Life Lessons in Improving Relationships

Vinitha Pastor's picture

I am extremely fortunate to have great people and wonderful relationships in my life. Over the course of time, I’ve definitely had to learn how to maintain those relationships effectively. There are so many self-help books and articles in magazines that give us ideas on how to have healthy relationships and it is overwhelming! Here are a few things I’ve learned.

1-    Be mindful. Our relationships tend to last longer when we are mindful of them. So what exactly does this mean? It means we need to put our phone down when we’re having a conversation with someone. It means noticing not just one what someone says verbally but also what they say with their body language and posture. It means really acknowledging and validating another person’s feelings and emotions. It means getting out of our head and not planning what we are going to say next to someone. Listen to and respond to what they are saying, not just what we think they are saying.

2-    Allow conflict to happen. No healthy relationship is conflict free. Many times, we tend to look at the relationships among others and think “Wow! They’re so perfect together! They probably never fight.” The truth is that there are conflicts in every relationship. Trying to avoid and prevent conflict is unrealistic and also pretty exhausting. So embrace the conflict. Work through it and talk about it. Just because there are disagreements and hurt feelings sometimes does not mean that the relationship is damaged or ending. As awkward and uncomfortable as it is to talk about conflict, it will allow you both to move on and probably make your relationship stronger.

3-    Don’t make assumptions. So you send your friend or significant other a text and they don’t respond within five minutes. They must be mad at you and ignoring you on purpose, right? What if their phone died? What if they were in the shower? We think that we know everything that everyone is doing and their motive behind it at any given time. And guess what? We are wrong! If there is a question about someone’s motives or thought processes, ASK! Check out thefacts. There are definitely times that assumptions are correct. But the times that we are wrong can lead to more conflict in the long run.

4-    Be your own person. While our relationships may be wonderful and fulfilling, we will never be able to fully enjoy them unless we are happy with ourselves. Figure out what is important to you and live life by your values.  Our friendships and relationships can be a value, but it’s not the only one. When we put our own self-worth in the hands of others, it usually leads to more disappointment and emptiness. If you’re having trouble figuring out what is important, then take a values questionnaire. At the end of the day, you have to look in the mirror and live with who you are as a person. Not the person that others want you to be.

I tell you these things because I have done all of them! It’s taken me a very long time to get to the place where I can not only have strong relationships with others, but also where I can be happy with myself. It’s a great feeling!