I am having relationship issues. I can't seem to make one work, and I'm starting to think the problem is me. Maybe I didn't learn how to do healthy relationships because my family was dysfunctional. I don't know if this is something you can address in one article, but any help would be great.
You probably didn't learn healthy relationship skills from your family because almost no one does. Parents can't teach what they don't know themselves. And where else can you learn them? They don't teach this stuff in school or at church.
The good news is, you can learn to build healthy relationships, and it's not that hard. Here are five things you can do to improve the quality of your relationships:
1) Work on your self esteem
Low self-esteem is the number one cause of relationship problems. If you don't value yourself accurately, you will be in fear about your value all the time. When you are in fear about your value, you are focused on you (you are basically more seflish), and you are not capable of being loving. Healthy relationships can only happen when both parties accurately see their own value. When you are not insecure and needy, you can focus on loving each other instead.
If this is an issue for you, I strongly recommend working with a counselor or coach to improve your self-esteem. It is the greatest gift you could give to your spouse. Better self-esteem means less fear and drama in your relationship.
2) Work on a healthy life philosophy
If you see life as a testing center (instead of a classroom) and feel that your value is on the line all the time, you are not capable of loving others the right way. You must choose to see life as a classroom and give yourself and others permission to be a work in progress. You must trust life that it is a divine process created for your growth and learning. You must see that everything that happens to you is a lesson and is for your good. When you see life this way, and trust the process of life, you are more balanced, confident and loving.
3) Don't take things personally
Understand that most bad behavior is about the other person's fears, it's not about you. When the other party is unkind, unthoughtful or even mean, ask yourself what they are afraid of. Their fear about themselves is usually driving their bad behavior. When you can see their behavior for what it is (accurately), you can respond more appropriately (with more love and compassion). Remember, most bad behavior is a request for love more than it's an attack.
4) See other people as the same as you
We all have a tendency to see other people as better than us or worse than us. We see them as good guys and bad guys in our lives. The problem is, neither is accurate. If you could see people accurately, you would see that we are all the same. We have the same value. We are different, but we are all struggling, scared, divine, amazing human beings in process. In most ways, we are the same. When you can see your loved ones as the same as you (not judging them as better or worse), you will treat them with the respect and love they deserve.
This is most important before you have a difficult conversation. You must make sure you are not casting the other person as the bad guy, so you can feel superior to them. They will feel this, and the conversation will not go well.
5) Improve your communication skills
Last week's article was on this topic, and I highly recommend reading it, if you missed it.
6) Focus on giving, not getting
Most of us live in fear that we aren't good enough. In this place, we are selfishly focused on getting the love, attention and validation we need to quiet that fear. We become getters whose entire focus is on us. You can make a conscious choice, in each situation, to be a giver of love, attention and validation, not a getter.
You can choose to be the love in every room you enter, focused on giving to everyone there. You can ask more questions and do more listening. You can show people you care about them instead of worrying about whether they care about you. If you do this, it will change everything. You will also stand out because most people are not capable of this confident, loving behavior. If you want to have a great relationship, give more than you get.
If you will work on these six simple things, I promise your relationships will be healthier. I also recommend getting professional help at the first sign of trouble in your relationship (don't wait until the problems get bigger). Most problems are easy to fix with a little help.
Hope this gets you started.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.