How can I have a healthy relationship?
I have been very blessed as I am in a long term loving marriage. As I happily enter my third decade with my husband I feel I can share my own thoughts and experiences on what the magic is for a long and healthy relationship. But these principals apply to all our relationships, whether they are with a friend, colleague or family member.
1) Focus firstly on yourself
I believe it is a very simple recipe and it is the same one I apply to myself, my parenting journey as well as being a wife, a friend etc. That is to focus first and foremost on myself. To be the healthiest version of myself. To be fully accountable and responsible for myself in thought, word and deed. By not expecting my husband, son or friend to do that for me I don't give my power away, and anything they do contribute is a total bonus.
It is so important to speak our own truth. I have learnt to be as Mindful of my own needs in relationships with others as I am of their needs. It is essential to also tune in to others and ask after them, but while really listening to their response. They know we are listening because we actually comment on what it was that they said, without immediately going to a story about ourselves that came up for us. Practicing this empathetic way of listening is essential to good, healthy communication.
3) Be more present
In the age of the mobile phone, 24 hour TV and expected long working days, it is very easy to become so distracted by events happening anywhere other than right in front of us. Time is the same for all of us, but how present and aware we are makes all the difference in our relationships with others. I notice this in particular when I am on holiday, or out at a restaurant, where it seems that many people are so busy documenting the event, or spending it with someone that isn't with them at the time via their phone.
It is also essential to notice your own thoughts distracting you away from a moment you are having with someone else. Our own thoughts can prevent us from being fully present as well. When you become aware of these things you can make some ground rules for yourself.
4) Be yourself and let others be themselves too!
I think my own 'love affair' with myself really began when I started to truly acknowledge what made me 'me' and not try and change this for anyone else. It is a real act of self love to accept yourself 'warts and all!' and then honor your own needs. But the real gifts start flowing when you also offer this gift to others. By allowing someone else to be themselves, you take away your judgement and this helps them feel fully accepted by you. For example some people appear 'stressed' when they are driving, others feel anxious when they have to cook, a mindful relationship is when we allow someone to have these expressions of themselves and not criticise them or request they 'stop' expressing themselves.
Learning how to use our own passions, hopes, dreams and gifts to enhance our own life and then encouraging this in others brings peace and harmony to the world, as people begin to experience their own flow.
5) Be empathetic and show compassion
Blame, shame, criticism and judgement are the poisons in our relationships with our self and others. The opposite of this is empathy and compassion. Learning how to stand in someone else's shoes, and showing them that we acknowledge their experience and understand how they are feeling is the marking of a truly mindful relationship. Being there fully for someone in their hour of need without requiring anything in return is a true act of love. Loving someone without conditions is the highest form of love. Remember however, healthy relating, is only giving as much of ourselves, our time and resources that we have left over, spare, to give. If we have worked hard enough to keep our own cup full, then there will be reserves left over for others. Small and random acts of kindness go along way in mindful relationships.
6) Forgiving ourselves and others
Key to having loving relationships is allowing them to ebb and flow. Acknowledging if we have harmed someone in anyway, whether intentionally or not, and showing we are genuinely sorry for that is key. Forgiving someone, if we feel they have wronged us as well is equally as important. This does not mean allowing abusive behaviour to be part of our relationships with others. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself is to leave a relationship which is abusive and causing you extreme pain and harm. But if the relationship is able to be saved and is going through tough times, you might need to take some time out, and give each other some space, until emotions have calmed down, and then with love, be open to admitting you own fault and asking for forgiveness, or by sharing with someone else how their actions or (inaction) has hurt you and asking to work together to find a solution is important for having a healthy and mindful relationship.
7) Allow for space and peace. Create healthy boundaries.
Part of acknowledging your own needs, is learning to say 'no', especially at times when you 'notice that you are feeling tired, uncomfortable, or needing to focus on some self care. In this busy world taking time out when you need it, and keeping time for solitude and silence brings you back to calm. Allowing those you love time to just 'be' and not needing to be constantly in 'doing mode' is essential to creating a healthy mindful relationship. It is important to create healthy boundaries in each of your relationships, where you acknowledge someone else's need for privacy, reflection time and solitude.
Learn more about Mindful Relationships