“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ~Dalai Lama
Time flew by and now it’s the Love Month! February is not just for romantic relationships but it’s about your relationship with people you love – your mom and dad, sisters, brothers, colleagues, your boss maybe or could even be that old lady who lives alone next door and her dog.
If you’re one of the people who knows me personally, you’d know that I am no expert when it comes to relationships, but I’ve come to accept all my mistakes and of course want to be a better person for the people I love. Thousands of wrong decisions on relationships and yet I still have so much to learn. I’ve expected too much, trusted people less and less, been too competitive at times, way too independent and a lot more.
If relationship is easy for you, then you should be the one writing this post instead of me. Relationships are not easy for me. I think they mirror everything that we feel about ourselves. When your day was crappy, you easily get pissed and then you treat people around you badly. When you are not happy with yourself, sometimes the relationship you have with other people seems lacking. Technically we don’t live in a vacuum. We have thoughts and feelings that can be confusing. Everyone else. And unlike most of the Disney movies, these feelings don’t always collide smoothly.
Here are some of the ideas that not only helped me get through my day but made me feel confident, strong, compassionate, and peaceful in my interactions with the people I love.
Do what you need to do for you. We have different personal needs, whether it’s taking care of our little ones or just taking some alone time on Saturday morning. If someone asks you to do something and your instinct is to honor you own need, then do that. I’m not saying you can’t make sacrifices sometimes, but it’s important to make a habit of taking care of yourself.
Someone once said that people are like glasses of water. If we don’t do what we have to do to keep our glass full, we’ll need to take it from someone else—which leaves them half full. Fill your own glass so you can feel whole and complete in your relationships.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s tempting to doubt people – to assume your boyfriend meant to hurt you by not inviting you out with his friends, or your friend meant to make you feel inadequate by flaunting her money but give them the benefit of the doubt that it was not their intention to make you feel that way. People who care about you want you to feel happy, but sometimes they get too wrapped up in their own problems that it shows well.
Although sometimes they may be hurtful and really mean it – let’s not pretend we’re all angels. But that does not happen all the time. It will likely be when they’re hurting and don’t know what to do with it. Odds are they’ll feel bad and apologize later. If you want to get good will, share it by seeing the best in the people you love. When we assume the best, we often inspire it.
Look at yourself for the problem first. When you feel unhappy with yourself, it’s easy to find something wrong in a relationship. If you blame another person for what you’re feeling, the solution is on them. But this is actually faulty logic. For starters, it gives them all the control. And secondly, it usually doesn’t solve the problem, since you didn’t actually address the root cause.
Next time you feel the need to blame someone for your feelings – something they did or should have done – ask yourself if there’s something else going on. You may find there’s something underlying: something you did or should have done for you. Take responsibility for the problem and you have power to create a solution.
Be mindful of projecting. In psychology, projecting refers to denying your own traits and then ascribing them to the outside world or other people. For example, if you’re not a loyal and trusting friend, you may assume your friends are all out to get you. It’s a defense mechanism that allows you to avoid the discomfort of acknowledging your weaknesses. There’s no faster way to put a rift in your relationships.
This comes back to down to self awareness, and it’s hard work. Acknowledging your flaws isn’t fun, but if you don’t, you’ll continue seeing them in everyone around you. And you’ll continue to hurt. Next time you see something negative in someone else, ask yourself if it’s true for you. It might not be, but if it is, identifying it can help create peace in that relationship.
Choose your battles. Everyone knows someone who makes everything a fight. If you question them about something, you can expect an argument. If you comment on something they did, you’ll probably get yelled at. Even a compliment could create a confrontation. Some people just like to fight—maybe to channel negativity they’re carrying around about the world or themselves.
On the one hand, you have to tell people when there’s something bothering you. That’s the only way to address problems. On the other hand, you don’t have to let everything bother you. When I’m not sure if I need to bring something up, I ask myself questions like, does this happen often and leave me feeling bad? Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things? Can I empathize with their feelings instead of dwelling on my insecurity?
Confront compassionately and clearly. When you attack someone, their natural instinct is to get defensive, which gets you nowhere. You end up having a loud conversation where two people do their best to prove they’re right and the other one is wrong. It’s rarely that black and white. It’s more likely you both have points, but you’re both too stubborn to meet in the middle.
If you approach someone with compassion, you will open their hearts and minds. Show them you understand where they’re coming from, and they’ll be willing to see your side. That gives you a chance to express yourself and your expectations clearly. And when you let people know what you need at the right time in the right way, they’re more likely to give that to you.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. There are all kinds of ways you can feel vulnerable in relationships: When you express your feelings for someone else. When you’re honest about yourself or your past. When you admit you made a mistake. We don’t always do these things because we want to maintain a sense of power.
Power allows us a superficial sense of control, whereas true, vulnerable being allows us a sense of authenticity. That’s love: being your true self and allowing someone else to do the same without letting fear and judgment tear it down. It’s like Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
Think before acting on emotion. This one is the hardest for me. As soon as I feel hurt, frustrated, or angry, I want to do something with it – which is ALWAYS a bad idea. I’ve realized my initial emotional reaction does not always reflect how I really feel about something. Initially, I might feel scared or angry, but once I calm down and think things through, I often realize I overreacted.
When you feel a strong emotion, try to sit it for a while. Don’t use it or run from it—just feel it. When you learn to observe your feelings before acting on them, you minimize the negativity you create in two ways: you process, analyze, and deal with feelings before putting them on someone else; and you communicate in a way that inspires them to stay open instead of shutting down.
Maintain boundaries. When people get close, boundaries can get fuzzy. In a relationship without boundaries, you let the other person manipulate you into doing things you don’t want to do. You act out of guilt instead of honoring your needs. You let someone offend you without telling them how you feel about it. The best way to ensure people treat you how you want to be treated is to teach them.
That means you have to love and respect yourself enough to do that: to acknowledge what you need, and speak up. The only way to truly have loving, peaceful relationships is to start with a loving, peaceful relationship with yourself.
Enjoy their company more than their approval. When you desperately need someone’s approval, your relationship becomes all about what they do for you – how often they stroke your ego, how well they bring you up when you feel down, how well they mitigate your negative feelings. This is draining for another person, and it creates an unbalanced relationship.
If you notice yourself dwelling on pleasing someone else or getting their approval, realize you’re creating that need. (Unless you’re in an abusive relationship, in which case I highly recommend getting help.) Instead of focusing on what you can get from that person, focus on enjoying yourselves together. Oftentimes the best thing you can do for yourself and someone else is let go and give yourself permission to smile.
So let’s all enjoy the love month with the people we love and hope we all become better individuals!
Steps from 10 Ways to Have Peaceful, Loving Relationships.