Humans as a species contemplate and pursue happiness. Research has identified healthy relationships as an important part of experiencing a sense of joyful living. Creating and channeling energy toward developing and nurturing healthy relationships is vital to creating a meaningful life. Oftentimes, people do not have a template to work from. Their family life and relationships outside of one’s kin may have not been good models to create and sustain enjoyable relationships.
A few tips will be provided to assist individuals in creating a map toward creating and sustaining healthy relationships.
1. List what you want from your relationships. Make a list of the people who are most important to you and write a few statements next to each name about how you would like to interact with the person. If there is a difficult relationship with someone that you deeply care about and you would like to mend or improve, imagine how a peaceful relationship with that person would look like.
2. Be supportive of others in your life. Ask yourself, “Who can I support and/or encourage today, and in what way? The support and encouragement can come in various forms. Support that is consistent and frequent nourishes closeness and connection.
3. Demonstrate love. A core and fundamental human need is to be accepted and loved. Show the people in your life that they are loved and accepted by you. According to Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, you can express love by giving words of affirmation, performing acts of service, giving gifts, spending quality time and, of course, providing physical touch.
4. Don’t take things personally. What people do is a reflection of who they are because of their own perspective on life. It is a “projection of their own perception of reality” according to Miguel Ruiz. This is one of the agreements from his book, The Four Agreements. He explains that “when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” You will respond better in your communications with others, too. When you don’t take things personally, you diffuse negativity.
5. Don’t make assumptions. A common human error is to make assumptions. When narratives in our lives are ambiguous, we want understanding and clarity. When we do not have the answers, we create assumptions to bridge the gaps in the stories of our lives. Creating assumptions is problematic for many reasons. One is that our assumptions are usually incorrect. In addition, if we operate from inaccurate assumptions, we are likely to create misunderstandings and suffering as a result. Instead, communicate clearly. Ask questions and vocalize your needs.
6. Be constructive. What is your interaction like with the people in your relationships? Are you engaging in positive, healthy and prosocial communication and behaviors with the important people in your life? Are you being the type of person someone would want to surround themselves around?
7. Give sincere praise. Notice when someone is doing something positive, and let them know you have. This will strengthen the bonds between you. A wonderful daily practice is to make the commitment to giving everyone you interact with a sincere compliment. Sincerity is important. People will sense if you are just faking it, and that will do more harm than good. It is helpful for others to be recognized for their kind deeds.
8. Be understanding. It is important to seek common ground with others. It allows people to stay connected even if they disagree. “Seek first to understand; then seek to be understood” is one of the habits from Stephen Covey’s best-selling personal development book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the context of relationships, this habit of being understanding can be helpful in many ways such as putting the other person first; learning about their interests and plans; and when in disagreement, finding out their side of things.
9. Be a good listener. When we are good listeners, we are sending the message to our loved ones that we care about them. We are letting them know that what they have to say, believe and feel is important. Practice active listening skills such as being fully present and focused on what the other person is saying rather than thinking ahead about the response you will give when it’s your turn to speak; not interrupting; asking clarifying questions to avoid misunderstanding; paraphrasing to show understanding; and being aware of your body language and how it shows you’re listening.
10. Give first. Having a balanced approach to relationships is key and wanting to make a contribution is a way of maintaining that balance. When you give first, the other person feels cared for and even cherished. Ask what you can give first to your friends, family and professional colleagues.
11. Express gratitude. Tell others what you appreciate about them and/or about what they have done for you.
12. Accept & give no abuse. Are all of your relationships healthy? Where might you need to place boundaries? Where might you be using someone else in unhealthy ways, judging someone else too harshly, putting conditions on a relationship, etc? Where might another person be doing this to you? Miguel Ruiz says in his book, The Mastery of Love, “The limit of your self-abuse is the limit you will tolerate from other people. If someone is abusive and does not respond to the boundaries you place, you may need to walk away from that relationship.
Remember: Some people come into your life for a reason, season or lifetime. Which person do you want to be.
Source: Angela Loëb
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Rancho Santa Fe 92067 area.