Ever felt like your relationships – with yourself, significant other, friends, coworkers, or family – are surface-level or fizzling out? You’re not alone. People spend countless amounts of money on therapists, psychics, seminars, retreats, and online courses to help them better understand how to strengthen relationships in their lives.
In reality, all of these relationships and how they affect your life come back to one thing: YOU. How you communicate, respond to stimuli, react to the actions of others, and cope with your feelings all depends on the relationship you have with yourself. Here are some tips on how to help you better understand what you need in your relationships with those around you:
Take a trip down memory lane
Think back on memories with some of the more significant people in your life. Recognize the times when you felt appreciated, felt like your needs were met, or felt like you or someone around you handled a problem in a constructive way. Now, look back on the times when you felt unappreciated, misunderstood, or felt like you or someone around you handled a problem in toxic manner. How were these negative experiences different than the positive ones you thought of before? What do you think you or the person you were dealing with did wrong or could have improved on? How could you have communicated in an effective way to help solve whatever problem you were having? What are some better ways to cope with your feelings and make sure you and the people around you feel comfortable?
Write it out
While reflecting on your relationships, it can be beneficial to write about them it in a journal. Writing about these memories gives you more time to think about them and articulate your thoughts, as well as helps you remember and lay out your experiences and ideas for later.
Make some lists
While you’re journaling, make some lists that have to do with these past experiences. List 5 things that you wish you could change in your relationships with others; list 5 things you’d want to change about the way you react to these situations; list 5 things you wish you’d want to change about the reactions of those around you; list 5 ways you can effectively communicate your feelings and concerns to those around you. Making lists can help you brainstorm and feel more comfortable in understanding what you want and need and how to go about getting those things.
Start a dialogue with those around you
Once you’ve identified what needs to be worked on in your relationships, and the ways you feel you can best fix those problems, it’s time to reach out to whomever you feel you need to. Meet up with your friend you’ve been having communication problems with, sit down with your romantic partner by whom you’ve been feeling unappreciated, or confront your family member or coworker who you feel has not been giving you the credit and appreciation you deserve. Think back on your notes and lists and find the most productive and mature way to let them know how you’re feeling and how you think you two can mend the situation.
Create new memories
If you’re feeling like your relationships with those around you have been dull, maybe it’s time to create some new memories with them. Go out for drinks, mini golfing, or any other exciting activity. Think of ways to make this outing fun, memorable, and fresh. If you do face any bumps in the road, think back on your new coping strategies. How will you use your past experiences (whether they were good or bad) to influence the way you handle this new situation? How will you react in a productive way, reassure yourself and those around you, communicate effectively, and work together to solve the problem?
Change your perspective
Now that you’ve been able to look back on your experiences and create a new set of tools to cope with the new ones that may come your way, it’s easier to change your perspective on the problems you’ll inevitably face. We all know that facing adversity is a part of life, and running into issues in our relationships with others is not something we can avoid. So, instead of taking every problem we face with others as a setback, shift your perspective and look at these roadblocks as learning experiences. When we recognize and reflect on our problems, we use those experiences to shape how we deal with new situations in the future.