For Healthy Relationships | The Girl Who Wore Freedom

This is part 1 of 3 in a series titled Avoid the 5 Rs by guest author Peggy Sue Wells.

When you’re done, be sure to check out Part 2: Fact Versus Fiction (out now) and part 3 when it is published!


The Girl Who Wore Freedom is the powerful story of heroes who secured freedom from conflict for France. Why does conflict between business associates, co-workers, loved ones, neighbors, community members, political parties, and world governments escalate?

A man and a woman sitting on a dock over some water. They're facing each other and talking.As families, co-workers, and fellow inhabitants of planet Earth, we have gotten really, really good at being in the 5 Rs. The process goes like this:

  1. Something happens or is said, done, or not done, that results in me feeling rejected.
  2. Rejection feels lousy, so I become resentful about feeling rejected.
  3. In my resentment, I resist relationship with the person I feel resentful toward.
  4. Resistance becomes action when it leads to revenge. Revenge is the desire that you feel the same pain I felt so you know what it feels like.
  5. Repeat. Unresolved, this cycle is easy — even automatic — to repeat until a relationship is damaged beyond repair. 

The 5 Rs are characteristic of families that come together over holidays to emotionally abuse one another and have pie. Family members and long-term business associates are particularly good at repeating this scenario because we have a longer history together that has allowed us to practice this cycle ad nauseam. The cycle becomes automatic. Expected. And people unthinkingly play their parts.

Recognizing and replacing the 5 Rs is vital in our personal and business relationships because how we function in one area is how we function in all areas of our life. 

Practice Makes Permanent

Aware of the active presence of the 5 Rs in my life, what can I do to interrupt this destructive pattern?

Two hands close but not touching1. Resentment: any negative emotional reaction to what I think was said or done. A signal that I’m in resentment is drama words in my vocabulary: should, need, perfect. (“She should …” “He needs …” “I’m not perfect but …”) I’m stuck in resentment when I’m stuck in drama.

Solution: Gratitude. “I’m thankful she …” “I’m grateful he …” “What fun to …”

2. Resistance: putting up walls, cutting off communication, being shut down emotionally and relationally around someone. I’m in resistance when not making eye contact and giving the silent treatment.

Solution: Engage. Make eye contact, have conversations. Get clear by saying, “The story I’m making up in my head about … is …”

3. Revenge: the attempt to get even. Revenge is taking advantage of, or setting up, an opportunity so another can feel the rejection I felt. A symptom that I’m in revenge is when I want another to feel hurt. Saying something like, “Now he will know how it feels,” or “Serves her right,” or “Karma is a bitch,” shows I’m in revenge.

Solution: Generosity. Extend generosity to break the destructive cycle of revenge. Does the person deserve generosity? Probably not. That’s why it’s called grace. Practice grace at the same level we want others to give grace to us.

Often the person who hurt you or me is not safe to be in relationship with. An abusive spouse, the business partner who stole from you, or the attorney in both instances who is out for your juggler is unsafe. In such situations be generous elsewhere but be generous. The alternative is to become bitter. Trust me on this.

4. Repeat. A toxic pattern is to believe that because I’m hurt, I have the right to be unkind and hurtful. Then I hurt you and you hurt me and I am offended and you are offended and in our offense we dive deeply into the 5 Rs.

Solution: Release others from your expectations of how they should act or behave.

You can be a hero and secure freedom from conflict. Bring liberty from the 5 Rs to your relationships.

For You

PeggySue’s favorite key lime pie recipe from Kermit’s in Key West:

Blend 2 14-ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk, 6 egg yolks and 1/2-cup limejuice. Pour into a 9-inch graham cracker piecrust. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

The Single Most Positive Step Toward Positive Change

Click here for a list of healthy conversations topics.


Be sure to check out Part 2: Fact Versus Fiction (out now) and part 3 when it is published!

This post was authored by:

Peggy Sue Wells, guest blogger of The Girl Who Wore FreedomPeggy Sue Wells

Guest author

PeggySue Wells is the author of 28 books including Homeless for the Holidays and Chasing Sunrise. Connect with her at, on Facebook at PeggySue Wells, Twitter @PeggySueWells.

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