- One of the greatest gifts we can ever give or be given is the gift of loving, committed relationship.
To have strong relationships, we have to be committed to core values to protect our connections.
The best way to create lasting connection is by allowing people to see who you are, and trusting them with that. Most people fear that if I show you me, you will try to control me, but all of us still desire intimacy (into-me-you-see), to know, and be known. What I desire is within my control. I can not always rely on what other people might choose to do, but I can take responsibility for the kind of relationships I want in my life.
I know, it may not seem possible, but I can move toward others by choosing to work on me.
Here are 5 ways to be proactive in relationships. I’ve listed them as “I” statements you can use to communicate with others:
1. I will build a safe place, filled with open, honest communication.
A safe place means there are less things you have to guess about, and more things you have really good information about. You have that really good information because I have freely given it to you. A good analogy of this is operating in a dark room vs. a light room. When the light is on, I don’t have to think about what is there. I am much more aware of where I am going. When I am in a dark room, I feel anxious because I do not have a good sense of where I am going, or what obstacles might be in my way.
Honest communication is like being in a light room. We have the ability to turn the light on in every relationship. Turning the light on means I tell you what is happening inside of me using “I messages.” A good “I message” is designed to help someone see into me. A good example might be to tell your spouse, “When you speak to me in that way, I feel afraid, I need to feel safe when we communicate.”
2. I will take personal responsibility
On a good day, I can control myself. I don’t ever have control over other people. In a relationship, the other person has to know that my job is not to control you. I am responsible for my thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. When I am responsible for me, I will never be able to blame you for how I choose to behave. I will be responsible for me, and I expect the same from you.
3. I will accept you, but not necessarily your behavior
The foundation of a successful relationship is you get to be you. Differences can sometimes create anxiety in any relationship, and can lead to a desire to control, or change the other person. Mature love offers opportunities for me to get to know you and value differences.
Occasionally, behavior is unacceptable. I will have to decide about my level of participation in disrespectful conversations. I train people how to treat me by whether or not I allow disrespect in our interactions.
4. I will tell you about me. I will let you tell me about you.
When I don’t want to be vulnerable, I displace responsibility onto other people. This might sound like, “You make me angry, sad, anxious, or jealous.” I want to get good at showing you me. I need to feel accepted and understood. When I can communicate what is happening inside of me, I take responsibility for that, which means you are free to tell me about you. This kind of communication creates an environment of understanding compared to defensiveness.
5. I will use assertive communication
There are four types of communication:
Passive – You matter, and I don’t
Aggressive – I matter, you don’t
Passive/Aggressive – You matter/no you don’t
Assertive – We both matter
When I can communicate using assertiveness, I am sending you the message that we both matter. Your needs and your thoughts are valuable, and so are mine. There are solutions that meet both sets of needs.
When we can get good at these steps for healthy connection, and intimacy, we will truly be able to experience relationships full of safety and depth.
All of us have the desire to be truly known and loved.
And it will take some work.
But by practicing these steps and intentionally developing them in our lives it will lead to more fulfillment and our greatest desire for intimacy and trust being recognized.
PS) What steps can you take today to work on building loving connections?
PSS) For more on this topic, check out the Life Academy if you are wanting to share these tools with others we are having a Christmas sale on the Life Academy now, get it before the sale ends!