We all talk about the life we want but, how often do our conversations include the types of relationships we would like to create? The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the health of your current relationships and consider how you would like to improve them. Think of a relationship that is particularly difficult for you at the moment. It may be the one you share with your romantic partner, a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. What do you want to change about this relationship? Be honest. The vast majority of people answer this question by wishing “the other” would change. Here are some common responses, see if you can identify yours? “If only s/he would: do as I ask, be grateful for all I do for them, be more affectionate, be less sensitive, be more confident, be more interested, be less involved” everything would be perfect. The list goes on but a common theme prevails. You are waiting for others to change. This is wasted energy. The only person who has the power to change is you.
As a dating and relationship coach, I regularly meet single clients who are exasperated and frustrated trying to find a partner. In an effort to alter their relationship status they focus their energy on changing everything from their online dating app, dating agency, dating partners (possibly in quick succession), the places they live, the bars they drink, and even their hobbies. Until you increase your self-awareness you can end up repeating the same relationship patterns over and over again. As long as you are “waiting” for something outside of yourself to change in order for you to be happy you will continue to feel exhausted and disempowered. So, why do we continue to stay in these self-made prisons? The answer is, we don’t know any other way. We need to acquire new skills that help us understand and identify the relational habits that are not serving us and decide to choose healthier ones, that offer us better outcomes.
You can reclaim your power and transform the relationships you have with others by choosing to understand the relationship you have with yourself. Our frustration with others often comes from our own fears, unconscious beliefs and emotions. We stay in a constant state of blaming others for our suffering until we turn our unconscious habits into conscious choice. This is the only way we can make permanent changes in our relationships. The following three fundamental techniques can help you begin to understand yourself more and move towards a place in which you hold the power to create the relationships you want.
1. Increase your self-awareness
Catch those moments when you find yourself blaming another person or situation for your suffering. What is really going on? What do you have the power to change?
2. Identify and feel your emotions and feelings
You will become more skilled at this technique the more you increase your self-awareness. For example, when you experience sadness, explore some of the possible reasons for your hurt? Stay with this feeling instead of denying it.
3. Discover your patterns in relationships
What struggles do you experience? For example, are there any fears, frustrations or disappointments that show up time and time again? Are you attracting similar dating partners who do not meet your needs? Are you constantly having the same arguments with different people?
Taking responsibility and caring for your own needs may be new to you and, you may find some of the techniques challenging. Don’t worry. Remember that learning to better understand yourself can create the kind of relationships you have always wanted. Like any new habit, developing new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving will take some time to establish. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion - very few of us have journeyed through life without adopting some unhealthy ways of relating.