Wed | Jan 29, 2020

I can't take it anymore

Published:Sunday | October 23, 2016 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

Sometimes in life, we get to the point where we feel as if we are at the end of our rope. If we get to that stage, what can we do?

Take action


It is useful to start by accepting the fact that there is a problem and that inaction is not going to bring about a resolution.


There is a tendency for individuals to continue from one frustrating encounter to another. Sometimes while the conflict is not openly displayed, the parties experience a level of discomfort and frustration in the exchanges.

Left unattended, these relationships become psychologically toxic and adds stress. The conflict spills over to infect others, who become outlets for the parties. Do not continue under this cloud. It impacts morale and sucks the energy out of the group.




A critical issue must be the need to reflect on the importance of the relationship. Is there some compelling reason why you should invest in normalising this relationship?

If there are no benefits, responsibilities, requirements or permanent ties, then there may be little motivation to work on improving the relationship. However, if there are important reasons for the linkage, then it really makes sense to focus on what the connection means.

If the ties are familial, would achieving peace and harmony in what should be your place of refuge not be worth the effort? I feel distressed at the plight of couples who continue to live in a cold war year after year.

I am also concerned about the slew of employees who wake up each day to face another series of unpleasant interactions with their supervisors. Often, entire teams are trapped in a recurring cycle of debilitating encounters.


Dig deeper


Improvements in relationships are best achieved by pushing to identify the root causes of the problem.

The challenge is that if the situation has been allowed to deteriorate over time, virtually every encounter produces some level of discontent. You enter the dialogue expecting problems, and that mood prevails.

May I invite you to step back and recall the last unpleasant encounter? Do your best to put aside the personalities. Solely on the basis of the content, what did you find upsetting?

On introspection, without the history, was that really all that disturbing?

If it was, then the next step is to identify what about it was so upsetting.

Relationships are two-way streets. Both parties contribute to the unhealthy state of affairs. Progress can only come from introspection and adjustment on both sides.




A major factor in the breakdown of relationships is the battle of wills. Ongoing conflict arises from the fact that one party is peeved at being pushed to accept a course of action. Alternatively, there is frustration with the failure of the other party to comply.

Battles of will are challenging to resolve without an appeal to a greater good - a bigger picture. The parties need to be motivated to buy into a way forward that might not fully embrace how they would like to operate.

Micromanaging supervisors and nagging spouses are primary targets for a fundamental review of their approach. They need to have honest introspection and reach out for resolution.


The Bombshell


Micromanagers, naggers and dominant personalities do not easily relinquish their roles. If you are on the receiving end and the linkage is important, you might be faced with making a unilateral adjustment. You might be best served by adopting a mindset that accommodates the situation. That means accepting the reality and deciding not to allow yourself to be frustrated by the interaction. This is your thorn in the flesh and you learn to live with it in the context of the linkage.

You will be surprised at how much you can effectively tolerate once you decide to work with the situation.

Join the next cohort of the ICF accredited 'Certified Behavioural Coach Award''. Make a difference - be a catalyst for behaviour modification. Email: info[at] to get on board.

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy.