How many #RelationshipGoals have you developed but find yourself in the same disconnected rut? Many of us have this vision of the partner, friend, parent, or spouse that we want for ourselves, yet for some reason that vision starts to feel more like a daydream. Sustaining, maintaining, and fostering a lasting connected relationship is difficult. I mean just think about this, focusing on your day to day life and emotions, while attempting to care and support other's emotional experiences and life. Do you get the visual of the person on the unicycle attempting to balance the dishes all while some lucky person just throws on more dishes? Well I do!
Despite the difficulty it takes to foster and keep lasting connected relationships, it can be done. The first step is taking an internal assessment and build a connected relationship with yourself. The relationship that you have with your emotional creates a deeper and lived understanding of connection. This lived understanding gives you the courage, knowledge, and strength that is needed healthy lasting relationships. When building a connection with yourself, the skill of self-awareness is developed. This is the foundation needed to reach any of your #RelationshipGoals.
In order to strengthen your ability to be self-aware pay attention to the list below. Use this list to reflect and evolve.
- Be honest to yourself and with yourself. First we all know that honesty is the best policy, but if you can't be honest to you, you'll never be honest with others. Truth and trust is the glue needed to keep a relationship strong. During the process of learning about ourselves or becoming self-aware, we tend to dismiss, excuse, or ignore any qualities deemed unfavorable. STOP IT!!! Gain a bit of courage, face the qualities head on, and explore them. Which leads to the next step.
- Explore how those qualities impact your relationship interactions. This is the time to use that honesty you acquired and think about positive and negative interactions those qualities were present. How did the qualities make the interaction positive? How did they make the interactions negative. What behaviors did you display due to those qualities?
- Discover your instinctual/bodily responses during moments of disconnection. How did your body respond to the negative interactions. Were your palms sweaty, heart beating fast, stomach churning? These are ways that your body is telling you to run far away, freeze and do absolutely nothing, fight (physically or verbally). Many times we ignore the other messages our body is sending in order to "get over it". Unfortunately for this type of thinking only makes the response come back another time. Listen to your body. Take a moment, listen, and explore. Ask yourself "what is happening to me right now?" Then try to describe the experience in detail. I know this is not too easy right now, it will be the more you do it.
- Build a profound emotional vocabulary. Having the correct words for our feelings can be challenging, especially when it comes to telling someone how we feel. In negative interactions the emotions never feel validated or understood, so we either stop talking or repeat ourselves. Sometimes the issue is the emotion words being shared are not matching the current internal emotional experience. The emotions that we initially share tend to be secondary emotions. These type of emotions serve the purpose of emotional protection. Angry, mad, frustrated, jealous, and resentful all push others away from us to defend ourselves from experiencing more emotional damage. Where as the primary emotions are softer emotions that draw others in; sadness, fear, confusion, disappointment, and love. The best way to know your emotions is to name them, starting at the secondary then thinking about the primary that could be a deeper fit. Example: You're frustrated. Think about the following: What am I frustrated about? What does this thing that I am frustrated about say about me as a person or my role with this person? What feeling(s) comes up when I hear that message (think about primary emotions)? How does that message impact my identity?
- Identify ways your responses to your emotions impact disconnection. Don't try to figure out "why" but rather "what" and "how". What does knowing that I feel this emotion mean about who I and all that I believe in? What did I do to express my emotions? How did that expression help in building connection and feeling connected?
The goal here is to understand your emotions more and to more become familiar with them. When we become familiar with our own emotions, other people's emotions won't be so difficult. Gaining self-awareness grounds the notion that the only emotions and behaviors you are responsible for are your own, no one else's. There is freedom in knowing, believing, and living this. This is called acceptance, which enables you to accept yourself and your emotions and make the necessary adjustments if you so desire. Acceptance also enables you to accept others for who they are and make the necessary interactions needed for the relationship.
Let me know your thoughts about your experiences with developing self-awareness. I wouldn't mind hearing about a few of your #RelationshipGoals.
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