“To enhance the quality of your relationships, imagine this is your last day on earth with whomever you are with.”
– Og Mandino
April brings us to the 4th section in the Circle of Life Coaching Program – Relationships
Through our relationships we have the opportunity to develop our most virtuous qualities :
- unconditional love
Our relationships are our greatest teachers and our most revealing mirrors. The giving and receiving of genuine love and caring are the most sacred and powerful human capacities.
Love is the hidden foundation of numerous personal strengths:
- the capacity to give and receive respect
- motivation to be of service
- the power and strength to fulfill our life purpose
In this section, we look at things like communication, conflict resolution, family and parenting. Evaluating the quality of your relationships can help you identify if they are draining, damaging or abusive as opposed to healthy, honest, loving and supportive.
How am I taking care of myself in regard to relationships?
Knowing that Self-Care is at the center of any well-balanced life and that it is directing and managing your health and wellness, this section on relationships is designed to heighten your awareness of how you are (or are not) taking care of yourself in this aspect of your life. Below are some Self-Care suggestions to get you started:
- Create balanced, satisfying, supportive and healthy relationships at work and in your personal life.
- Be true to yourself and create healthy boundaries when necessary
- Develop and improve communication and other relationship skills to improve your relationships.
Power of Social Relationships
In an issue of The Science Journal, 62 studies were cited showing that supportive social relationships had a positive effect on recovery from surgery, chronic illness and infectious diseases. Social connection was also shown to have a positive effect on cardiovascular activity and immune function. Research proves that humans live healthier, longer, happier lives when spending quality time in a safe environment, connecting in a meaningful way with others.
The Impact of Communication on Relationships
Complicated relationships stressed with poor communication and unresolved feelings are a tremendous drain on health, productivity and inner peace. Relationships that are balanced through high levels of compassion, respect, good communication and constructive conflict resolution skills are uplifting. They can provide the structure for healing, innovation, creativity, happiness and prosperity. However, relationships are a continual growth process and to fully enjoy them, we need skills, information, inspiration, practice and support.
The key to any healthy relationship is good communication but we are not necessarily taught these skills growing up. Some of us were raised in families with little or no healthy communication. Many couples get married after a short time dating and never realize there were communication red flags or issues until several years into the union. In some cases, one of the parties in a relationship may just “shut down” during a conflict where another may jump into an agitated state out of sheer habit or old patterns. It is critical to pinpoint where and how the communication is breaking down in order to move forward and build healthy communication and joyous, loving relationships with our spouses, partners, parents, children, co-workers and friends.
Communication Skills – “The Three C’s” – by Delia Horowitz
- COMMUNICATE : Communication is a two-way action. It involves telling YOUR truth and listening to THEIR truth. This assumes that there is no one truth, there are only individual perceptions. Remain in the present and be direct when communicating. Share your feelings as well as your thoughts. The key is to make the person aware without making them wrong. Repeat back what you believe you are hearing and check the accuracy of your understanding by asking them to fill in the details that you may have missed. Check again to see if you are understanding their point before you communicate your next point. Avoid, “ya, but….” as a response as this automatically says, “I disagree with what you just said.”
- COMMON GOAL: Maintain a cooperative attitude and intention to agree on a desired end result or a broad common goal. Achieving the goal then becomes the focus rather than getting your own way. Identify the reasons behind positions, and search for common wants and needs.
- COLLABORATION: Be flexible and willing to move off your position in order to reach the goal. Collaboration is a result of discovering what you can agree with rather than focusing on the differences. Since there can be more than one approach to any situation, focus on achieving the goal by including elements of each person’s approach that are acceptable to both of you.
Ways to Discharge When in Conflict
Sometimes in the heat of an argument or conflict, it is difficult to keep our cool, or think or react in a calm way. The emotional charge we are feeling can stem from a feeling of being attacked, from deep emotional pain that the issue at hand stirs up, or from our hell-bent need to be heard or to be right. No matter what the stimulus, it is critical to conflict resolution to take steps to discharge before we try to proceed.
- Sometimes during an argument, we are only concerned with our own view of things – try to step back and take a wider view of the situation. Putting ourselves in the other’s shoes is a powerful way to shift our rigidity. Try to let things flow through in the conversation, rather getting stuck on one point or one issue. Above all, take a break and discharge if you are consumed with negative feelings like frustration, hurt, anger, or mistrust.
There are many way to do this and here are a few broken into different catagories:
- Take slow deep breaths
- Put your fingertips on your forehead one-half way between your eyebrows and your hair line. This helps blood return to your more rational front brain.
- Use your hands or arms. Hit a punching bag or pillow
- Use your feet or legs. Kick a ball or the air. Jump up and down.
- Use your ears. Listen to soothing music.
- Take a warm bath or have a hot, non-alcoholic beverage.
- Interrups your usual physical pattern. Do something different.
- Walk barefoot on the earth.
- Stand in the sun.
- Cry or yell
- Express how you are feeling mentally, out loud to yourself, to a mirror, to a friend or in a journal
- Identify what words or phrases you are thinking or hearing in your mind and remind yourself they are not necessarily true.
- Think calming thoughts like “First I’ll calm down, then I’ll know what to do.” or “I know it feels like life or death, but it’s really not.”
- Use mental imagery. Imagine yourself in a safe place with safe people. Imagine the situation being resolved in a peaceful, win-win way.
- Change the subject
and my favorite way….Spiritual
- Imagine flooding yourself, the other person, or the situation with white light
- Send forgiveness, unconditional love or compassion
- Remind yourself of the oneness of humanity and of your connection with this person
- Look for the gift or the blessing this person or situation is offering you
- Express gratitude for this experience
- Take quiet time alone to re-center
Remember often times, we take another’s words or actions personally, when in reality, they are being prompted by their own fears and concerns and it may have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Sometimes we are being triggered in the midst of an argument by old emotional baggage. Be aware if the situation has stimulated old memories and re-focus in present time.
Anytime you find yourself in an argument, pause and ask yourself, “Why am I getting emotionally charged here? How can I calm down and come from a place of love, acceptance and compassion? What is my role in this conflict and how can I become part of the solution?” These are very simple questions but they hold IMMENSE power when it comes to developing a healthy part of a relationship and especially diffusing an argumentative situation with a loved one or co-worker. You will find it is an empowering feeling to assume a position of emotional detachment when these situations arise. Understand there is a difference between being passive or uncaring and detaching emotionally to more intelligently solve an issue. Detaching from your personal agenda regarding any given situation, helps you to see both sides and move towards a solution. Rather than feeling like a victim, you move beyond your need to be right and transcend your ego. Most times, whomever you are dealing with will feel that shift in your energy and almost always respond favorably.
In conclusion, healthy and supportive relationships enrich our lives exponentially. We are all capable of creating relationships that serve our highest good, and at the same time, allow us to be of service to others. If you are currently experiencing a relationship that is troublesome, try using some of the techniques outlined above. The most powerful way to effect change in your world is the way you feel, so focus on self-care and get to a place where you are feeling fulfilled, cared for, loved, energized, optimistic, empowered and peaceful. You cannot attract healthy, loving, supportive relationships until you become whole and healthy.
Alyssa is available for one-on-one relationship coaching. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.