February is here and we are focusing on all things relationships. And not just romantic relationships! We are focusing on nourishing and strengthening ALL relationships with friends, family, coworkers, strangers, and even the relationship you have with yourself. Forming deeper connections with those around you requires a bit of vulnerability, which can feel uncomfortable at first. Vulnerability takes courage and is at the center of meaningful connections.
This month, we encourage you to strengthen your connections through honesty and intentionality, and to make nourishing relationships a priority. Here are some tips.
To have a lasting relationship, the groundwork must be laid. And the key is consistency. Try this...
- Initiate communication. Send a song that made you think of someone, write a sweet note, or send a text with wishes for a happy and healthy day. Give what you want to get back and don't wait around for an invitation - start actively communicating with the people you want to feel close to.
- Add people to your schedule. Plan an activity or date with your kid, partner, or best friend, or invite someone new to coffee once a week. Plan a spa-vacation with a small group of friends or volunteer for a charity to meet new people. Actively make relationships a priority and you'll feel more alive than ever.
- Be honest. Always. Trust is at the core of all the best relationships.
PSST: If you haven't watched the new Jonah Hill documentary on Netflix, Stutz, go watch it. Jonah Hill's therapist, Phil Stutz, will inspire you to connect with people any chance you get.
Look for the common ground. 💖
One of the toughest things about making new connections or even strengthening old ones is the barrier of differing opinions and beliefs. You should never tone yourself down or apologize for your beliefs, but there are ways to communicate effectively and collaboratively, even in challenging relationships.
When a conversation starts to make you feel like you're hugging a cactus, don't let frustration overcome you. Try to remember a time when you changed your mind about something. Did that experience involve a hostility or tension? Probably not. If you are speaking with someone who has opinions that differ from yours and you find yourself getting heated, step away, take a breath, and try to frame the other person's perspective in the most positive light. Most people really do have good intentions but poor communication often makes us think otherwise. Look for opportunities to relate and build from there. You may just be able to have a positive influence on that person, and they can probably help you grow too. The key is not shutting down the opportunity by putting someone on the defense.
Self care sets you up for success.
Healthy relationship building requires getting in touch with yourself — liking, understanding, and caring for yourself so that you can like, understand, and care for others. Take some time to practice self care, to slow down, and to reflect.
Dedicate quiet time to think and be honest with yourself. Think about times you have felt guilt, fear, or jealousy. (Highly recommend journaling it out.) This will give you a better understanding of what challenges you might unknowingly be facing in your relationships. We all have baggage, but understanding what yours looks like will help you connect and communicate better.
And take time to do things you love by yourself. Indulge in your hobbies, and never stop growing. Psychotherapist, Esther Perel, found we are more attracted to our partners when we observe them passionately engaged in something not involving us (art, work, socializing, etc...). The more you nourish your own passions, the more people will be drawn to you. That kind of energy is attractive.
If you want to know more about Esther Perel's research on attraction check out her Ted Talk on the secret to desire in a long term relationship.
Leave a comment