6 Guidelines for Healthy Relationships

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 Relationships have always been hard. With the advent of social media, it can at times feel like it's only getting worse. The good news is that you possess the tools to maintaining a healthy and functioning relationship. Using the Guidelines below when interacting with people close to you (be it platonic, familial, or romantic), you can make a good relationship better.

Keep your Secrets - You have your secrets, it's no shame. It's important to remember that everyone else has them too. Learn to respect them,  both in yourself and others, and to expect the same from anyone else. Privacy is precious and our right. Approaching your domestic partnership with this understanding will help lay the groundwork for personal independence and mutual respect. 

Deal Breakers - Know what your deal breakers are. Everyone has those things that simply can't be tolerated within a relationship. Figure out yours, and don't make exceptions. This can sound harsh, but these issues (minor as they might seem in the beginning) tend to compound over time. If there is something that feels morally compromising to you, then leave it behind. 

Goals  -   Like with secrets, we all also have goals in life. Keep that in mind when you bring someone in. Within the confines of a healthy relationship, by practicing respect of each others goals fosters trust and support as a whole. 

Communication -  This one may in fact be the most important thing to think of as a whole. Communicating with honesty and accountability is a must. This means admitting when you're wrong, and being open and truthful even when it's hard to do. 

Negotiate, not compromise -  Compromise means people aren't getting what they want. Negotiation means people come to terms with how to get what they want. When you Compromise, you are willing to accept standards lower than your desires. Negotiation lets you keep your standards, while coming to mutual agreement on how you get them. It can be very tempting to give a little, but doing so risks building resentment down the road. 

Avoiding Over statement - As Andrea Brandt Ph.D. states here, you shouldn't use "You always/You never" statements. They're rarely accurate, and only serve to undermine the efforts of the person they are being used on. It tells them they are permanently wrong in your eyes and shows no sign of improvement. It can also lead to heated escalation which is never where you want to be. Taking the moment to put thought into your words can save an awful lot of heartache.

These are all just some ways to prepare yourself for a healthy relationship, though they are by no means the only things to consider. Many of the concepts above are touched upon by the Equality wheel (created by the DAIP), which can be found here. Every relationship is unique, and will require its own understanding by everyone involved. Keep your ears open, your heart in check, and your principles up front. 

By the way, if you need any support regarding you as an individual or with your relationship, feel free to contact us today to learn how we can help.

Mindfulness: Living in the Moment

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The ding of your phone as emails come in, planning tomorrow's activities or worrying over past mistakes, our minds are often battlegrounds of thoughts and information competing for our attention. This constant state of mental racing can leave us drained, anxious, and stressed. You've probably heard "mindfulness" mentioned as an alternative approach to dealing with the noise of our lives. But what does being mindful mean?

What is Mindfulness?

In Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation In Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally." Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses our minds to what is happening right now and choosing to not pass judgment on whatever thoughts or emotions arise.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Practicing meditation has multiple benefits, including helping to alleviate stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and even insomnia. Mindfulness in particular is also being explored for potential benefits to military personnel with traumatic brain injuries and even as treatment for internet gaming disorder. Potential applications for mindfulness are still being discovered, such as in the workplace to help avoid job burnout and work-related stress.

Practicing Mindfulness

What does mindfulness look like in practice? While there are many ways to be mindful, here are a few approaches to get started:

  • Raisin Exercise – Take a raisin in your hand and encounter it as if you've never seen one before. How does it look? How does it feel? Pop it in your mouth. How does it taste? Slowly chew while focusing on the experience. By focusing on the raisin, you are forcing your mind to be present in the moment.

  • Mindful Breathing – Breathe in and out slowly, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pay attention as the breath goes in and out, giving your body life. Let your thoughts flow out with each breath.

  • Body Scan – Lie flat on your back. Close your eyes if this helps you focus. Become aware of where your body is pushing against the floor. Starting at the bottom of your feet, slowly bring your attention to each part of your body until you reach the top of your head.

Mindfulness is a simple practice to bring into your life with multiple potential benefits. Give mindfulness a try and experience the restfulness of living in the moment.

By the way, if you need any support regarding you as an individual or with your relationship, feel free to contact us today to learn how we can help.

10 Easy Ways to Please Your Partner

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Too often, communication between long term couples can be reduced to "shop talk"- the boring, logistical pieces of your lives. Did you take out the trash? What  time is the dinner on Sunday? Are examples of shop talk- and loving relationships need much more than that to keep up the connection.

Deeper communications may require an internal shift and some action around "small talk", and what I consider the lifeblood of any healthy relationship. Here are some ways to get the conversation started.

 Thank you for...

Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated for what they do. Thank your partner for more than what you just asked them to do. Thank your partner for being a great parent, or always making time for you. 

How do you feel about...

Ask, and then really listen to what your partner is saying. Try to withhold judgement, and see what their response is.  

I forgive you...

Accepting your partner's apology for their mistakes is a way to let go of resentment, and that frees you both.  In fact, admitting your own mistakes may make you feel vulnerable, but your honesty is likely to inspire your partner to do the same.   

I agree with you because...

On any given day, we have people in  our lives that seem to love to disagree with us. Validating your partner's point of view  and perspective helps them feel heard, and strengthens the bond between the two of you.  

What are you reading?...What do you think about?...

Open up non "shop" talk communication on an intellectual level and you may feel the warmth of common views- or the sparks of difference- that drew you together in the past. Another version is Where do you want to be in five years? ... Listen to what your partner's vision is, and then share your own. The answers might inspire a new, shared plan or uncover hidden needs. 

Find your own variations of the questions above, or use these. Either way, you'll be sure to close some distance between yourself and your partner- and who knows where that will lead.