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You Don’t Have To Be In A Relationship To Be Happy, You Just Need To Understand Yourself

You Don’t Have To Be In A Relationship To Be Happy, You Just Need To Understand Yourself

Your life feels incomplete, so what’s the first thing that you do? You start looking for your perfect match, the person who can fill that big hole in your heart and change your life forever. You may feel like each relationship you try is a dead-end. There’s something dissatisfying about each of them, but you can’t give up. You’re afraid of being on your own because you’re afraid that you’re incapable of being happy on your own. In reality, being alone and learning to strengthen your relationship with yourself can be rewarding and liberating and will help you find true and lasting happiness.

What Feeling Alone Really Means

Feeling alone isn’t always synonymous with being alone. Most of us have experienced the feeling of loneliness when we’re with family, friends, or even a partner. On the flip side, sometimes we’ve felt content and connected when we were on our own. You’ve probably felt an aching sense of loneliness at the most unlikely times and wondered, how could I feel this way? The answer? You may not feel understood or loved by the people around you at that moment. You feel like they aren’t giving you something you need.

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Here’s the punchline: they may have nothing to do with it! Your loneliness may be stemming from your lack of love and understanding for yourself.

How Learning to Be Alone Can Enrich Your Relationships

Solitude is a powerful tool that can strengthen you and your relationship with others.[1] People often underestimate its value. Because of suburban living, there are many who experience solitude very rarely and to whom the idea of being alone for a long period of time is a foreign concept. In most relationships, one or both of the people involved feels like they need to get their sense of identity from the other and that their partner is responsible for making sure they don’t feel alone. This is unrealistic and unreasonable.

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The best relationships are formed between people who are totally comfortable and happy by themselves, but who choose to be with someone else because they love them. By learning to be alone, you can become more whole as a person, making every aspect of your life, including any relationships, indescribably better.

Learning to Understand Yourself

You may be thinking that all of this is easier said than done. That’s understandable. We all have a certain amount of programming and bad habits in our brains that can sometimes make change difficult. But we are nothing if not flexible. There are several things you can start doing right now that will help you to understand yourself and maybe even enjoy your own company.

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  • Go on quiet walks on your own in nature. Nature puts us in tune with our mind and body and relieves depression.[2] Enjoying nature for a little while every day can help you feel more content in being alone with yourself.
  • Journal. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re a good writer. In fact, don’t worry about what you’re writing about at all. Use the “stream of consciousness” technique.[3] Journaling can be a great way to vent and relieve tension and can help you reach a better understanding of your own mind. You needn’t devote much time to this activity unless it feels right. Five to ten minutes should suffice.
  • Use art of any kind. Whether it’s music, painting, or just coloring, art is an invaluable tool to help you connect with your deeper self in a more meaningful level. Many people use coloring to put their mind into a meditative or calm state when traditional meditation doesn’t work for them.
  • Meditate. Meditating is probably one of the most tried and true methods to help you gain a deeper understanding and love for yourself. Just remember if it’s your first time, not to be discouraged if you can’t completely relax into a meditation.[4]

The key to a happy life isn’t a happy relationship. The trick is to realize that you’re beautiful, wonderful, and whole all by yourself. Take some time to get to know the wonderful being that is you. The only side effects are increased happiness and health!

Featured photo credit: Karen Warfel via pixabay.com

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Marina Richter

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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