1. Release the need to fix other people
There is a difference between to fixing, helping and serving people. When we want to fix people, it implies they are broken. When we feel compelled to help someone, it implies that we are stronger or more powerful than they are in whatever area we are helping them with, creating a power over or under dynamic. When we are serving people, we are coming from a place of wholeness. When we see others as whole, we do not need to fix them. We allow our whole (imperfect) selves to connect with their whole (imperfect) self, and all parts are welcome.
2. Release the need to be right
Do you want real connection or do you want to be right? When we insist on being right all the time, we put more energy into guarding our position than listening and trying to understand the perspective of the other person. When we release the need to be right, we open ourselves up to truly listen to, and hear, the other person’s point of view. This practice is game-changing because most people just want to be seen, heard and valued for who they are.
3. Release the need to control other people’s emotions
Have you ever found yourself feeling uncomfortable with someone else’s “difficult” emotions? When people feel sad or mad, it’s common to rush in and try to shift their emotions. People say, “don’t cry”, “calm down”, “it will be okay”, “it’s for the best” or some other placating phrase. When we try to manage other people’s emotions that make us feel uncomfortable, we are invalidating their experience and shutting them down versus opening them up.
4. Release the need for approval or permission from others
Do you feel like you need to get other people’s approval or permission to do or say something? Many of us have been conditioned to seek validation for our sense of worth from other people. It may have begun by getting accolades for our academic, artistic, or athletic achievements. It may have been a way to get attention and/or affection from loved ones. Over time, it can become a pattern of behavior that keeps us externally focused and making choices about what we say and do based on how other people will perceive us. When we shift the focus to make decisions from our own sense of approval, we take our power back and own the responsibility for our decisions.
5. Release judgment of yourself and others
Have you ever felt critical of someone or received criticism from them? The amount of judging people engage in, whether targeted at themselves or other people, can be seen as a measure of how much resistance they have to accepting themselves. If someone is judging themselves, they may be engaging in the approval seeking behavior mentioned above or they may be limiting themselves by buying into the idea that they are not good enough, or smart enough or fill-in-the-blank enough to ask for what they really want. When they judge others, sometimes the thing they criticize in others is a part of themselves they have labeled bad or unacceptable and pushed it out of their consciousness. Imagine what would be different if instead of judging that thing, they leaned into it instead.
By releasing these things, you are creating space to simply be with the other person. Within this space, you can be present with the other person with an open heart and mind. No hidden agenda. No need for control or manipulation. This allows for true connection and communication to occur.
Try this 1 minute exercise:
Engage in a 1 minute conversation with your partner, close friend or family member. Do not say anything for the whole minute. Just listen. After the minute, thank them for sharing. Do not offer advice, a solution or try to shift their mood. Just let them have whatever feelings and thoughts they express and hold space for them.
Notice how you feel. What is going on in your body – is it tight, relaxed, hot, cold? How do you feel? Interested, bored, curious, mad, sad, glad? Did you hold your attention the entire time? Was it easy or hard to do?
Go back to the list of 5 ways to improve your relationship and see if applying any of these will make an immediate difference for you and your relationship. Check all that apply.
- Release the need to fix other people
- Release the need to be right
- Release the need to control other people’s emotions
- Release the need for approval or permission from others
- Release judgment of yourself and others
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