This last year I made a significant effort in improving my life. Doing so has led me to do things like, create this blog, take risks, develop passion, and get a clearer direction of my future. The most powerful benefit from this endeavor has been the improved relationships, with my husband, family, friends (the past, present, old & new) and even colleagues, acquaintances, and strangers.
Not long ago, I would have likely blamed other for a sour experience in a relationship. Often I would sulk, feeling sorry for myself because I could not get someone to do something my way, blaming them for my unhappiness. It was not until I started taking full responsibility for my actions and happiness when things started to change. Once doing so, miraculously the change I was looking for in others became, and I did not have to ask anyone to do anything.
This week Marc Chernoff, of popular blog Marc & Angel HACK LIFE, discussed how to take responsibility for yourself in relationships. In his blog post, “8 Ways To Be Emotionally Strong In Your Relationships“, he provides readers with tips to develop emotional strength. Below I listed these tips and elaborated on how I have used them to my advantage. (His tips in bold, my response in italics).
Sit by yourself for 20 minutes each day, without a phone, tablet, TV or other distraction. Look inside – meditate. Notice your thoughts as they come up. Get to know your mind. See how fascinating it is, as you jump from one thought to the next. This in itself is an infinite source of entertainment and learning.
Meditation does not come easily to me. I have tried getting up daily before dawn to meditate prior to anything else. I have tried laying in bed, the moment I awake. I have tried guided meditations, walking meditations, yoga, even meditating in the sauna. I do think meditation and time to yourself without distraction is helpful, but for me, I have to do it whichever way suits me best that day. I have trouble focusing, and I can not say anything amazing has transformed (yet) from meditation, however, the extra volt of energy and taking time for just me is a small reward.
Create something – come up with ideas for building something from the ground up and then do it – a poem, a painting, a song, an action plan, a business, etc. You don’t need anyone to do those things, and they give you added insight into your own abilities and passions.
Your reading it. When I decided to start this blog (officially), I had something to look forward to every day. When my husband says he is going to golf during the weekend, I think to myself, “great, I’ll work on the blog“. In the past, I would have been annoyed he was not available to spend time with me. This has been a hobby for me to enjoy. The ideas and aspirations I have developed because of this space continue to ignite me daily.
Curiosity is a boundless source of happiness for most people. Exercise it. Explore. Travel. Educate yourself. Read good books. Deepen your knowledge base on topics you enjoy.
Again, I decided to engage in all types of self-development information. I got curious about human communication, happiness, and authenticity. The time spent learning about these topics, lead me to practice them in my own life. They are subjects I am passionate about and never get old.
Talk yourself through your own problems. Find a solution. If you’re bored, fix it. If you are lonely or hurt, comfort yourself. If you’re jealous, don’t hope that someone will reassure you … reassure yourself.
Oh, this is a hard one. I wrote about establishing independence before, and in doing so, I have learned not to ask my husband for everything. I have taken it upon myself to solve my own problems, find my way, and tell him what I have done, rather than ask him how to do it. I am proud, he is proud. I am happy. I may still go to him from time to time, but I have learned to at least attempt to solve my own problems first.
Take responsibility. If you find yourself blaming others, tell yourself that the other person is never the problem. Of course, you can choose to believe the other person is the problem, but then you are dependent on them for a solution. If you believe that they aren’t the problem, then you are able to look inside yourself for the solution.
This is probably the most important tip. I have learned when something goes array in a relationship, to ask myself “What did I do?”. Reflecting on my actions leads to a solution. Even if that solution is as simple as asking for forgiveness.
If you find yourself complaining, instead find a way to be grateful.
This tip is also very valuable. It is easy to complain. I can always find something to complain about. But you know what? I can always find more to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude has been huge for me and my happiness. This tool has been awesome.
If you find yourself being needy, instead find a way to give. If you find yourself wanting someone to help you, help yourself.
I have been practicing my listening skills. I tend to be a talker. I think my talking tendencies come from a place of wanting attention. Rather than doing so much talking, I have been trying to listen more. By listening more, I have had people open up to me in ways I had never expected. Constantly others thank me for listening. It is important to feel heard, and not enough people feel validated this way. Giving back to another is the biggest reward of all and quickest way to feel good again.