Thoughts on Relationships

What is it that goes through our minds and hearts during the month of February?  For most of us, we once again begin to think about Valentine’s Day.  For some, this means planning a special night out for our partner; for others it may be a time of assessing  our love life.  Wherever you are emotionally at this time of year, I would like to send out a reminder that healthy relationships are sometimes hard work and often begin with self improvement.

For most of us, as we consider relationships we tend to think of them as something that should bring us joy, peace, and relaxation.  This of course IS true, but we often forget that the best things in life come as a result of some work on our part.  Hopefully, most of us come to realize that the only person we can change on this earth is guess who?  That’s right…ourselves.  We have control over no one but ourselves.  When we finally accept this truth, we for the first time begin to realize that change begins internally.  Sometimes this might mean ending an unhealthy relationship.  Other times this might mean making  healthier choices within our relationships.  When I counsel couples, I often begin with assessing individuals’ love for themselves, as most of us in the counseling field know that without loving ourselves, we are certainly not going to find happiness through another person.  Sure, we may do so temporarily but it typically will not last.  Instead, we come to realize that no one person on this earth can meet all of our needs or fulfill all of our dreams.  We learn that a healthy relationship is a process of yes, receiving love from another but also in giving from ourselves as well.  Therefore, in beginning the quest of improving a relationship, I challenge you to begin with yourself.  Often, when we begin to make changes within, we begin to notice others around us making changes as well.  Consider the following three tips: 

  1.         Learn to empathize:  empathy is simply the process of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes…truly seek to understand others
  2.        Learn that the message sent is not always the message received by another…seek to improve your communication
  3.        Practice stress management daily,  for as you improve your own happiness you in turn effect the happiness within your relationships…seek daily to exercise, practice mindfulness, learn the art of meditation

Rob Taylor, MS, LPC

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