Creating Meaningful Relationships
Human connection and meaningful relationships can be a rich source of happiness and fulfillment in life. We are social beings. Yet, meaningful relationships can be challenging to find and hard to maintain. Our inner experiences may also interfere with having the relationships we desire, such as:
Difficulty getting out there
You are not alone if these types of experiences have made relationships feel challenging at times. Building the relationships we want can require a willingness to challenge ourselves to move beyond our typical way of doing things in order to grow within ourselves and in relation to others.
Here are three general tips that may support cultivating meaningful relationships:
Compassion for ourselves and compassion for others. Compassion includes love, kindness, and awareness that we are not alone in our suffering. How can this help our relationships? Let’s explore two examples:
Compassion toward someone else: “Sally” is frustrated that her friend has not returned her phone calls in recent weeks. Sally notices her mind telling her thoughts like, “She thinks her time is more important than mine. I am also busy.” Yet, with a shift toward a more compassionate tone, Sally might think, “She is doing her best. The days can go by so quickly.”
Compassion toward ourselves: “Bob” faced anxiety to go to a Sunday lunch where he only knew one person. After getting home that evening, he noticed thoughts like, “I hope that didn’t offend her…Were my table manners good enough?…That was a pretty dumb comment that I made.” Yet, with a shift toward a more self-compassionate tone, Bob might think, “That was a really big deal how I faced my fear. I am proud of myself for trying.”
Offering compassion to ourselves and others can create a more nurturing space for our relationships to grow.
Awareness of What Matters
Our values are qualities that matter to us. If you haven’t considered what matters to you in relationships, it may be helpful to brainstorm. You might consider, how do I want to show up in relationships? A few examples could be showing up as loyal, honest, or dependable.
When we are trying to form or maintain meaningful relationships, having awareness about how we want to show up and how we hope others show up can help us have satisfying and fulfilling relationships.
For example, it is important to “Sally” that she is active. With her friends, she enjoys running, volleyball, and trying new outdoor sports. These relationships add meaning and fulfillment to Sally’s life because they are in line with what matters to her and support her embodiment of her most authentic self.
When we have awareness of how we want to show up, we have opportunities to move in that direction. Yet, embodying our most authentic selves might feel scary or risky. For example, if we want to be honest in relationships, it might require us to be vulnerable at times. However, a goal of taking action is that we open ourselves to new experiences which can offer opportunities for purpose, fulfillment, and joy to flow into our lives. With time and practice, what feels scary right now may grow more comfortable and familiar.
For example, before “Bob” went to Sunday lunch, he felt anxious, nervous, and his thoughts were racing about what others may think of him. Yet, he went that Sunday. And he went again several Sundays after that. Each time, he practiced social skills, contributing to conversations, and enjoying the present moment. Over time, he became more experienced and skilled, and he began to look forward to Sunday lunch. His life felt fuller from the friends he made and experiences he had.
We can create meaningful, fulfilling relationships and Learn How to nurture them well.
If you would like support increasing compassion for yourself or others, exploring what you value in relationships, or setting goals and taking action reach out for a free 15-minute informational consultation. I want to help people live with happiness, joy, and fulfillment. Holistic therapy that welcomes the mind, body, and spirit can help.
*Please note that these tips may help relationships with friends, partners, or work colleagues. These tips are not intended to help you navigate an abusive or dangerous relationship. Please seek professional help if needed.
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