As the saying goes, no man is an island. While all of us – be it extroverts or introverts – require certain personal time and space, most of us do socialise. It’s been said that socialising increase the level of happiness in a person. Even prisoners are given the freedom to move around in the prison compound. This illustrates the importance that socialising plays in all our lives.
In the process of socialising, it’s inevitable that we form relationships with others. What varies is the quality and quantity of relationships that we have as compared with others. Therefore, it can be surmised that the relationships that we develop plays an important role in our well-being. However, I feel that when it comes to relationships, increasing the quality of a few cherished relationships with our loved ones are much better than sustaining the relationships of a large number of acquaintances on a superficial level.
However, regardless of the nature of the relationships (which may include a parental relationship with a child, a marital relationship with a spouse or a mentor relationship with a student or colleague), not all of our relationships share the same degree of positiveness associated with satisfaction, happiness and harmony. And here is the reason why this is so:
All of our relationships are influenced by our past life experiences, with our childhood experiences being the most influential. Should our past experiences be negative in certain aspects of our relationships, we will be adverse to relationships of a similar nature in our adult lives. And since we have a positive experience in other areas of our relationships, we will be successful in developing these relationships in our daily lives. For more details on the causes of this, you can read one of my previous posts here.
Hence, one may be successful in building relationships with his or her colleagues but may fail in his or her romantic life. One of the probable causes could be that fact that this individual may live in a nurturing and loving family environment but faced numerous rejections from potential romantic partners in the past.
Thus, we may often find that we usually end up with some successful relationships while others do not turn out as well. However, if we were to take a closer look at these relationships, they usually follow a recurrent pattern. That is, all if not most of the positive relationships that we have are of the same nature. The same can be said of those relationships of ours which are not as fulfilling. Most of us live through life like this, without really realising there is a way to reverse this pattern and change our lives for the better.
However, we should have an awareness that for our relationships to be positive, we must be doing something right. Hence, it will be good to ask ourselves these questions when it comes to our positive relationships:
- What is our mindset when communicating to individuals in these positive relationships?
- Do our successes in these relationships have something to do with the person or the situation?
- What are the qualities that we possess that ensure the successes of these relationships?
- What topics do we usually talk about?
- Why are these relationships working out while the rest aren’t?
- Is there a consistent pattern that we are able to identify?
Once you have identified the answers to the abovementioned questions, try to compare these to your other relationships which are not as positive. Do you see any differences between them? What are the missing elements in your “not-so-positive” relationships? What are the required elements that exist in our positive relationships but are missing from these relationships? If we are able to change our approaches to these relationships by using the same mindset and approaches that we have used for our positive relationships, we can achieve a high level of congruency in all our relationships in a positive way. It is important to note that this comes only with constant practice, effort and perseverance.
However, this practice is insufficient for great relationships. We need to remove the negative elements that are causing some of our relationships to suffer. Hence, for those “not-so-good” relationships of ours, it will be good to ask ourselves these questions:
- What are the underlying cause(s)/issue(s) that cause these relationships to decline?
- Have we made any assumption(s) about someone based on our past life experiences? If so, could this be the primary reason that is impeding these relationships from progressing and what are these assumption(s)?
- Does the issue(s) often lie with us or the other parties?
- For the issue(s) identified, is it a one-off incident or is there a recurrent pattern?
What we are doing here is removing the negative “psychological conditioning” that is compromising the positive development of our relationships and replacing it with the positive “psychological conditioning” that works in our positive relationships. The success of this technique depends greatly on how well we are able to identify the elements that work and discarding those that don’t. This is not a challenging task, given some time and effort coupled with consistent practice.
Give it a try and I believe that over time, you will have more fulfilling relationships.
And more happiness.
In my next post “Communication is about human nature, and not research”, I will be talking about the importance of understanding human nature when it comes to being a great communicator, and why research is merely a secondary approach.