Our personal relationships are vital to our well-being because human connection gives us a sense of belonging. When we feel supported and connected to others, we minimize stress and anxiety in life. Our relationships can be life-affirming when they work. However, when they don’t, they can cause us frustration and heartache. Here are four ways to help you improve your relationships.
Understand that Relationships Create Emotional Challenges
We need to embrace the fact that relationships take work. The fantasy that a relationship will simply fall into place if it’s meant to be is common but unrealistic. Romance and sex are not the building blocks to a strong relationship. After the romance fades, things get real. We start to notice traits about our partner that we don’t like. We aren’t having as much fun as we did at the beginning of the relationship. We start to struggle with emotional challenges, which often leads to questioning or even ending the relationship. If we understand that emotional challenges are an inevitable part of every relationship, we are more equipped to go forward and work through issues as we get to know our partners at a deeper level.
Realize that Relationships Reflect Our Beliefs
Our relationships reflect our ideas about who we are. We formed beliefs about ourselves and the world as we grew up. Good or bad, our childhood beliefs influence our adult behavior. If we developed low self-esteem in childhood due to a lack of consistent healthy feedback from our parents, we’ll make relationship choices later that mirror our belief. The way we felt love and validation from our parents dictate the way we seek out love in adulthood. For example, looking pretty may have elicited loving attention from your parents if you’re a female. So, you came to develop the belief that you must look pretty to be loved. Or, if you’re a male, your parents may have given you praise when you held in your emotions. So, you fear rejection if you show your true feelings. Your parents did the best they could to love you but sometimes suffered from their own low self-esteem, which may have played out in their marriage. When you understand that your beliefs around self-identity influence your relationships, you have the power to create a healthier self-image, which will improve your relationships.
Be Able to Accept Your Partner’s Limitations
Sometimes, our partners can’t give us what we need emotionally. As children, we relied on our parents to take care of our emotional needs. We needed soothing when we hurt and hugs when we felt scared. If we had consistent parental support, we felt secure and grew in self-love, which helped us become responsible for our emotional needs in adulthood. If, on the other hand, we didn’t learn how to take care of our emotional soothing, we came to rely on people, places, and things to soothe us. It’s not a bad thing to ask for support from your partner or loved ones. However, if they sometimes fall short of what you need, it’s not because they don’t love you. It’s important to understand that they are limited by their capacity to care for their emotional needs.
The Practice of Mindfulness Strengthens Relationships
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for overcoming landmines in relationships. Self-inquiry and compassion are key elements to the mindfulness practice. Mindfulness helps you understand what causes you to act in a certain way and how your behavior affects your relationships. The practice strengthens your ability to be compassionate with yourself and, in doing so, allows you to become more empathetic with your partner. The more you understand yourself, the more empowered you are in transforming beliefs that erode love. Rather than becoming triggered emotionally by your partner, you can quietly go within and look at the beliefs causing your reactions. When you understand your part in the upset, you’re in a better place to work things out. Working through conflict with a mindful approach leads to mutually satisfying outcomes.
In conclusion, the more you know about yourself and your beliefs about relationships, the easier it will be to have a loving relationship and experience the rewards of connection. Through introspection and knowledge of behavior patterns in your past relationships, you can transform a history of relationship struggles into a future of healthy and satisfying relationships.
Article by Elizabeth Golembiewski
Elizabeth Golembiewski is a Certified Dating, Relationship, and Spiritual Life Coach in Austin, Tx. Elizabeth helps people gain deep insight into the cause of their difficulties and then guides them to heal the emotional wounds and thought processes that keep them stuck. Her past struggles with dating, relationships, and codependency serve as a powerful source for the work she does with clients. She has over ten years of successfully facilitating singles groups, holding workshops, and coaching singles and couples. Her expertise has been sought out by local and national media. She welcomes your connection!
Learn more about Elizabeth’s work at https://www.buildlovingrelationships.com.