Relationships are significant to all of us as the quality of our lives is determined by the people we surround ourselves with. Everything, from chances of smoking and anxiety to the likelihood of obesity and stress, passes through subconscious imitation of our relationships and network. Emotional mastery, clarity of expression, conflict resolution skills, and vulnerability are key features in building deep connections.
The last couple of years have been very trying for people across the globe; the pandemic has had a huge bearing on our relationships, as well. Whether it is relationships with friends, parents, siblings, children, coworkers, or the significant other, they have all been wedged during the pandemic. Research confirms that there has been a significant rise in anxiety, stress, substance abuse, domestic violence, separation&divorce cases in the last couple of years owing to the unprecedented conditions the pandemic got us into.
Apart from the uncertainties brought in by the pandemic, unhealthy relationship habits are central to the issue at hand. With a lack of coping skills & mismatched expectations on the rise, there is gloom, trauma, nagging, sulking, bickering, and chaos in many intimate relationships. The relationship dynamics need to be based more on healthy giving and receiving instead of controlling and hurting. Love, compassion, appreciation, gratitude, and authenticity go a long way in building a strong foundation in any relationship.
With a rise in strained relationships, it is imperative we focus on taking responsibility and nurturing relationships instead of allowing them to collapse. Even when times change, the one inherent thing we all look for is love & acceptance. It is pertinent to work on our own triggers and our own relationship with ourselves, in order to be available for others with who we are in a relationship with.
Thrive in relationships instead of surviving by focussing on the following –
Take time and reflect on your emotional triggers from a particular moment, before you lash out at others. Quit the blame game & process your emotions before you react.
Be authentic and use effective yet respectful communication while setting healthy boundaries. Learn not to overcommit, help when you can and say no to things you can’t take up. These help in setting the right expectations and help in cultivating healthy relationships.
Cement your connection through tasks, activities, rituals, and experiences that you can do together. On days you don’t find enough time, find small happy moments for connection – it could be eating meals together or even going to bed at the same time. Make your relationship a priority by spending quality time together while keeping all other tasks and even cellphones away.
Listen to your partner in order to connect, understand, and hold the space for them by being present without judgments, sarcasm, blaming or nagging, and exerting control.
Share your concerns with your loved ones especially your partner; let them know what is happening in your life instead of suffering and snapping. Even if they can’t help you, they will be able to hold a safe space to comfort you as you decipher your way out. This helps in strengthening trust in relationships and building strong connections.
Be mindful of the language you use. Your language, tone, and pitch along with the nonverbal cues, influence your partner’s response and behavior. Is your language respectful, encouraging, uplifting, and compassionate?
Comparison with others is toxic as it traps us into a lack mindset thereby causing resentment towards our people. Develop your own relationships based on what works for you. Practice gratitude, develop ways to nurture each other, focus on what’s working instead of what isn’t, and celebrate all big and small moments together.
Don’t question your partner’s love or intent as it rips off trust and compassion from the relationship. Having issues doesn’t mean the relationship itself is a problem. Communicate your needs and find ways to make things work in a blissful environment instead of attacking each other and concluding that nothing will ever work.
Practice self-compassion & indulge in self-care to keep your mind rejuvenated. Focus on the big picture – enabling your relationship to thrive while leading a healthy & fulfilling life. Build bridges, don’t burn them.
Seek help from experts in case of extreme conflict and lack of coping skills. This helps in building support, clear communication, trust, respect, boundaries, and strengthening relationships. This also contributes to overall physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Building healthy relationships may come with its share of baggage and effort, however, it is worth it all. Even the most estranged relationships can be united through conscious effort and love as the underlying forces. Show the love and care in your actions and not just your words. Reaffirm commitment, surprise your loved ones, and most importantly, be available for them. Our interactions with ourselves and others influence the quality of our relationships so focus on the same as you create loving relationships around.
(By Dr. Chandni Tugnait, a psychotherapist, life and business coach, and founder-director of Gateway of Healing.)