Whether it be family, friends or romantic relationships, the path to healthier relationships with others begins with the most important relationship we have – the one with ourselves. The following are some of the key elements of a healthy relationship:
- Authenticity: Knowing who we really are and what we want. Even though it’s scary, being able to speak openly about our feelings and needs. Putting down some of the masks we wear in everyday life.
- Boundaries: Setting limits of what types of behavior we will tolerate and not tolerate in relationships. Sticking to those boundaries even when pressured to do otherwise.
- Reduce “people pleasing”: Doing what others want us to do at the expense of our own self-care. Like the airplane safety analogy – even if you have a small child, you are still supposed to put on your oxygen mask before you help them. Self-care comes first.
- Letting go: Recognizing that there is only one thing we have control over in this world – ourselves. Not the circumstances around us and certainly not other people. There can be great freedom in letting go of trying to control the things we ultimately cannot, and focusing on changing our behavior. A saying we like is, “that which you try to control, really controls you.”
- Recognizing the Patterns: Often, when we get upset about something, there is a deeper layer to that response, which may have been conditioned through our childhood and adolescent years. It can be challenging to unpack where these ‘automatic’ response begin, but doing so enables us to have healthier relationships.
While this is a start, there are many other aspects of healthy relationships with others that can be explored, depending on the individual. We believe that working with a trained therapist can help to focus on the areas that will have the most impact for any unique situation.