Relationships make the world go around. Relationships can bring joy and add significance in our lives. It is no wonder that we find ourselves preoccupied with pursuing, maintaining, ending, and recovering from the loss of relationships. While each of these stages of a relationship can be difficult and challenging, it is when relationships end that we struggle the most.
Whatever your age and experience, a relationship can be challenging. Being able to handle conflict and deal with differences is important in maintaining healthy relationships. Everyone who is in a relationship may need assistance at some point to help them deal with the dynamics.
All relationships, even with friends, co-workers and partners experience problems in one form or another. This is part of sharing your life and time with other human beings. The difference between a healthy relationship that works, and those that don't, is how well you deal with the challenges and problems we face in this life together.
If you want to have a really healthy relationship, consider some simple guidelines that have worked for me. You’ve heard these all before. They are basic principles we learned as children.
· Do not expect anyone to be responsible for your happiness. Don’t blame others for making you feel a certain way. If you blame everyone else, you’ve given up on yourself from the get go. Make yourself happy first, and then share your happiness.
· Appreciate yourself, others and everything around you. During an argument, it can be difficult to find something to appreciate. Make it a practice to say thank you often. That way it’ll be easier for you to do in stressful times. Use this: “I appreciate what you’re saying but I don’t want to argue. I want to talk and make this better”.
· Learn to be forgiving. Forgiveness is a process of ending your anger or resentment. It can have the power to transcend all offenses, great and small, and learning to forgive another takes patience, honesty, and respect. When sincerely given, forgiveness can heal. Forgiveness is an act of humility, not taking the higher ground. This is one of the core concepts of Kaizen in Lean Process Improvement. Humility worked for Toyota and it can work for you.
· Be Responsible. Responsible means that you have the ability to respond. It does not mean you are to blame. If you've been rude, own up to it, and try to think of ways how you might do it differently next time. If you are unhappy in your relationship, make an effort to learn how you might create a better relationship for yourself rather than try to change the person. We all know that we can only change ourselves.
· A relationship is a learning experience. Every person you meet has important information for you to learn. Like my mom used to say, “God doesn’t make junk.” When a relationship is not working, there is usually a familiar way that we feel while we’re in it. We are attracted to people we can learn from. Read that sentence again, say it out loud, five times and then consider what that familiar feeling is. You might just surprise yourself if you’re honest with yourself. Sometimes the lesson is to let go of a relationship that no longer serves us. And sometimes we really don’t want a healthy relationship at all. A truly healthy relationship will consist of both partners who are interested in learning and expanding a relationship so that it continues to improve.
· Do not do anything for others if it comes with an expectation of reciprocation. The things you do for others must always be done because you chose to do them and you wanted to do them. Do not hold your “good deeds” over people’s head at a later time. Keeping score in a relationship will never work. After all, a gift is not armament, unless it’s a gun or other weapons of mass destruction.
Good relationships are able to share the good times and help each other through the tough ones. Talking and listening are probably the most important skills in a relationship. There'll always be tensions and disagreements, but if you can communicate well, you can overcome almost any problem.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015 where we all improve our relationships, with ourselves and the world around us!