not blaming, shaming, criticizing, or judging. If you put someone on the defensive from the get-go, you won’t get far.

3. Establish safety. If this is a relationship you really wish to resuscitate, make it clear that you are not here to fight. You’re here to do CPR.  Help your loved one reduce stress responses in his or her nervous system, so he or she doesn’t get all “fight-or-flight” on you. Remind the one you love of how much you care and are committed to saving the relationship.

4. Set clear intentions. Get clear on what you both desire from the relationship. Be vulnerable. Get brutally honest. What outcome do you wish to achieve? You are a master manifester when you, The Universe, and your loved one set clear intentions for co-creation. When your intentions are a mess, you’ll create a mess.

5. Lead with gratitude. Let your loved one know how much you care. This can be challenging when the relationship has broken down, because it’s easy to focus on built up resentment, unmet expectations, disappointments, frustrations, anger, or feelings of betrayal. List the reasons you cherish the relationship, even if it feels impossibly vulnerable to do so. When you both lead from gratitude, it will soften the process and remind you both why you’re doing this.

6. Determine whats working for you both. Sign up for more of that.  Break it down into clear line items and put it in your contract.

7. Own your stuff. How have you contributed to the breakdown of the relationship? Take responsibility for the part you’ve played in co-creating the relationship’s breakdown, rather than playing the victim. When both of you are willing to own your own part in the dysfunction, you’ll find an opening, a place for negotiation, an opportunity for change and healing arises. It will also diffuse some of the resentment, disappointment, or anger you may both feel.

8. Confess what isnt working for you. Be willing to be uncomfortably, even painfully honest. Don’t lead with blame, shame, criticism, or judgment. Make it about you as much as you can (use “I” language. “I feel ____ when you _____.”) and avoid “You” language. “You did _____ to me.”) If you’re going to point out ways in which your loved one makes you unhappy (and yes, you must), deliver your message gently, with great compassion. Practice non-violent communication. Invite your loved one to confess what isn’t working on his/her end.

9. Brainstorm solutions. A sacred contract renegotiation requires compromise. Once you’ve laid your cards on the table, how might you fix what’s not working? Remember, this is not an ultimatum. You are not making demands, nor is your loved one. You are merely making suggestions, and you can see how your loved one responds. If you can both agree on new terms based on a brainstorm that resonates with you both, write it down as a line item. This is a new term in your sacred contract.

10. Go the mat. Assuming steps 1-8 have gone well, get brave. (If they haven’t, consider hiring a therapist. I’m regularly in therapy with my husband, and I’ve also now been in therapy twice to try to save difficult friendships I cherish.) Once you both realize it’s safe to be honest, take your confessions a vulnerable step deeper. Speak radical truth — gently and with ownership of your part in it all. Don’t hold back. Read your loved one and check in with how things are going. Be willing to take a break and come back later if one of you is hitting your wall. Determine the level of commitment both of you are demonstrating. Is your loved one willing to go to the mat with you? Or is one of you shutting down? Are you able to stay in a place of compassion and gratitude? Is your loved one? Can you get radically honest without getting triggered?

11. Be present with your own reactions. Take breaks if you need time- and give your loved one permission to do the same, If you or your loved one needs to step back from the negotiation process, do what you can to reassure each other, since stepping back from the negotiation can trigger fears of rejection or abandonment. Ask for the space you need, but do what you can to reassure the one you love that you’re not rejecting the relationship; you’re just processing.

12. Avoid the tendency to exert control. This is not a time to prove that you’re right. Healthy relationships are not a power struggle. Be willing to be wrong, while simultaneously speaking your truth. If the relationship is important to you, make peace with your discomfort with being out of control in a difficult relationship.

13. Rewrite your contract. Can you agree to new terms? Get it in writing so it’s SUPER DUPER clear. Give yourselves permission to keep noodling the contract. Add to it or amend it as new thoughts come up. Print it out and sign it if you really want to make it official. But also acknowledge that the contract may be changed at any time. Give each other permission to initiate a “renegiating the sacred conversation” anytime one of you feels it is needed.

14. Celebrate! If your relationship survives this process, celebrate! It can be such a relief to just speak truth that you may feel 1,000 pounds lighter just from being who you really are. If it goes well, you’re likely to feel a giddy sense of potential and feelings of hopefulness about the nature of your relationship.

What if it doesnt go well?

