This post isn’t necessarily just about romance. It’s about any relationship – with your brother, your mother, your coworker, or your friend.
And I admit I am not an expert.
I’ve made a million and one mistakes in relationships. I’ve expected too much. I’ve been competitive. I’ve been suspicious. I’ve been dependent. I’d like to think what redeems me from all these mistakes is that I’ve also been honest.
Being self aware, in my opinion, is far more valuable than being perfect -mostly because the former is attainable and helpful, while the latter is neither.
Relationships are not easy. When you’ve had a bad day (especially in a country like Nigeria where I come from), the people around you seem difficult. When you’re not happy with yourself, your relationships seem to be lacking.
If you’ve ever gotten in a fight only to find yourself wondering what you were really upset about, this post will help you. If you’ve ever been disappointed because someone didn’t meet your expectations, this post will help you, too. When I apply these ideas, I feel confident, strong, compassionate, and peaceful in my interactions. I hope they can do the same for you.
1. 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
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 hit 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 to let-go and give yourself permission to smile.
What do you do to create peace and love in your relationships?