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Simple Steps For Creating The Relationship(s) You Want…(Part I)

We all know that relationships are often not easy. As a marriage and family therapist, I help my clients navigate their relationships. As mentioned in my last blog post, our relationships tend to mirror many of the things we feel about ourselves. I wrote this post to help my readers learn more about steps they can take to create the relationships in life that they want. More tips to come in Part II later this week!

  • Take Good Care Of You: All of us have our own set of unique personal needs. For some of us, this means going to a yoga class every day after work to let off steam and unwind. For others, it might mean taking a long walk with your dog to take the time needed to think about things with more clarity. I often remind my clients that if someone who is close to you asks you to do something (and your gut tells you that it is okay to follow through with that request)this is just fine. Relationships are a give and take. Just make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well, and getting your needs met. It’s important to try to balance your self-interest and the sacrifices that you make for others on a daily basis. Try to feel as whole and complete as possible in your relationships, so that you don’t feel the need to look to others to complete you.
  • Try To See The Best In People: In our current mechanized and urbanized fast-paced world, we are constantly tempted to doubt the integrity of those around us. It might feel natural to assume that your close friend meant to hurt your feelings by not inviting you to a party, or a family member meant to make you feel insecure by making a snarky remark at the dinner table. Try to remember that most people who truly care about you would like you to feel happy and secure. Sometimes these people (friends/family/partners) are too focused on their own lives and challenges to make you feel this way. It’s true…people who love you indeed can be cruel at different times. If you take a step back, you might notice that this happens when they are in a bad place in their lives, and don’t know where to put this displaced pain/anger/hurt that they are processing. Try to see the best in those around you.
  • Try Not To Play The Blame Game: When we feel unhappy, often our first instinct is to look around and blame someone else. Unfortunately, this rarely serves as a solution to improve your feelings. The next time you feel that automatic reflex to blame someone else for your negative feelings, take a step back and a moment to reflect if there is something else at play. You may find that something exists which you should have done for yourself. Try to take responsibility (when appropriate) for the problem and you might find you have the power already within your reach to craft a solution.
  • Avoid Defensiveness: As discussed in my earlier blog post on defensiveness, as human beings our natural instinct (when we percieve a threat) is to defend ourselves. Many of my couples therapy clients tell me that they often engage in loud, intense arguments where both take the role of litigator…trying to prove each other wrong. Try to remember that it’s not about right and wrong or black and white…but rather it’s about actively listening to each other and learning more about both points of view. I find that in our relationships, when we come from an empathic and compassionate place, there is a greater chance of a positive outcome. Show the other person that you understand where he/she is coming from. This gives both of you a chance to be heard and feel respected, even though differences may exist.

 

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