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Every relationship you have with an individual is unique. You have expectations in your mind of how you think others should interact with you. When these expectations fall short, you react internally, externally, or both. It can be difficult to build or maintain friendships and intimate relationships from this place of tension. In the end, intention and attention can make or break the end result of your connections.
Although each relationship is unique, there are some universal tips you can use as guidelines to strengthen your relationships.
1. Allow Growth
Once you have been around a person for many years, you may feel like you know everything about them—what they love, what they hate, their hobbies, their interests, their approach to challenges, etc. When any of these things change or seem out of place, it may make you wonder why. Why are they changing? What are they thinking?
It can also make you fear losing them or not being as close anymore. Maybe you don’t agree with this change or decision. If you find yourself in this position, talk about your thoughts with open honesty, not with anger. Detach from wanting control and the fear of losing them. Know that even though you can talk to your friend or partner when you feel a bad decision is being made, you cannot control their final decision. Allow room for growth.
2. Focus on Understanding
You can never be in someone else’s brain; you don’t know how childhood, memories, traumas, or the programming that comes along with being human has truly affected them. Most people don’t even understand how those things have affected themselves. What you can do is make listening a part of your relationship with others.
Ask the hard questions. Listen to the answers even if you don’t like them. Truly listen: Put down your phone, set aside the to-do list in your brain, and give 100 percent of your attention to understanding. Too often you hear but you do not listen. You think you can multi-task, but the truth is that your brain is wired to do only one thing at a time.
When you are washing the dishes while your best friend is pouring their heart out over a recent breakup you only hear—you don’t feel, you don’t catch every word, you aren’t looking them in their eyes to see the real pain. This also holds true for the happy moments as well as the challenges. Your time with the ones you love is a priceless gift. Give them the attention and understanding you would intend to give if you knew it was your last day with them.
3. Give Space for Alone Time
Just because someone doesn’t want to hang out or talk, doesn’t mean they are upset with you; it may mean they just need space. They need to hear their own thoughts without interruption—maybe they need to clear themselves of the energy they have absorbed throughout their day or week. Again, this doesn’t mean it was necessarily bad energy, so if they have already spent their day with you, don’t take offense.
Your ego wants to make everything about you, but refer back to understanding. For example, you may be an extrovert and your loved one is an introvert. While an extrovert loves to be around people all the time, an introvert can become extremely agitated at this notion. Studies have shown this could be linked to dopamine. If these terms are new to you, take a look here as a starting place for more research.
4. Practice Non-Judgment
You are programmed to judge; you have personal emotions and feelings that judge. Even if you strive to be non-judgmental, you will still have things you view as ‘good’ and others as ‘bad.’
The good news is that you can consciously make an effort to put judgment to the side and, over time with intent, it will become less and less. With those you love, it is often harder rather than easier. Why do you judge them more than strangers? Because you love them more. You see the good within with a clearer vision. When you see such a beautiful light, it is difficult not to judge when they do or say something that you feel is outside of that light.
Try to remind yourself of two important factors:
- Each person is doing their best from their level of consciousness.
- We are all light and dark. No matter how amazing an individual is, they have negative moments. If played out with the right intentions, these negative moments can lead to amazing evolution and personal growth. Of course there is always the possibility that your opinion is just your opinion.
5. Be Present
Listening to a loved one ramble on about their passions, their day, and their thoughts can be one of two things: enjoyable or annoying. If you have children, you understand that statement at its fullest. It can be hard to focus when so much needs to be done and your loved one is chatting away.
The best gift in the world is to be in that moment with them. To learn about their passions. You may have never foreseen yourself learning how to play video games, water ski, meditate (wink wink), etc. But when you give a friend or family member your undivided attention, they feel how much you love them. Especially when they know it is not something you typically give your time toward. The topic of discussion or activity that is taking place is irrelevant to your love in that moment. That is what we leave behind on this earth, this is what people remember … our presence.
6. Be Trustworthy
As humans, we all desire trust. It may seem so simple and obvious yet it can be so difficult to find. Getting caught up in your own life or thoughts can often override a simple act of trust. Maybe you don’t think before speaking to others. Or to you, what was said in private may not seem like a big deal or secret per say. Be absolute certain, ask if you need to. There was a reason your loved one chose to share their thoughts and feelings with you—they trust you!
7. Give and Receive
The circle of giving and receiving can get complicated in relationships. Often one person feels as though they give more than the other. Let’s suppose you do give more in certain aspects. They may give more in other ways that you don’t value or perceive the same.
Often people have a difficult time truly receiving. This is not often thought about because on the surface level you may think, “Of course I love to receive!” Take a moment to scope out how your subconscious reacts. Do you respond with, “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” “I don’t need this,” or “This is too expensive”?
If you catch yourself saying such phrases, you could be blocking your blessings. If the people you love hear you say such things to them over and over, they begin to tune into how you are programming them. You set the standard for your own perception. They now feel as though you don’t even like receiving as much as you enjoy giving. Subconsciously you may not feel worthy or concern yourself with how much the other person had to sacrifice. Allow a flow of giving and receiving. Accepting both as a blessing that we share with all humans.
8. Respect Individuality
From co-workers to best friends, we are all a separate unit as much as we are one. Humans naturally want to be in groups. We see it and participate in it from elementary school into adulthood. Why? Because it is a natural desire to be accepted.
Your instinct tells you that if people are like you, the chances of acceptance are more likely. This is actually a misconception. A mirror image doesn’t mean an individual will accept you based upon similarities. They may choose to dissect what is different; they may also choose to be jealous.
A person accepts you based upon love and the desire to connect. Respecting the individuality of another welcomes that same respect in return. You can also learn from the differences in those around you. Whether you implement what you learn into your own life or not is irrelevant. Knowledge expands the consciousness, awareness, love, and acceptance of others. This is turn resembles peace and faith for your present and future.
9. Express Yourself
You grew up in one environment, your friend or partner in another. No matter how similar you guys may be, there still are differences. Developed in your subconscious is your perception of how to show love, compassion, and appreciation. Most of what you observe to be good or bad in relationships is learned from your parents or guardians. You have implemented what you have seen to be good and avoided what you have seen to be bad—most likely without much conscious effort. You created what you consider good and bad based upon experience. You may also tend to assume others know these good and bad, right and wrong ways as well, but they could have a different perspective.
Let’s take an example of a partnership where one person financially takes care of the family. To this individual, this may be how they express love. In this thought process, this particular individual may be somewhat exclusive at home. Not showing much physical affection, compliments, or verbal expressions of appreciation. To them, they have already done so by paying all of the bills. This may seem cold and disconnected to the person who expresses affection with hugs, conversations, etc. Remember each of us are individuals with many perceptions to love and relationships. Don’t be afraid to have conversations expressing what you see as forms of commitment, trust, love, and friendship.
10. Practice Daily Acts of Love
Everyone has their ideals of expressing and showing love. Our society has disconnected us from the roots of what this word even means. Many people are programed to think it’s about holidays, what we purchase for birthdays, how much we go out of our way, and how hard we work.
But do you need to be close to a person to love them? At the deepest level, your relationship with others is actually very personal. You can show love to everyone on this planet every day, all at one time. No, I’m not talking about the world’s largest group hug. I’m speaking about loving yourself and allowing that love to vibrate outwardly in all that you do. Each thought of love and compassion generates the same globally. A perfect way to show more intention and attention to this is through meditation. Thoughts of love in a daily practice will bring an abundance of love into your life, building strong and genuine relationships.