What it takes to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
One of the most popular topics that people come to me about is relationships. After all, the quality of our lives is very much determined by the quality of the relationships we have with ourselves and others. I will start this by saying exactly what I do in my private sessions. You can not change anyone else. It’s important to acknowledge what is in your control and what is not. Ultimately, you can not force change within your loved one, you can however do your own work and come from a place of understanding, compassion, and assertion. We will get on to that in a moment.
So let’s talk about what a healthy relationship is. I have popped a list below however consider whether you have any additions to make.
I think that most of us know what a healthy relationship looks like on paper however putting it into practice is an entirely different thing. Made harder by the fact that we are often unaware of why we do what we do and feel the way we feel. In fact, so many go about life believing that our opinions, values, beliefs are true above all others. Doing so without considering the parts that we play and/or the fact that we may be wrong sometimes. Come to think about it, who decides what is right and wrong? Realistically it is all just a collection of individual perceptions. Anyway, I digress.
So when I say we have to work on our own stuff what do I mean? We all have a very unique perspective of life, we have had different experiences, with different guardians, in different family dynamics. It makes sense then that the way in which we approach communication, conflict, and the picture that we have in our minds of what a relationship looks like is completely unique. When any two people come together to form a relationship we are coming at it from two very different directions. No matter how compatible we are there will be differences most poignantly when it comes to how we handle the negative emotions, the opposing values, and the triggering behaviours.
We have all witnessed the expression of our feelings in various ways. Some of us will have learned to hold back our thoughts to avoid conflict to then feel resentful and bitter. Others may have experienced angry lashings out with harsh words said that can’t be taken back. Some of our guardians will have fought to the death before admitting they were wrong and others would have received an apology. So many possibilities. From our unique experiences, we will have learned to communicate our feelings based on what was demonstrated to us in our most influential years (whether that be by doing the same or vowing to do the opposite).
In order for us to communicate in a healthy manner within our relationships, you first need to master :
- Self-awareness. For example, as a child, I often witnessed arguments going unresolved. There would be a huge uproar and then radio silence for things to return to normal as though nothing had happened. Only it had and it was obvious by the passive aggression and resentment in the air. This became my
own go-to when upset, even for situations far removed from what I had experienced. For example, someone pushing in a queue infront of me. Internally I was furious but I would say nothing, walking away raging for the rest of the day, mostly at myself for my inaction. Why did I not say anything? Because I didn’t know how to express how I felt, I feared the uproar and the conflict. I feared the potential fist being punched through the door or in the face. It was only when I became aware of the fears behind my silence that I recognized that this was no longer a threat. My brain was wired to see any potential conflict as a serious threat to my safety and it did what it had observed to stay safe over and over again. With intimate partners, with my children, with some stranger at a supermarket.
Become objectively aware of how you are feeling, evaluate your emotions and whether your response is appropriate, align your behavior with your values.
- Heal the old wounds that are keeping you stuck. One of my own biggest downfalls was always believing that I was right and in doing so never really listening to understand. I was always just waiting for my turn to respond often taking things out of context and off-topic. There are many beliefs sat behind such behavior. When I evaluated my beliefs behind my difficulty admitting fault was fear. Fear of judgement, fear of punishment, fear that I wasn’t good enough. All of the years I had operated from that belief without realising it. People call this kind of thing a ‘toxic trait’. It’s a coping mechanism developed in stressful situations that you can overcome. People are not ‘toxic’.
It takes two entire, whole people to create a healthy balanced relationship.
I’ve been there, the early days of a relationship, and just so desperate for the other person to need me.
hobbies were their hobbies, the music I loved was what they loved, my friendships, no longer a priority because they were my world.
he why was the realization that I had set a bar that this would now be expected from me for all time. Even worse, I felt guilty for not being able to provide it whilst also being resentful. I had a deep desire to be taken care of on a very subconscious level, it was a need that had gone unmet in me from childhood.
I remember years ago an ex of mine saying that my attitude to indiscretions was ‘how dare you’. That comment stuck with me however up until more recently I didn’t understand it, he was right.
I would sacrifice, give so much of myself up, dedicate myself so obsessively that I felt as though I kept nothing back for me. To the point of resentment. To the point that I felt I could control how I would be treated. I genuinely believed that if I did so no one would ever leave or betray me. I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong. Of course we are all furious when a partner doesn’t love us in the way that we feel we deserve but when we overgive and leave nothing for ourselves not only do we become incredibly resentful but we find it so much harder to leave. When our lives have become an extension of there’s what have we left to turn to? We no longer have a life outside of them.
I can not express how important your own support network, hobbies, money and goals is.
If you struggle with weak boundaries I recommend watching my workshop on how to say no which covers much more than the title suggests. You can watch that here – Video
We have all been here, let’s be honest. There are no solutions to be found when everyone is avoiding responsibility however we still do it. Blame shifting, avoidance, pointing the finger.
I used to live in the woe is me mentality, I’ve seen it in my partner when he was in a low place. I don’t want to belittle you for doing so, I know the struggle. I can’t encourage you enough to shift from that place.
For years I would blame my life circumstances on my past, on my partners, on the fact that I was born unlucky.
For years I went without ever taking responsibility for any problems in my relationships. No matter the issue, it was ‘their’ fault. Until one day I had an epiphany read here
Why is it so hard to take responsibility for actions and admit when we are wrong?
For all of the reasons I have listed here it is perfectly natural and normal, especially when you have experienced punishment for making mistakes in the past. (Note to parents). How were mistakes handled with when you were a child?
On my journey of self-forgiveness, I did pretty well until it came to forgive the mistakes I had made as a mother. Most particularly because I was aware of how the mistakes of my own parents had shaped me. I was an angry mother. Fulithin my relationships. I feared rejection or abandonment should I ‘nag’ or ‘complain’. I struggled with difficult conversations. In honesty I never spoke my truth to anyone and so I was a bundle of angry, resentful anxiety. As such my anger was expressed towards the only people in my life that felt safe. My children. I am still deeply saddened by this. If I was angry with my partner, it was directed towards them. For some, it is their friends, their parents, whoever feels safest and loves them unconditionally. It’s sad but so true.
If that safe person is your partner, when the rest of the world fucks you off, he will be your vent.
Do yourself and everyone a favour and find ways that help you to let of steam.
Don’t wait until you are in the moment. That is too late. Plan it now. l of repressed expression and frustration. As mentioned above I never fully expressed myself w
My number one advice after doing the work, the inner work that I mention above is to get clear on your expectations.
What do you want out of a relationship?
What is and isn’t acceptable?
What would you like out of your future?
How would you like to be treated?
For example –
- Healthy communication
- Healthy conflict
- Individual identities and respect of
- Mutual support
- Fighting fair
- Anger control
- Taking responsibility
- Safe space to be yourself
- Shared goals
Get clear on what it is you want so that you can put it into play. So many people I work with are looking for something they haven’t yet defined.
You can watch my full workshop on this very topic below!
When I do my weekly card pull in my free group there is always a message regarding intuition and I understand why.
Many of us in the group have learned not to trust our intuition, not to tune into it, not to value it.
I will give you an example. When you experience a domineering parent or an abusive guardian, your sense of ‘we are just as important as anyone else’ and ‘my opinion matters’ is overridden. Low self-esteem is the result.
‘I am not as worthy as others.’ You subconsciously tell yourself.
There are many other circumstances in which you will adopt this belief in childhood.
A belief that you genuinely believe to be true that over time you pass as fact.
You ignore your own internal navigation system time and time again because you have come to believe that you aren’t reliable or trustworthy. Others know better.