If your sacred contract negotiation doesn’t go well, that’s a good sign that it’s time for both of you to determine how much you value the relationship. If the stakes are high — you’re married, related, or BFF’s, get a good couples therapist. If you’re not that invested in the relationship, be willing to bless each other, thank each other for the spiritual lessons you’ve both learned, and say goodbye with grace and compassion. I’m the kind of person who wants to know, with 100 percent certainty, that I’ll be close to the people I love when we’re both 85 and in our rocking chairs. But I’m learning that sometimes, with grace, it’s time to bless, honor, and thank the people our souls call into our lives to teach us lessons and then release them when the learning is done — with great love. I used to think that if a relationship didn’t last forever, somebody f*cked up. But I now think differently. Maybe sometimes we show up in each other’s lives to learn what our souls are here to learn, and then when the learning is complete, we can release each other — with love.

Me & My Friend

My friend and I just went through this process and we have 11 line items in our new contract. I was super nervous going into our sacred contract renegotiation because I value the friendship so much, and I was so afraid the process might lead to the end of our friendship. But that’s not what happened. I feel so much gratitude for this person I love, who was willing to face the difficult process of a sacred contract renegotiation. We are on a new path. And I have so much hope for what lies ahead for us both.

What About You?

Have you ever been through a process like this? Is there a relationship in your life in need of a sacred contract renegotiation? Tell us your stories in the comments.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

102 comments

+ add your own
6:33AM PDT on Jul 15, 2015

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10:08PM PDT on Apr 5, 2015

My Name is Cercila Thompson, From United Kingdom. I wish to share my testimony with the general public about what this spiritual doctor called Dr Aigbehi has just done for me, this man has just brought back my lost Ex husband to me with his great spell, I was married to this man called Thompson we were together for a long time and we loved ourselves but when I was unable to give him a child for 2 years he left me and told me he can’t continue anymore then I was now looking for ways to get him back until I saw a testimony about this same doctor on the internet on how he has cured so many disease and help people with other similar problems, then you won’t believe this when I contacted this man on my problems he prepared this spell and in two days after he told me that he was through with the spell work my lost husband came back with more love in his eyes, and after a month I miss my month and go for a test and the result stated am pregnant am happy today am a mother of a baby Boy, he said I will also get pregnant again if I wish to. thank you once again the great doctor for what you have done for me.if you are out there searching for any of these spells or healing: (1)Spell for protection from danger (2)Spell for magic (3)Spell for same sex love (4)Spell for healing diseases (5)Spell for invisibility (6)Spell for riches and fame (7)Spell to get a good job (8)Spell for strong love and relationship (9)Spell to bring your ex back (10)Spell to become pregnant (11)Rehabili

2:11PM PST on Feb 6, 2015

i can't really believe that i am with my Ex-Husband after when he broke up with me with 4 kids i thank Dr Oyalo of (dr.oyalospellhome@gmail.com) for helping me getting back my man back, My Name is Mrs Rhona Cole i am from England and my man name is Mr Alan Cole, my happiness turn to bitterness,my joy turn to sorrow,my love turn to hate when my husband broke up with me last week,i was so frustrated and i could not know what next to do again, i was so unthinkable and i could not concentrate any more, i love my husband so much but he was cheating on me with another woman and this makes him broke up with me so that he can be able to get marry to the other lady and this lady i think cast a spell on my husband to make him hate me and my kinds and this was so critical and uncalled-for,I cry all day and night for God to send me a helped to get back my man until i went to Westmoreland to see a friend and who was having he same problem with me but she latter got her Husband back and i asked her how she was able to get her husband back and she told me that their was a powerful spell caster in Africa name DR OYALO that he help with love spell in getting back lost lover's back and i decided to contacted the same Dr Oyalo and he told me what is needed to be done for me to have my man back and i did it although i doubted it but i did it and the Dr told me that i will get the result after 24hours, and he told me that my husband was going to call me by 9pm in my time and i still doubted his w

10:42PM PST on Dec 10, 2014

My husband has abandon me and the kids for the the past 8months now, and refuse to come back because he was hold on by a woman whom he just met, for that, my self and the kids has been suffering and it has been hell of a struggle, but i decide to do all means to make sure that my family come back together as it use to,i was surfing online when i found out about kizzekpespells@outlook.com and i must confess that since i contacted Dr kizzekpe my marriage has been healed and i am once again a happy woman

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Good to know....I love cilantro and will be looking at the label to see where it's from.

i will like to try those recipes

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