I read in Butler and Hope’s book Managing Your Mind that when the people we love die, we often experience feelings of guilt and a sense of unfinished business. Yes, every relationship has moments of tension. None of us love someone without undergoing growing pains, struggles, and sometimes even travesties. These moments help us to learn and to grow. Yet, the moments of love, empathy, and compassion are what ultimately keep the relationship meaningful?and sustainable.
Gillian Butler, Ph.D, and Tony Hope, MD, show us how to maximize our relationships both with others and with ourselves. Strategies such as managing anger, showing fairness to yourself and others, valuing yourself and others, and addressing your inner voices all forge fruitful friendships.
We all know someone who frequently shows anger through tantrums. You know?the person to whom you gifted a book titled “Anger” a past holiday season. Funnily, nobody knows what happened to the book; it just sort of conveniently “disappeared.” This anger-prone person will attack your character, try to fill you with shame and guilt, and do so repetitively. don’t be this person.
Instead, follow the advice of Butler and Hope, and don’t sulk, shout, or punch and kick. Instead, calm down first. Approach the person with “I feel…” statements, such as “I felt hurt when you did such-and-such action.” don’t blame or shame the other person, and don’t attack the person’s character. Instead, comment on the behavior with which you felt uncomfortable. Ask the person what his or her view is, and listen carefully to the response. Focus on just one issue when expressing anger; don’t bring in a boatload of contentions to the discussion.
By implementing all of these strategies, you forge quality relationships and find constructive ways of managing anger.
Fire Up Fair Play to Yourself and to Others: Say No Sometimes
It’s okay to say no. When I worked at my prior firm, I was a “yes” person. If someone asked me to do something, I jumped at the chance to attend to the request. If I had worked at a company like Suncor or some other firm squeezed of human resources, the management might have kept me working long after the 9 to 5 shift ended. Sometimes “yes” leaves you stressed.
According to Butler and Hope, we should focus on saying “yes” only to the things in life we truly want to do. After all, when we say yes to something, we have to say no to something that might appeal to us more. Perhaps at the workplace, it is harder to say no to assignments. Yet, when our personal lives get swamped with demands, we should focus on saying no to anything we don’t really want to do. And say no assertively. If you get an invitation to an event you don’t want to attend, you can thank the person with a smile and decline. It’s okay to say no to people when you need to or if you don’t want to do what they request. don’t do things just to please someone or to boost your ego; instead, do things because they are meaningful or fun for you.
Spend your life doing the business that matters.
Value Yourself to Value Your Loved Ones
You must come to feel free with others, especially with yourself. The freedom to freely express ourselves in relationships is tantamount to positive bonding. In my relationship with my true love, on one hand, I can be completely myself. With some relatives, on the other hand, I burrow into a shell like a wounded animal, frightened to voice my views. Indeed, the best relationships are those where we can be ourselves. And who better to be ourselves with than with ourselves? In other words, one of the most important skills we can learn in our lifetimes is how to love our time alone.
To be sure, people with high intrapersonal intelligence thrive on time alone. These people seek out their own company to recharge their batteries. They are deeply in touch with their own value and self-worth.
Similarly, people high in empathy need to spend time alone, also to recharge their batteries. Highly empathic people need to remove themselves from the constant bombardment of negative energies from others. Also, highly sensitive people, not altogether unlike highly empathic people, need to find time alone to escape the drain of everyday life.
Yet, according to Butler and Hope, if you can learn to love yourself and your time alone, you become a better person in relationships. By being comfortable with yourself, you can better assert your own rights and know when to nurture or end relationships. When should you end a relationship? if you have conflict with others, first, don’t try to change the other person. Change yourself. Despite the benefits of changing yourself, others will initially resist these changes. Eventually, they will change along with you. Second, if you make a change to improve a relationship, and the other person still remains problematic, it may be time to consider ending the bond.
Loving yourself helps you forge quality friendships.
Your Two Inner Voices: What Do You Value
What do your inner voices tell you? Sometimes our inner voices have us throw temper tantrums; other times, parties and fun. Sometimes our inner voices lead us to be critical toward ourselves, other times, nurturing and encouraging.
We all have at least two voices within us: a child’s voice and a parent’s voice. The child within me bursts with passion and curiosity during the best times and expresses anger through crying and sometimes wailing during the worst times. The parental voice in me often says things like, “You are capable,” and, “You can achieve your goals.” However, my parental voice criticizes me when I don’t achieve the very best possible. I have a perfectionist tendency that creeps up in feeling self-conscious or anxious whenever I do, say, or think something “imperfect”. The more I let go of the need to be perfect, the more relaxed and easy-going I become. The child and parent voices within me are sometimes good, sometimes bad.
What do you value? What do your dearest values say about the voices from your past? Listen to both your inner child and your parental influences and learn from them.
Butler and Hope insist that we should learn what we most value. To do so, pay attention to both those things that fill you with joy and those things that make you feel defensive; usually, those things are one and the same. For me, when someone, like a supportive parent, says I can achieve a goal, I burst with joy; on the other hand, when someone, like a critical parent, tells me my goals are too lofty and unachievable, I feel deep-rooted resentment. The intensity of my reaction reveals a lot about my past. For instance, goal-driven behavior is essential to my happiness, and the bigger the goal the better. In my past, my goal of achieving a Ph.D was discouraged by others: deemed “too lofty” and “impossible.”
But never let another person discourage you from your dreams?only you are responsible for the goals you achieve and the goals you give-up on. So, if you have a critical parent voice from your past, change it up to a nurturing voice and get on with your goals.
Being a friend to yourself leads to less unfinished business.