This year we celebrated International Women’s Day traditionally 8th March. This was a bit different because around a year ago our life has changed upside down and we had to deal with this new situation, reorganise our relationships, routines, priorities and suffered a lot. In order to honour this and celebrate a year of survival and progress that we all made I am going to share with you a series of 4 blogs and videos with affordable tips dedicated to: Physical Health & Beauty, Relationships, Mental health and spirituality, finishing up with Work, Money and Learning.
Some of my blog posts are about the world and the relationship of yourself, and how you can improve this area of your life, so here I would like to focus on the relationship with another person.
This is a second part of the series focused on “Relationships”. This is a topic that is very close to my heart. As Esther Perel says, “The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.” and I cannot agree more.
Family, friends, and partners are for many of us the most important and deepest relationships we formed but we also cannot forget colleagues from work, business partners, acquaintances, neighbours and other people in the community.
Here I have prepared and would like to share with you a list of personal traits and behaviours that I personally believe and proved to be a good foundation for deep and lasting relationships.
- Speak-up (courage), tell the truth and be vulnerable
It is true that the more we care the more we speak up in any relationship. The more we want to be in a relationship the more we are willing to do and invest ourselves in. It is striking how much we can influence connection with another person by being vulnerable, by sharing things that are not necessarily easy or popular to say and how much this has an affect on our lives. It also shows what the connection with ourselves is and how much we know about “us” because then we can share more or less about us. I have learned about vulnerability from the author Brene Brown and she made me realise how it is helpful to build better and more loving relationships.
- Spend more time with people you love to form lasting memories.
Would you agree that it is easier just to text and it may feel like a connection with another person? Sending a voice message moves it a step further and having a real phone conversation is a major step from texting. When adding video cameras the connection moves even to another level. If you are talking to a friend (it is not a formal conversation, like for example an interview) and you feel like you do look too tired or do not have the right hair today, I understand that you do not want to turn the camera on (you know that in this moment it is your ego talking and you can see point 1 about connection, about being vulnerable). So if you are a “texting person”, real-time connection with video would be too much for you, try first with calling without video on and then add a video later. But the best is face to face connection, sitting next to each and having eye contact. Here you can really feel the connection, your all senses are alert and present and you can focus on the other person and dive deep into the connection.
- Listen actively
This is the hardest. We are so longing for connection however often when the other person is finished with speaking we jump into it with our own story, and here we are; in our own head, with our thoughts, like children in the school speaking when it is “our turn” and the teacher asks us to speak up. If you think this could be you, let me tell you that there are many people who are “waiting for their turn” and that’s all that matters to them. Be aware of that and when someone does this to you you can go to the point 1 and speak up. From my experience this is the ultimate killer of any relationship, a situation when you are not being seen or heard. And it is something that I have experienced recently on the dating scene when I felt that this person is having a monologue and does not even take into account what I think or feel during the whole time. To be honest I do not see a difference talking to a wall or speaking to yourself. Even speaking to a fish in a water tank creates a better connection than “monologuing”, right? So I would like to encourage you, do not just wait for your turn, ask the other person questions and rephrase what they have just said to make sure that you have understood them well before you start talking about yourself. If you would like to learn more about this topic I would recommend looking for the work of Harville Hendrix and his wife.
- Believe that you are worth amazing relationships
Many of us believe what society and family have taught us by now about relationships and that this is how our relationships will look like in the future. What if I told you that this is just the beginning? If you wish or believe that you deserve to have better and deeper relations in this global world it is possible. It will require more than sitting in one spot but it is possible. As one of my coaches Brendon Burchard says, “raise the ambition for relationships” in your life. Why do you want to have average relations in your life? Why would you agree to be treated poorly?
- Be intentional
I would like to explain what I mean by intentional. Before you connect with another person, ask yourself, what do I want to share? What outcome do I want to see? So many people are just mumbling with their partner and sharing every single thought that comes to their mind all the time. Yes, there are times when you really like to “download” everything that has happened in your day or describe a particular situation but I think what it is more beautiful is to tell the other person, “Listen, I want to share my day with you now, please do not judge, do not interrupt, just listen”. Several will argue that this does not go hand in hand with spontaneity and yes, I agree. All I am saying is that if you like to have deeper relationships, implementing some planning and not just leaving it for the last moment or “going with the flow” helps to get there.
- Be present but be aware how much you speak
Imagine connecting with another person like visiting someone and saying “hello” and saying goodbye in their world, like opening and closing the door, like arrival and departure. So when you enter someone else’s home, you start small, start from the top to the bottom in terms of the topics and you are present. You look around, ask questions, you interact to build that connection. It is very difficult to do this all the time because we do not live in a perfect world (thank God!), but try to keep this in your mind; staying present and being aware how long you speak or “monologuing”. Give the other person space but also remember promises you gave to yourself on how you will be treating yourself and others. And this is obvious, “multitasking” with your phone does not work to deeper connect.
- Keep harmony and let go when the time comes
Healthy relationships are like a “rubber band”, you spend some time in your world and some time in the relationship with the other person. There is no recipe for the optimum balance, how much time or what the ratio is on spending the time in a relationship with the other person because this is a mutual agreement and it will also change with time. So just choose some proportion and see how it works for you. One of the most important and difficult skills in life is to learn how to let go, how to say goodbye without a regret. If you have tried maximum possible efforts and the relationship still does not work, give yourself space and see how you would feel then. Letting go is hard but it will be easier with time.
If you do not know where to start, focus first on improving the most important and lasting relationship and that is the relationship with yourself. And if you like the relationship to grow or at least sustain, add always a little more from yourself so that it does not feel like a barter.
Relationships evolve over the lifetime and they are the best teachers of all, so let’s connect with others and really feel what life is about.