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How to Tell If You Are Fostering Positive Relationships in Life

How to Tell If You Are Fostering Positive Relationships in Life

Creating friendships and relationships were much simpler when we were younger. It had more to do with who was in your proximity at that specific time in your life and sharing common experiences.

As we grow older, our paths begin to divert and we adjust to the rhythm which life is moving, and often times we find our relationships changing with it.

A huge part of life is cultivating relationships not only with family and friends, but in all aspects including romantic partners, work colleagues, and even within ourselves. As adults, it gets harder to keep up with our inner circles when we have a family to take care of, a career that’s developing, and living day to day. To foster positive relationships, you must first accept that sometimes certain relationships change, but fostering and maintaining the positive ones is how to achieve more in life.

Here are ways to check and see if you are cultivating positive relationships in all areas of your life by assessing and asking:

1. Assess Your Big Five

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn, once said,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Instead of reflecting on just five, take it one step further by reflecting on the five people you spend the most time with in different areas of your life – personal, work, and family.

A great starting point is seeing how present you are in that very moment.

For example, you decide to grab coffee with a long-time friend whom you catch up every couple of months. During the conversation, do you find yourself checking your phone every five minutes or going through a list of things you could be doing instead? If so, it may be time to see how much value you’re getting from this particular relationship.

Some relationships overgrow one another throughout time, and that’s completely normal. As selfish it may sound, your time is just as valuable.

2. Listen to the Way You Converse with Others

Have you ever taken a moment to listen to how you carry conversations with your friends, family, partner, and most importantly – yourself? Sometimes we get caught up in storytelling, that we don’t pay much attention to the language that we’re using or how we’re using it.

  • Are you present and attentive when you’re having dinner with your family?
  • Are you on your phone when you’re having date night with your partner?
  • Do you spend your lunch breaks listening to workplace gossip?

Check-in with how you feel when these conversations are occurring. Part of fostering positive relationships means making sure you feel good when you have them because it’s the experience we feel on a daily basis that shapes our days ahead.

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If you notice that you’re surrounded by negativity, try distancing yourself with those or try shifting the conversation towards a different direction. If you’re noticing you are on your phone during family time, dive a little deeper and see what is capturing your attention and why.

Sometimes the answer lies not only where you are at that specific moment, but where your mind is.

3. Listen to How You Converse with Yourself

There are important conversations we have daily, but the most important ones are the conversations we have with ourselves. It may surprise you how we speak to ourselves compared to how we speak to others. Often times we’re harder, more unforgiving, and critical, which can affect the relationships we have with those around us.

Everyone goes through negative self-talk, but it comes down to how loud that voice becomes. There are great consequences that come from negative self-talk that then creates a poor self-image of ourselves. That image also affects our relationships.

  • “I’m not good enough to be with anyone and that’s why I’m single.”
  • “I’m not a decent friend and that why I never get invited anywhere.”
  • “I’m a horrible worker and that is the reason why I never get a promotion.”

Would these be things you tell a friend? Probably not. So why have these conversations with yourself? Your inner vibrations and feelings always flows outwards and is what attracts those to you.

4. Do We Share Core Values?

The older we get, it can get harder to make friends – good friends, too. When we were younger, the common bonding ground stemmed off favorite television shows and school sports. But as we continue to develop careers, have families, and expand our growth both mentally and physically, it may be hard to keep up with our inner circle, let alone ourselves.

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It’s not distance that keeps people and relationships apart, but the differences in core values. As humans, we seek mental company over physical company, and this becomes more prominent when we’re older.

Sharing core values go beyond having a friend who shares the common liking of eating at a particular restaurant or taking a spin class once a week together; it’s sharing that core value of wanting to put fitness and health as a priority or enjoying the challenge of committing to an activity.

Keep in mind that not all core values have to overlap. Having different values and ideas also foster positive relationships.

5. Invest in Friendships That Grow Through Life

I have a healthy long-distance friendship with my roommate from college because we make it a point to check-in often. Whether it’s a quick five minutes on Facetime or sending each other a picture that reminded us of that person, checking in even during life’s busiest days help bring bursts of energy throughout the day – especially for long distance relationships from opposite sides of the world.

So much has changed since college, but having that timeless relationship has created a stronger bond without forced catch-up sessions and guilty apologizing for not making enough time. It’s a mutual understanding that time has changed and growing with it rather than resisiting it.

6. Look into How You’re Feeling at Work

Having healthy and positive relationships with work colleagues is always ideal, but we all know this isn’t the case.

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First and foremost, ask yourself if you like what you are doing, better yet, if “you’re feeling good at work.”[1] Believe it or not, it all stems down to your emotions and the energy you give off that will either attract your coworkers to you or push them away from you. Would you want to invite Negative Nancy to coffee and listen to her complain about all her customers? Probably not.

Like every other aspect in life, you have to enjoy where you are spending 40 hours of your time and with whom. If you’re feeling good at work, you’ll feel more aligned and in tuned with those around you that lead to healthier relationships.

7. Treat a Relationship Like a Partnership

Your partner has probably seen the worst and the best parts of you – every part of you that makes you human. In all relationships, there are highs and lows. There are moments when the romance may feel fizzled or be caught up in knotted tension, and moments when euphoria takes over and the both of you are unstoppable.

A part of having a positive relationship means having healthy arguments . If you’re able to have a disagreement without yelling and screaming, while taking two steps back to figure out the problem together – then you’re on the right track. Here are some things to keep in mind during a heated argument:

  • Are you still putting your partner first even during disagreements?
  • Are you looking for a solution, rather than a safe way out?
  • Are you able to place your pride aside in the meantime?

Fostering a positive relationship means understanding the situation from the other person’s perspective, while coming up with a solution together.

Final Thoughts

The lessons we learn in our personal and professional lives reflect on how we communicate with others. It helps us grow, understand, and assess the value that we are bringing into all our relationships, and in return add value to those relationships. All it takes is a few moments of checking-in with others as well as yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The New York Times: How Many Work Friends Do You Really Need?

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Akina Chargualaf

Akina Chargualaf is an entrepreneur, writer, and the content creator of travel and personal development blog Finding Fifth.

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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