Life is all about relationships – with our partners, parents, children, peers, neighbors and everyone else around us. Relationships can be rewarding and challenging as we bring our “self” to join with someone else’s “self.” That connection is the core and is often based in our own childhood and adolescence, as we model what we saw in relationships around us. Often words and behaviors are the surface of what we really want to say and do – we may not know another way to present ourselves because we never learned alternate ways to relate to others. A basic and major issue that often underlies interactions is concern about security in a relationship – translation: “I need to know you’ll be there when I really need you.”
Everyone needs validation – via compassion, empathy, comfort, kindness, etc. Problem solving isn’t always the necessary path as many believe. Relationships require connectedness grounded in safety. Misunderstandings and hurt lead to anger and resentment. Resentment fills up the relationship leaving little space open for connection – including intimacy. Speaking to others from a place of coming together as opposed to a place of complaining, strengthens relationships. Reframing words and thoughts to consider “what can I do to better the situation?” is more productive than blaming. This facilitates joining together and reduces feelings of rejection.
Other relationship remedies worth trying are:
Pick your battles – is the issue worth arguing about AND could you be over reacting….
Stay in the here and now – be emotionally present AND stick to the immediate issue on the table
Keep in mind that needs and expectations vary from person to person – we are all unique
Encourage freedom in communication by laying the groundwork for trust and safety
Begin responses with validations – simply reflect back what you heard the other person say – no need to agree – just acknowledge they were heard accurately
State your needs clearly and specifically – respectfully and honestly; accept that no one can read your mind
If you truly reach an impasse, agree to disagree and table the discussion for another time when reflection and calmer emotions may allow for greater compromise
Be generous with your compliments and stingy with your criticisms
Healthy relationships are about treating others with kindness and respect. This applies to our partners, our children, our parents, and everyone else. Remarkably, it eliminates any need to keep score of who did what and who owes who when we are all on the same team. In closing - I wish you and yours the willingness and courage to come together. Finally, I invite you to phone or email me should you or someone you know need some extra support in making life more manageable.
Debbie Bauer, LMFT
~easing life’s journey~