Christian Blog and Online Women's Ministry in South Africa - Cup of Faith

Renovate Your Relationships Review

I used to pride myself on being a people pleaser but over the last 2 years, I have gone from working for myself and managing a handful of clients, to working for a global agency and personally managing the accounts of more than 70 brands worldwide. While the challenge is something I live for, learning to set boundaries has been one of my biggest lessons and one that I am still learning. The problem is that because I come from a small home-grown agency, I have always made myself 100% accessible. This was easy to maintain early on, but it’s not something I can scale unless you have a clever trick for creating copies of myself, in which case, this would be a whole different blog on its own. Trying to maintain being fully accessible and not burn out, when I manage this many client accounts is a dangerous juggle and one that has caused me to fall on my face a few times.

I was recently chatting to my company director and he noted a change in my mannerism. He said he liked that my job was pushing me to grow in new ways, something that I like about my role too. Up until then, I hadn’t realised it, but the book that I had been reading had had a profound impact on the new challenges I was working through at work. You see, at the time, we had taken on 20+ new clients in less than a week – this was a record for our agency and something to be proud of it, but right up front was me, trying to cope with getting 20+ lost sheep back home while not neglecting my own mental health and the need to breathe.

Enter, Renovate Your Relationships by Scott Vaudrey, MD, MA.

Doctor-turned-pastor Scott Vaudrey shows readers how to have stronger, more meaningful relationships by mastering the balance between building bridges and setting boundaries.

We all have people in our lives who are difficult–a demanding boss, an annoying neighbor, a manipulative family member, or a controlling spouse. When you reach a point where something must change in that troubling relationship, how do you narrow the gap between where things are and where you want them to be?

In Renovate Your Relationships, Scott Vaudrey draws on his experience as both an emergency-room physician and a pastor to reveal how we can diagnose the problems in our specific relationships and then master the balance between building bridges toward people and setting boundaries with them. Using real-life stories, illuminating dialogues, and ground-breaking practical tools, he unearths the root cause of our relational breakdowns and helps us make changes that enable us to move forward with a new, more productive pattern of relating.

I struggle to set boundaries. There, I said it. I will rather be uncomfortable and unhappy than risk offending someone by speaking up. According to Scott Vaudrey’s book Renovate Your Relationships, I am an acceptor, someone who is often over accepting of other people, slow to defend or advocate for myself, quick to avoid conflict and guilty of putting up with mistreatment from others. In a way, that description makes me feel like I am weak or even quick to play the victim, but through his book, I have learnt that there are times I need to be more accepting by building bridges, and other times where I need to push myself outside my comfort zone and be more of a protector by setting boundaries.

I feel like this is a book that can benefit anyone. It has transformed the way I deal with my colleagues, family members and even my marriage. It has nuggets of wisdom and often, I felt like I needed to step away to fully process what I had just read. I especially loved that Scott tied in a lot of personal retellings, which made what felt like complex reading material more relatable. One such instance is him sharing about his colleague who hated change and as someone who embraces change freely, Scott would get frustrated whenever his colleague wouldn’t jump straight on board with his new idea. Until eventually, Scott reversed the role and thought how difficult it must be for his colleague to constantly have to put up with his need to change and update their systems. This simple story has forced me to relook at a personal issue which has formed a pattern in my life and see it from the other person’s perspective. I tend to be the sort that rolls with the punches, while someone I know is more cautious and asks 10 billion questions before we can take the first step. It drives me mad. I feel like it slows us down and stops us from enjoying our projects, and it often ends in us butting heads and having a disagreement. Truth be told, taking a step back to think like this, made me realise that this was an opportunity to build a bridge and not make a big deal out of it each time because I realised that all the questions were valid and helped ensure quality.

Knowing when to build a bridge and when to set a boundary is something that I feel we all know we need to learn, but don’t necessarily have the tools or resources to do so. Scott emphasises that it’s not about changing acceptors into protectors and protectors into acceptors, but rather learning how much accepting and protecting is required each time. Yup, that’s right, there’s no perfect recipe that can be applied to every situation; sometimes, it takes more accepting than protecting and in other cases, it takes a bit more protecting than accepting. Of course, knowing when is one part of the problem, but knowing how is an entirely new thing!

Do not fear though, Renovate Your Relationships guides you through the process of having uncomfortable conversations and working through accepting or protecting, even over the things you may feel are “just the way things are”. In his book, Scott talks about his wife and mentions how she can often be late for things (wow, my husband is the same) and how he usually protects himself by shutting down and being annoyed because he feels like she doesn’t care about their time together but that when he decided to talk to her about it, they were both able to build a bridge together. This was such an impactful example because I often feel like it’s just our wiring and not something we can control, like I tend to just accept someone’s inability to be on time (while complaining about it later, in the company of my husband hahahaha) but learning to say, “Hey, I am disappointed by this because it feels like you don’t respect me or x, y and z” opens the opportunity to discuss what is upsetting you and then gives you the option to build a bridge and accept it, or set boundaries to protect yourself from having the same experience.

Throughout the book, Scott uses helpful diagrams that paint clear pictures in understanding how to navigate setting boundaries and building bridges. In my experience, I find it easier to recall a visual image than someone’s words – especially something that I feel isn’t in my second nature, and as I have already expressed, boundaries are definitely not mine. While I feel this is definitely a book I will benefit from re-reading several times, I like that the visual diagrams help me process and revisit certain topics with ease.

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough – ESPECIALLY if you work with people, are in charge of a team or manage several clients. I have found the lessons in this book to be invaluable! I am not exaggerating when I say it has helped transform relationships and has shaken me out of the same toxic or dangerous patterns I tend to notice in my life, whether professionally or personally.

You can get yours from CUM Books, Raru and other leading book stores.

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