1. Get Rid of “Right and Wrong” Mentality
Right and wrong mentality is about power. Healthy relationships are about each person seeing the other’s perspectives, being able to agree or disagree, and doing it all without engaging in a power battle. Each person in a relationship has different belief systems. If we keep finding a solution as the goal, and get rid of figuring out who’s right and wrong, we keep our minds open to creativity. We have reasons for making the choices we do. In order to communicate with compassion and make choices from a loving place, we have to stay open to other perspectives. When we do this, we engage in wonderful relationships with all kinds of new and interesting people. Choosing to see our beliefs as just one of many perspectives, improves our life and all our relationships.
2. Find the Good
We prepare our defenses when someone’s actions trigger a vulnerable spot in us. We tune them out as we formulate our counter-attack. Stop at that moment and consider:
- Why are you in a relationship with this person in the first place?
- What do you like about him/her?
- What are some of their better qualities?
When we focus on the love, respect, or interest we have in the person, communication get easier and solutions are apparent without any emotional or physical harm to each other.
3. Ask Questions
Too often arguments start because we make assumptions without asking enough questions. We assume we know where the other person is coming from. For the health of our relationship, we need to ask:
- “How did that (situations, look, tone) make you feel?”
- “Am I understanding this/you correctly?”
- “What did you mean when you said_______?”
- “How do you think we can make this better?”
- “Did I say something that is causing some confusion?”
Continue to ask questions until you reach an understanding. It shows the other person that you are willing to hear them. When we value a relationship, we need to invest in peaceful resolutions. We all have our own stories. Our responsibility is to make sure we are looking at the person in front of us, and not the ones from our past.
4. Listen Carefully
The truth is in the details. People who are not hurting do not hurt others. If someone is calling you or someone else a name, imagine they are calling themselves that name. When people are giving others fear, hate, and/or anger, those feelings are circulating inside them. People who feel worthy don’t attack others. Try to see them with compassion and not your ego. The ego makes the situation about you. When we truly listen, we get to the heart of the problem. From there, solutions are uncovered.
5. Give Space to Respond
Healthy relationships are about responding, not reacting when we are having trouble communicating. Sometimes we say the first thing on our mind and risk of hurting an important relationship. If we take three deep breaths, we may gain a little perspective on the situation. Other times we need to walk away before we respond in order to process the information. Either way, take the space you need to choose the best response. Keep the goals of your relationship in mind. If you are looking for a loving, compassionate, productive, and/or effective relationship, make sure your response is contributes to that.
6. Take Your Power Back
Why are you reacting with anger, fear, and hurt? Why do you choose to give the person you are with the power to stir up these feelings inside you? Many times we are reacting to past hurts that can be traced all the way back to childhood. Our negative reactions to the current situation are opportunities to heal the past. When we take our power back and investigate where these hurt feelings came from, we can release a lot of pain that is only hurting our current relationships. Empower yourself by knowing your feelings and actions are your choice. You can change them by gaining a little perspective about why what is happening is making you feel the way it does. What other way can you look at the current situation to strengthen your own personal power?
7. Investigate Your Belief Systems
We all come with the baggage of belief systems. Some are useful, but others are destructive. It is our job to investigate them and see they are helping or hurting our relationships. Are the following “truths” for you:
- Relationships are hard work! Are they? Do they have to be? Are we making them that way?
- Men should/Women should/Children should/Bosses should/Co-workers should… Do we shove people into categories of what we think they should and shouldn’t do or be? Is this hurting our current relationships?
- I don’t like being told what to do! Does this create issues when dealing with colleagues, teachers, friends, intimate partners, and/or family?
- What I say goes! This is a power play. Is this what you are looking for in your relationships?
8. Find Peace Within
If we don’t know what it feels like to be peaceful inside, we won’t be able to have it in our relationships. Internal chaos comes from unhealed shame and guilt from the past. By facing the darkest parts of ourselves and forgiving all that needs to be forgiven, we create peace within. Our relationships improve and people who were attracted to our chaos will fall away. When we find peace within we present with the people in our lives. We can talk to them with love and compassion, without our past getting in our way. When we get triggered, our peace within slows us down to respond appropriately.
9. Love Yourself More
We demonstrate how we want to be treated by the way we treat ourselves. We allow others to walk on us if we lay down in front of them. When we love ourselves, we don’t do that. We stand as equals. If we want respect, we have to show ourselves respect. If we want love, we have to give it to ourselves. This is not selfish. We can only truly give what we have inside. When we don’t care for ourselves first we take on martyr and victim roles. We will get physically and emotionally ill. How does that better ANY relationship? Learn to say, “I love you, but I love me more.” All your relationships benefit from treating yourself with the love and respect that you deserve.
10. Stop Taking Things Personally
What they do and say is their stuff. How we react or respond is ours. When we make it about us, that’s when we are being self-involved. We only hurt people when we are wounded. If someone raises their voice, says hurtful things, or even uses physical violence, it comes from an internal battle inside. Knowing it is not about us, we can respond in the most compassionate way possible. Does this mean we should ever accept any form of verbal, emotional, and or physical abuse? No, but you will if you don’t reconcile your own beliefs, forgive, and love yourself more.
11. Respect Each Other’s Differences
We are all different and have wonderful contributions to give to the world. But if we think we know a better way to live someone else’s life, we are hurting everyone. We are telling the person that we don’t respect them enough to let them live their life. We miss great opportunities to express love, compassion, and acceptance. The world needs people to be different to survive. We all have strengths and diverse paths. If we want to improve our relationships, we need to focus on what we can do, how we can work together and what will make us stronger. We all learn what we are meant to learn. We will all experience lessons to make us the person we want to become. It’s great to share your experiences, strength, and hope. Just don’t expect others to do anything with them. If it feels right to their journey, they will act on those ideas. If it doesn’t, they won’t. It’s just that simple. When we respect each other we don’t have to take each other’s actions personally. We can love and accept the person for who they are, instead of who we want them to be.
With Love and Gratitude,