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5 Toxic Beliefs That Can End Any Relationship

5 Toxic Beliefs That Can End Any Relationship

Want to maximize the chances that your relationship will last? If you do, take an inventory of your relationship belief system. If you have a habit of carrying negative thought patterns into your romance, you could be sabotaging your prospects at everlasting love.

Here are the top five toxic beliefs that can end any relationship:

1. Believing your happiness is the responsibility of the of the other person.

When your partner does something hurtful, it is natural to want to blame them for your feelings of shock, anger and disappointment. Expressing and working through these emotions is the one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your relationship. However, if days, months, and years go on with you continuing to be miserable because you just can’t “let go” of what the other person did, your relationship is at serious risk.

While someone may have acted unkindly, disrespectfully or even abusively, ultimately, there is only one person responsible for your happiness. That person is you. There is power in taking responsibility for your own life’s happiness.

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Don’t give that power away to someone else, even your lover!

2. Believing your relationship should always be struggle and drama-free.

As a human, you are here to learn and grow so you can become fulfilled in your life. Growth, however, just isn’t possible without the occasional struggle. Your partner is one of the best people to help you work through your personal and relationship limits to realize the fullness of who you really are.

Why? Because that person loves you!

When things feel hopeless because of the relationship conflict you are experiencing, before you throw in the towel, consider these possibilities: (a) YOU could be wrong; (b) if you are right, the principle of the matter isn’t worth hanging onto for the sake of peace; (c) your partner’s behavior is a reflection of the way in which you have been treating them; and (d) just like you, your partner wants validation, security and love.

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By reframing your relationship growing pains, you will see conflict as the gift that it truly is.

3. Believing that once your trust has been broken, all hope is lost for your relationship.

At some point in your relationship, your partner will break their word to you. Whether you want to admit it or not, you will break your word to your partner, as well. These things do not make either of you “bad” people. They do not make you poor relationship material.

They simply make you human.

You will undoubtedly feel devastated when your life’s partner has broken your trust. While you should allow yourself to experience the range of emotions that you will, if you love the other person and want to save the relationship, you will do one thing for certain: have a conversation to try to comprehend what lead your partner to do what they did.

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There will be some situations where your partner doesn’t understand their own actions. In most cases, however, with honest communication, it is possible to comprehend the reasons “why” (although you may not agree with the behavior itself). Once you grasp the cause for your partner’s conduct, ask yourself how or whether you contributed to those actions.

If your own behavior was a contributing factor, consider whether the relationship is important enough to you (and it would be healthy for you) to consider changing your behavior…for the sake of love.

4. Believing that keeping secrets from your partner is lying or breaking their trust.

Do you hate being around your in-laws? If so, in the name of relationship integrity, do you need to share that fact with your partner every time you think about it? Absolutely not!

Sometimes saving your relationship actually depends on you not telling your lover about every thought that crosses your mind; not having a filter could subject your partner to thoughts which are fleeting and insignificant. However, in many cases, when constantly spoken, these unimportant thoughts permanently poison the soil from which contentment and trust bloom.

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When you are inclined to share something that could be hurtful to your partner, ask yourself whether the disclosure is necessary to preserve the continued well-being of the relationship. If it isn’t, consider keeping the secret to yourself.

5. Believing that work, children and friends are all more important than time spent on your relationship.

Once the hormone-infused “honeymoon” is over, for individuals in a relationship, they get back to the business of life. For you, that could mean immersing yourself in your work, your children, your hobbies and your friends. It is all too easy to allow your partner to sink to the lowest priority in trying to juggle these competing interests. The sustained lack of focus on a relationship causes many people to wake up one day (after the kids are gone, for example) and realize they are in a committed relationship with a stranger.

Don’t let this happen to you. Just like you do with your job supervisor, schedule a regular time to sit and explore how each of you are feeling, whether your respective needs are being met, and what can be done to improve the areas in which a need isn’t being met. Aside from this regular relationship evaluation, spend time with your partner, away from everyone else, enjoying their company, learning new things and creating a vision for your shared future.

With regular and consistent communication, you and your partner will give each other the chance to discover and end these toxic beliefs that could threaten to end any relationship – even yours.

Featured photo credit: Bigstock via bigstockphoto.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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