Relationships. We all want one and we all need them, but they can be one of the hardest things to navigate over our lifetime. Why is that, do you think? You may think "I'm a nice person and I do my best, why is that guy or girl a jerk to me!?"
Relationships are so complicated. They factor in all the things you know/see and can touch/feel, but they also factor in a lifetime of your history and theirs, your triggers and theirs, and your default reactions and theirs. This is where things can get messy.
It's the things we cannot see that cause the most disruption. But just because you cannot see something doesn't mean you cannot have great relationships. How, do you ask? Well, let me tell you.
To have healthy thriving relationships a few things need to be in place.
1.Seek out healing. No one had a perfect childhood. No one. We all carry around baggage from when we grew up. It's no one's fault, it just is what it is. We all have been relationally hurt as well. This causes a lot of problems in our lives! Much more than you know! Seek out a good pastor or a counselor and work through your story. You may even need a specialist who can do trauma therapy - that's OKAY. Allow your inner world to find peace and healing. This will set you up in a much better relational way!
2. Encourage and give space for the other person to do the same. You cannot force anyone to change, and they may live their WHOLE life and never choose to get healing, and that is okay. Sad for you, but okay. The best way to influence is to live your life healthy to inspire and encourage. The second is to always make room for that person to ask questions and be inspired by you. It's hard not to get attitude at times, but kindness goes further than anger.
3. Know WHO you are. What are your values? Who are you? Find who you are and live THAT person every day. Be true to who you are... If we live as someone else or always bend to other's intentions and directions, we (over time) may become lost and relationally even bitter. This is not our best life. To live healthy, we must know who we are and be true to who we are.
4. Ask for help when you need it. Your needs are just as important as others. We learn to show up for ourselves by taking care of our own needs. We feed ourselves when we are hungry. We sleep when we are tired. But sometimes we have needs others must meet and it is a healthy thing to be able to communicate that without shame or embarrassment. And in a healthy relationship, that other person would do their best to meet that need.
5. Show appreciation. Yes, say thank you....but it can go deeper than that. Ever heard of the Five Love Languages? Quality time, physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, and acts of service. A way to appreciate the other person is to use words, but also show up for them in the way they know how to receive love. Do they value quality time? If so, show up for them by spending time with them as they engage with something they like. Is it words of affirmation? If so, show up for them by taking a minute and using verbal or written words to say something kind about them and to them.
6. Fight with the idea that you're on the same team. Sure, fights happen. We are different and the act of coming together will bring about disagreements. But healthy relational fighting looks a lot different than unhealthy fighting! When we fight and play the blame game it is unproductive. But when we fight working to get on the same page, we are being productive. It can be hard if historical wounds are still unhealed to fight well, but the aim would be to get to a place where the fighting ultimately brings you closer as you navigate life on the same team!
7. Establish healthy boundaries. This concept goes hand in hand with the ideas about knowing who you are and seeking to be healed from past hurts. Because to have a healthy boundary, you must start with knowing you're worthy of having a boundary at all! Self-esteem plays a huge role in establishing healthy boundaries. Be open and honest with your communication as you work to have boundaries.
8. Communication. This probably should have been number one in our list here, because if we don't have this, we don't have a relationship. Learning how to communicate assertively is number one and learning to listen well is vital to a healthy relationship. Without communication, you will lack relational connection.