How to Improve your Relationships


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I was given an article to read entitled, “Live and let live: How Detaching can Improve Relationships“, from the website “Positively Positive”.  The original article is written by Martha Beck and was featured in “The Oprah Magazine“.  The basic concept is that we can fully accept someone for who they are, and as a result, be at peace with whatever they do, by not caring what they do, but still loving them.

According to Beck, there are four steps to detach from loved ones:

1.  Choose a person you love, but about whom you feel some level of anxiety, anger, or sadness.

2. Identify what this person must do to make you happy, but using this sentence: “If _____________ would only _____________, then I could feel _____________.”

3. Delete the first part of the sentence, so it reads: “I could feel _________________.”  Realize that this is the only honest truth in the sentence and know that you have the power to feel that way no matter what anyone else says or does.

4. Shift your focus from controlling others to creating your own happiness.

These four steps create an environment for those around you to feel loved and accepted — no matter what they do — and they also create an environment in which you can be happy and at peace with those you love.

Obviously learning how to do this takes practice and patience.  It’s not easy to be positive and happy when you’re faced with negativity and/or bad behavior, such as a family member that has an abrasive personality or a loved one that is battling an addiction.  Positively Positive gives these tips to help you master these steps.

* Find your own unique sources of happiness.  Relying 100% on one person is a big no-no when it comes to having a happy relationship.  It’s key to find some activities/people you can enjoy outside of the relationship you have with a significant other and/or family member.

* Surround yourself with external support.  If you’re struggling to understand someone you love or having trouble dealing with his/her actions, its essential to have some support outside of your home environment.  Find a close friend or a therapist you can talk to.

*Remember that you are powerless over others.  This is such an important thing to remember if you want to improve your relationships (or just live a positive life in general).  No matter what you would like to believe, you have zero control over others.  Realize this and you will free yourself from a lot of mental anguish.

*Focus on the positive things about your loved one.  If you’re struggling to deal with a specific behavior from someone you love, a great exercise to combat any negativity you might be feeling is focusing on the positive things you love about that person.  Most likely you’ve been ignoring a lot of positive things.

*Focus on the positive things about yourself.  Remember that there are a lot of positive things about you too.  Sometimes when we’re dealing with an upsetting behavior, we forget to focus on the positive things about ourselves — like our strength or our resilience.  Remind yourself of your awesomeness.

*Know that who you are is not defined by who you love.  Sometimes it can be really hard to deal with a family member or loved one’s behavior and it can be even harder to separate ourselves from it.  We sometimes take it to be a part of who we are — but it’s not.  Who you love (or are related to) is not who you are.

*Communicate your intentions with the ones you love.  If something really bothers you about someone you love, ignoring it can be tough — as can changing that person.  In my opinion, it’s best to communicate that you love the person, you don’t love the action, but you’re going to do your best to accept it.

Some of this resonates with me and other parts not as much.  As with anything, I say “take what you want and leave the rest”!

24 thoughts on “How to Improve your Relationships

  1. Most of the ideas in this article are similar to the principles of AA/NA/Al-Anon and (if followed) work really well. I always thought EVERYONE could benefit from attending NA meetings and am glad Martha Beck is spreading the basic ideas to the population at large.
    Thank you for this great post!

  2. This, I was not expecting… have you finished moving about now.?.. it was a good read though… and being married for 39 years I think my relationship must be OK… or it’s too late to try something else…

  3. Pingback: It was not my intention. | Telling the World…

      • Yes, I get that question all the time. But to me, sex is no longer important, and intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex. I’ve had my fill of sex and relationships and can do without either. I guess it’s because I grew up shy and introverted and learned the hard way it doesn’t pay to trust people too soon. In another lifetime, I know I would have been a great husband and father because I trend towards monogamy and relished the thought of raising kids – as difficult as that is. But, I was always too short, shy and ugly to attract anyone. Now, I’m just short and okay-looking. Call me cynical and bitter, but I feel I’m just being cautious. I have my writing, books, exercise, dog and a handful of friends to keep me sane.

      • I know sex and intimacy are different, but I can’t believe you think you’re just O.K. looking. From your gravatar you’re REALLY handsome! So what if you’re short, Napoleon was short!

      • Thanks for the compliment! At 49, I’m trying to stay in the best physical and mental shape I can. And, not for vanity – I’m way past that. That’s why I love your blog – all these great photos make me realize how badly I want to get out and travel more.

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