Ask anyone in a healthy, strong relationship what makes it work and they’ll tell you, working at it! Strong relationships, with friends, family, and significant others, don’t just come easy. Just like a garden, they need to be tended to and paid attention to in order to grow and become even more beautiful. Use these 8 tips from Miraval’s Anne Parker to be present and mindful in your own relationships (romantic and otherwise!) and watch them grow even stronger!
1. Be Present
The way to connect to those you love is by being present – over and over and over again! Being present means fully engaging in what is being shared between you in that moment – truly paying attention to the thoughts, feelings, and actions you are experiencing together. This may sound obvious and straightforward, and it is. But how often do we let other distractions interfere with true presence? Without engaged presence, relationships quickly wither.
2. Acknowledge the positive
You fell in love with that person (or became friends) because of their positive traits and qualities. Yet, in the midst of everyday stresses, it is so easy to focus on the negative. Make sure you acknowledge what’s working and give credit for the things that go well even in the midst of conflict. Stay in touch with what you love about that person instead of focusing on how you wish they were different.
3. Nurture respect
Respecting each other means remembering that you are two different people with different perspectives, histories, and ways of being. Honoring those differences is just as important as valuing the similarities. We all want to be respected for who we are and what makes us unique. Are you reciprocating that respect?
4. Be curious
Everyone wants to feel that the one they love is interested in them and cares about what is important to them. Make sure you that regularly create focused time to just talk, ask questions, and share the thoughts and feelings of everyday experiences. Curiosity breeds discovery and ongoing discovery about each other keeps the relationship vital and interesting.
5. Truly listen
Whether talking about everyday logistics, deeply held thoughts and feelings, or disagreeing and trying to resolve conflict, the key skill is to truly listen. True listening doesn’t mean just paying attention but also taking in what the other person is saying without interpretation, without assumptions, without defensiveness. Willingness to truly listen not only fosters a good connection, it is an investment in getting accurate information.
6. Don’t get attached to being “right”
When problems develop and disagreements occur, getting attached to being “right” just creates barriers to resolution and productive action. Most of the time it doesn’t matter who is “right!” What matters is how you connect, listen, discuss, and create the most productive result.
7. Cultivate caring touch
Touch is critical to our well-being. Caring touch in all of its forms releases beneficial biochemicals in our bodies including oxytocin, the so-called love hormone. Oxytocin helps us feel connected and bonded to those we love. A little caring touch goes a long way!
8. Have fun together
Sharing fun and laughter is absolutely critical to keeping relationships alive. There are many ways to share fun and laughter and doing it on a regular basis is essential to support love and stability in any relationship. Make sure that creating space and time for fun is at the top of your priority list!
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