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How to Improve Your Relationships With Those Surrounding You

How to Improve Your Relationships With Those Surrounding You

A key part human existence is the ability to build meaningful relationships over the years. There will be points in your life where you encounter hardships, betrayals, or disappointments. It happens sometimes with friendships, with family, co-workers, and just about any other group. How you react to and execute decisions really has an impact on the result. It is truly about learning to channel your own emotions, feelings, perceptions, and energies to better harness the law of attraction that influences our ability to move forward.

So, how can the “law of attraction” be explained? Everything you think about on a regular basis in your mind translates to flows of energies. According to Wikipedia, the law of attraction is the name given to the maxim “like attracts like,” which in new thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. This definition is subject to objection, but the philosophy can be traced back to ancient texts and different religions (Hermeticism, New England transcendentalism, Bible and Hinduism).

The first mentions of the law of attraction in the form of what we think or wish upon the universe can be found in beginnings of human civilization. Below is a list of the thinkers, philosophers, and proponents that echoed the so-called theory:

  • “Likes tend toward likes.” — Greek Philosopher Plato
  • “We are all the ephemeral forms of a consciousness greater than ourselves.” — Philosopher V. Stenger´s paper Cosmic Mind
  • “Thought vibration or the law of attraction in the thought world.” — William Walker Atkinson
  • “…Positive thinking is a strong and consistent predictor of life satisfaction.” — Ji Young Jung Yonsei Medical Journal Paper

So, basically everything that we think about exerts an influence upon us. One of the first pillars to improving any situation — in particular, getting rid of toxic friendships or relationships — is acknowledging the problem. The other difficult task to master is not making excuses and instead taking action to remedy the problem.

How to Execute These Ten Golden Relationship Rules

Keep in mind that this recommended list is by no means definitive or tantamount to 10 commandments for relationships to work perfectly (source: UK Cupid).

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  1. Love each other.
  2. Open lines of communication.
  3. Respect for each other.
  4. Honesty is the best policy.
  5. Sacrifices.
  6. Compromising.
  7. Conflict resolution.
  8. Give space when needed.
  9. Maintain the element of surprise.
  10. Remind the other person why you chose them.

Independent of your background, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic level, or any other factor, everything should come down to how much you love each other. This feeling or sentiment is recognized in any four corners of the globe. In addition, the lines of communication are crucial and it is better to maintain a high degree of transparency to build everlasting trust.

The third point is one of the essential, if not the most important, aspects of a relationship: respect. Without this, no relationship of any kind can really evolve in a healthy manner. By extension, honesty goes hand in hand with open lines of communication and it is better to tell the truth.

When you give up something, no matter the cost or worth, you are building a lifetime partnership. This opens a smooth transition to the step of compromising and making exchanges that satisfy both parties invested in the relationship.

Nevertheless, conflicts will occur at any point of the relationship. Conflicts sometimes show up in the early phases or at a later stage when getting to know someone. So it is best when a tense argument erupts to have each person walk away and reconvene when moods are settled down. There is nothing worse than saying fowl or mean things in the heat of the moment — you will regret it later. Think long and hard before uttering painful words at the other person.

Chances are, if you have reached item eight on the list, that it is easier from there onward. Co-existing with a lifelong partner requires a lot of work and a sense of renewing the relationship, so allow for the other person to engage in separate activities with others. This helps remove saturation and a sense of routine or boredom with each other.

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Whenever appropriate, plan beyond traditional relationship holidays like Valentine’s Day or an anniversary celebration. Sure you want to keep those days in mind, yet leave plenty of room for spontaneous events. This helps build a sense of adventure and timeliness for any relationship. Remind each other in reasonable amounts why you are with each other in the first place.

Here is a visual graphic to recap how to keep relationships fresh.

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    Five Ways to Maintain Healthy Friendships

    One of the most difficult things to do is to get rid of negative influences. We know deep down when a friend or an acquaintance brings trouble or drama into our lives. Sometimes, we have to clean out our closets to have a fresh start.

    Remember when trying to make new friends or maintain existing ones you must accept that not all friendships will be perfect or perhaps even last. People come and go, so nothing is permanent in this life. It is cruel to say, but if you look at the big picture, you will realize which people make a difference in your life.

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    Here are five helpful tips asserted by Psychology Today to maintain long-term friendships:

    1. Be honest.
    2. Repair misattunements.
    3. Make time and who appreciation.
    4. Alter your expectations and do not make assumptions
    5. Choose compassion over cynicism.

    Some of these tips overlap with the good practices of maintaining a relationship. In a nutshell, be sincere with your lifelong or best friend. If there was or is a falling out, remember we all make mistakes and we must learn to forgive.

    If you are friends with people who have existing relationships or are married, make time to meet up. Just because you have settled down does not mean your friends are forgotten forever. Agree with your partner and make time in your busy schedule to do something with your own friends so you reinforce those bonds of friendships.

    The way your friends act is beyond your control. Give up the idea of reshaping people — not everyone evolves in the same fashion you do. Appreciate who they are and how they came into your life. Last, and not the very least, give compassion a priority over cynicism. It has been show that from as young as the age of two, people come to enjoy seeing others getting help. Compassion is its own reward, and when you share this onto others, you will associate with people who share those same values and bring joy to your life.

    Takeaways and Conclusions

    When you are surrounded by healthy friendships and a stable relationship, everything comes together. When you are around likeminded people who share the same compassionate views and principles, it becomes a win-win situation for all the parties involved.

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    When a relationship is based on superficiality or some inherent material interest, things will result in failure. None of these tips for friendships or golden rules for relationships is the perfect remedy to fixing everything wrong with your surroundings. It is a guide to encourage you to reflect, to become more self-aware of your purpose, and to think about what role certain forces govern in your life. We all must come to grips with managing the good and the bad aspects on this road of life.

    Sometimes, we will come to know solitude and isolation. We all know that sinking feeling. It is really about knowing who you are, learning to be comfortable with yourself, choosing friendships and relationships carefully, and finding your calling.

    Featured photo credit: Felipe Bastos via flickr.com

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    Anthony Carranza

    Multilingual writer and journalist covering all things technology and productivity.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

    How to Listen to Your Gut

    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

    1. Tune Into Your Body

    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

    7. Trust Yourself

    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

    The Bottom Line

    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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