If your desire is to have a healthy relationship, one that’s lasting and meaningful, you have to put the relationship first. This means putting it first over your own momentary feelings. Over your ego, the fear-based self, or your hurt feelings. And over what others might tell you to do. First off, I never advocate staying in any relationship which is abusive or controlling. That isn’t what I’m talking about here. What I’m referring to are relationships between two emotionally healthy individuals.
A relationship is an ongoing interaction with anyone, whether with your spouse, your child, or a close friend. Anyone you relate to on a continuing basis is in a relationship with you – even the mail carrier. But especially with your significant other. These are the people we’re open with and trust our hearts to. If you want the people in your life to remain open and caring towards you, you have to be gentle with their hearts. Which means putting the relationship first and caring enough about the other person, where you’re able to respond to them respectfully and in a caring manner. Even when they’ve completely ticked you off.
Our past affects how we relate to others
We all enter into relationships with past baggage. The hurts and disappointments we’ve experienced through life. This can’t help but color how we view other people or interactions. Even if we’ve done the work to release those past disappointments, being human means we’ll always have some sort of work to do in those areas. Life goes on as we continue to interact with people on a daily basis. Which means there are new misunderstandings and challenges that continue to come our way from time to time.
If we have experiences where we’ve been hurt, how then do we maintain loving relationships? How can you have something happen between you that comes across as hurtful, but still be able to put the relationship first? If you do decide to put the relationship first, it means taking the time to step back and take a breath before you react negatively towards your loved one. You consciously decide that the relationship is more important than your need to lash out or react poorly towards the other person. This isn’t easy, to say the least. But if you aren’t able to cultivate this behavior and react in a mean or angry way, it chips away at the other person’s ability to keep their heart fully open and loving towards you. They learn to protect themselves by shutting off a little more each time something like this happens. Ask yourself if ultimately, this is what you want?
Remember – we’re all doing the best we can
We’re all doing the best we can. Even when it doesn’t appear to be that way. If you can take the time to try and understand why the other person did or said what they did, maybe you can be more caring towards them when you talk to them about what’s on your mind.
As a basic example, imagine you’re driving down the road and a car flies past you and cuts into your lane. You have no idea why this person did this, the general response is to become angry or put out. But, what if the other driver was a man who’s wife was in labor? Or he just got a call one of his children was in emergency room? If you were in that situation, you might also be driving fast to get to the hospital and maybe not being as courteous as you could be on the road. We have no idea why another person does what they do. In the case of a relationship, if it’s someone you love, there’s obviously something lovable about them. When you can take a breath and not react, maybe you can remember exactly who that person really is and why you love them to begin with. If you’re able to care enough about them, you realize you don’t want to hurt them. You have the opportunity to choose between reacting angrily or giving them the benefit of the doubt to ask them what was going on.
Yes, this is asking a lot in many instances. It means you have to step away from your ego and your self-interest at times and see if you can be the bigger person. When you’re able to speak to another person when it’s not in the heat of the moment, you stand the chance of showing another person you care about them. Many times you’ll find out it had nothing to do with you at all. Maybe they had a rotten day and they overreacted towards you. Maybe they’ve been under a lot of stress and just lashed out.
The question to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to begin destroying a relationship over how I respond to this situation?” Because over time, if you continue to react negatively, you will, in the end destroy a relationship.
Learn to express yourself with respect and kindness
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