Simply put: relationships can be hard. They require work and fine-tuning, they change and evolve, and they may end and start again. However, they also provide us with comfort, love, connection and a sense of belonging. Relationships allow us to connect with others in intimate and deep ways. They allow us to grow individually, in dyads or in groups. Relationships are the foundation for our day, and how we interact with others.
When it comes to creating, strengthening and maintaining relationships, there is a lot to keep up with. We live in a busy world, where communication can be short and fast, and time is something we don’t often have a lot of. So how do you keep your relationships strong while still being true to yourself? Also, in this busy day and age how do you attend to your relationships when you have so much else going on? There is a lot to consider and to think about. Here are some tips on ways you can strengthen and maintain your current relationships:
1) Make time
I know, I know, time is the last thing you have right now. We live in a fast-paced world. Creating time can be a challenge. But just listen to me here, what if you scheduled the time in? Open your calendar, find one night/afternoon/day that works, and block it off. You’re more likely to keep that time free if you write in on your calendar. I’m very guilty of saying I will take the time off, and then not doing it because something else came up. Now I block off time for everything. Date night: blocked. Yoga: blocked. Blog writing: blocked. It has helped me prioritize my relationships and my work.
This one word can mean a myriad of things. To start there’s nonverbal and verbal communication, and then within both of those there are several more ways to communicate. When able, I believe that communicating in person is the strongest way to strengthen a relationship. You’re able to read more nonverbal cues, and you’re better able to understand tone in person. Sure, it may be easier and faster, and at times necessary to use technology, but I believe that face-to-face communication is the key to keeping relationships moving in a positive direction. We are able to see more and hear more in person, and it allows us to fully express ourselves. Talking in person allows us to take in the whole person (or people), and it allows us to see and hear things we may otherwise miss over the phone, computer, etc.
3) Be vulnerable
Be open. Be honest. This one is going to take some time, some strength, and some commitment. Being open and honest can be hard. However, it can also be very rewarding for all parties involved. Being vulnerable may create a bond that is more intimate than before. By practicing vulnerability, you are showing that you’re not perfect and that you may have stuff to work on. This in turn shows that you care enough about the other person to share your challenges throughout life. Again, being vulnerable, open, and honest can be a tough thing to do. It may require time and patience, but the benefits it brings could also be very rewarding.
There is a slow progression with the above steps. They’re not meant to be implemented all at once, so don’t feel pressured to jump right in. I would suggest you practice the above steps in succession, and take as much time as you need with each one. Again, relationships, can be hard, but sometimes it takes hard work to create amazing things.
Katie Oberton provides individual therapy that combines mindfulness techniques with traditional talk therapy to enhance the mind-body connection. Katie works from a client-centered perspective, keeping social justice and empowerment at the forefront of her work.
Katie Oberton is no longer practicing at Wellness Minneapolis. To connect with her please visit her website.