Three Secrets for Enhancing Your Relationships
BY DR. SHANNON TRAN
One of our most basic needs in life is relationship. It is the fabric of our daily lives. We have relationships with work, friends, family, partners, etc. As a Clinical Psychologist, I have the opportunity to work with a lot of people who yearn for more loving and fulfilling personal relationships. So many people suffer because they are trapped in abusive or destructive relationship patterns, and either can’t see it, or don’t know how to get out of it.
I have found that most people struggle in romantic relationships because they either have never seen a healthy relationship or they expose themselves to the wrong people or situations. In order to improve the quality of personal relationships and avoid bad ones, we have to be willing to let go of unhealthy patterns and replace them with healthy ones. Something amazing happens when we decide to make this choice! Either the relationship improves like magic or the relationship ends and an even better one comes in its place. If you are serious about better quality relationships in your life then read the three secrets below.
Secret #1: Be the kind of person you want to attract in your life.
If you want to be around quality people, you have to behave like a quality person. Set limits on people who behave poorly. If this is you, then you have some work to do. Decide what type of person you want to be, and adopt those characteristics. What kind of qualities do you admire in a person? What do you find attractive and why? For example, you may like strong people because you feel safe and protected or you may like easygoing people because you feel relaxed and calm. Make a list of the qualities you believe are most important in a relationship. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten. This helps you see where you fall on the scale, and where you may need some improvement. For example, if you rate honesty as high but only score as a three on a scale of one to ten, then you probably have to look at where you are not being honest in your life. What is holding you back from being more honest? What would it take for you to raise your honesty level? Some people want someone with “an edge” but that can mean many things, and you want the quality that you choose to show up in a positive way.
Secret #2: Walk your talk.
Have you ever heard of a “smooth talker”? A smooth talker is someone who seduces you with words but never follows it with action. I call such people a walking Hallmark card. It sounds really great! The problem is that person talks a good talk but does not walk the talk so it is really just words. Learn to be consistent in your word and behavior. Do not make false promises to someone, and do not allow someone to make false promises to you. Notice when someone is grossly exaggerating his or her abilities as it is often a sign of low self-esteem. If you currently have a hard time keeping promises, then start by making fewer promises and commit to fulfilling the ones you have made. Make sure the promises you make are ones you can realistically deliver. It is better to make fewer promises and stick to them, than to make a lot of empty promises. This builds trust, and you will feel really good about yourself for keeping your word. If you make a mistake, own up to it and take accountability. A quality relationship requires trust and accountability.
Secret #3: Be honest about your needs and expectations.
We all have needs and expectations, and that’s okay. The problem is that we often do not know if our expectations are reasonable for the other person. Some people aren’t even aware of their expectations until they are in a relationship. Be aware of your own expectations. Do you have negative expectations that you need to address? If you have negative expectations, you will likely have some distortions in your relationships because you will perceive experiences from those expectations.
I have worked with many people who expect to be disappointed or expect to be cheated on by their partner. Their expectations became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Clear out negative expectations, and open yourself up to new expectations that promote healthy relationships. Once you are aware of your needs, learn to communicate them in a way that allows the other person to meet them. People cannot read your mind or anticipate your needs. Nor do they know about your past hardships unless you choose to share it with them. If something is important to you, then express it. Start with a small need at first, and see how the person responds to your request. Was it safe? Was it honored? Is the person willing to meet your needs or make compromises? For example, a small request may be “I need to feel safe in the relationship so please do not yell at me when we have a disagreement,” or “I need to feel important to you so please spend more time with me.”
You may find that you are terrible at communication or lack a particular skill. That is normal. Everyone lacks a skill in some area of his or her life. Try to identify the area where you struggle and work on improving it. Some common areas include boundaries, expressing feelings, being assertive, over pleasing, over reacting, and worry thoughts or fears. The key is to learn one skill at a time, and then practice, practice, practice. You can learn skills through reading helpful magazines like this one, reading books, talking with friends, joining support groups, or seeking professional counseling. This can be hard work sometimes so try to be gentle with yourself, have fun along the way, and enjoy creating more satisfying and fulfilling relationships.
AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.shannontranphd.com/