Column: Polishing our relationships enhances our own strengths

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 2004

By David Larson, Licensed psychologist

When I was a boy, a friend of mine had a rock-polishing machine. I always wanted one of those. I thought it was so cool how he would put dull rocks with rough edges into the container, let them tumble together for a period of time and out would come smooth, shiny, pretty rocks. By rubbing the rocks together again and again and again, the rough edges of each rock smoothed out the rough edges of the others.

I later learned that this is what relationships are for. Many people think that when there’s conflict in a relationship, the relationship is bad. If you’re like me, you may forget that the beauty in each one of us comes out with radiance when we wear each other’s exteriors away to expose the magnificent ones we are inside. We need to bump up against each other’s hangups, prejudices, and worn out opinions to reveal our strengths. My rough edges smooth out yours, and yours smooth out mine.

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I used to get irritated waiting for people. Over time, I came to see the time of waiting was an opportunity to take a break, relax, breathe, and appreciate nature or the activities going on around me. Now there are times when I actually hope people will be a little late, and accept such as a gift of grace that allows me to slow down and enjoy the reduced pace of life for a few minutes.

When I can let go of my compulsivity around time, I end up being easier to live with as well. I get reacquainted a bit with compassion, understanding

and forgiveness.

My ability to accept others in their imperfections helps me accept my own.

Sometimes, if I am frustrated, I may choose to speak my feelings to the other person. This may help me practice being assertive, or gain a new perspective, or help them break a plaguing habit.

Everyone comes out better. Talk about win-win. That’s rock-polishing for you.

So when there is tension in a relationship important to you, whether it is in your family, your workplace, or in your community, look for how this conflict may be tugging to pull out the best in you. There is always something to learn in each interaction, no matter how it feels … and when it feels the worst is when there is the most to learn.

Our egos would have us believe that we are always right and others should conform to us. However, if we don’t let others smooth out our rough edges (help us change), our most magnificent beauty, and the peace that comes with it, will remain obscured.

Take time to surrender, and let the beauty come forth.

(David Larson is a Licensed Psychologist and Personal Life Coach.

He can be reached at the Institute for Wellness at 507-373-7913 or at his website,