Three Secrets to Strengthening Your Relationships
Is there a secret to building and strengthening your relationships? Whether it’s because of the pressure of a hard day, a bad situation, or even for no apparent reason at all, you can often push the people you care about away with your attitude. There’s a direct link between your emotional health and your relationship wellness, so how do you nurture your relationships? You look after your own wellbeing. That is not to say that you look out for number one; rather, you need to create a fertile ground for self-care, which will provide the building blocks for your important relationships.
Firstly, be authentic and real. You need to speak your truth, albeit without being hurtful to another person. In the words of Ambrose Bierce, ‘Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.’ Before being honest with someone, take a few deep breaths to feel calm and clear so that you will speak with greater thought and care, regardless of the message to be delivered. If you have a problem in your relationship, use a “kindness sandwich” to deliver your message – beginning and ending with something positive, but expressing the problem in between. For example, ‘I love hanging out with you. I would really appreciate it if you didn’t cancel at the last-minute. I think that would help both of us to feel less stressed.’
Next, be compassionate to yourself so that you can then be compassionate towards other. You’re always the hardest on yourself, but the overflow of your negativity can affect others too. If your child or a loved one made a mistake or fell short of expectations, would you be this hard on them? Of course not, so cut yourself some slack! Recognise who you really are, including strengths. No one is perfect, so if you are doing the best that you can, be kind to yourself. This has a way of being contagious, and opens space for others to do the same.
Finally, cultivate a disposition of curiosity and openness, rather than judgement. Judgment and criticism can be toxic to any relationship, and it is much more compelling and informative to listen carefully when someone is speaking to you. If you know your friend well, you might assume you know what he or she is going to say. However, if you remain open to the possibilities, you may find yourself surprised by the outcome.