You may (or not) be a Dr. Phil fan, but anyone who’s been in a sour relationship would have to agree with him: no relationship is way better than a bad one. Dr. Phil was referring to a romantic relationship, but it’s true for any relationship – between father and son, work colleagues, boss and subordinate, even between teacher and student. Any relationship where the lines of communication have dried up, being replaced by manipulation and lack of trust can generate stress, depression, burn-out, resentment, and eventually, will lead to health issues.Most of us are getting ready for the holiday season, and even if you’re not celebrating, you’re likely impacted by it personally. The holiday season is a family time, and can be either joyous or miserable depending on who you’re with. This season, if you feel you’re going to be miserable or alone, try making one change – add at least one thing that lifts your spirits, like volunteering at a local shelter Christmas Day, or taking yourself and a friend to a movie. Find some way to celebrate your life and the relationships that support that part of you.
Here are some Don’t and Do’s, some from Oprah, for developing and maintaining healthy loving relationships with partners, friends and family:
- Don’t cling. This pertains mainly to romantic love relationships, but is true for all close relationships. It’s a myth that there is only one true love out there for each of us. This idea drives us, out of fear of losing that extremely scarce person, to cling on for dear life. And that, in itself, will eventually lead to loss.
- Don’t change yourself. If someone you want a relationship with has conditions that require you to change who you are, turn away. That person is telling you that they aren’t interested in you. Sometimes it’s our family who want to change us; in that case, if you want to be with them, be with them, knowing that the connection can only go so far.
- Don’t settle. If you get the feeling that a friend or lover is stringing you along, then they probably are. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that things will eventually get better. They won’t.
- Don’t bend over backwards. Healthy relationships include confrontation and compromise; we all have issues that sometimes need airing and changing. In a healthy relationship, we have plenty of chances to confront those issues and grow as a result.
- Do have fun. When we don’t cling to someone, we’re free to be ourselves, appreciate the other person for who they are, and be present for whatever comes up.
- Do accept and appreciate yourself just as you are. When we don’t accept and love ourselves, we end up comparing ourselves to others, believing they’re somehow better than us simply because they aren’t like us, spending more time in jealousy and envy than in joy. This will eventually drive others away, even if they truly care.
- Do explore different relationships. Just as there isn’t only one true love, there are many different possibilities for intimacy and connection. Ever time we openly connect heart-to-heart with another person, we flood our bodies with happy hormones, calming our system, bringing balance, and enhancing our longevity.
- Do be open with your feelings and considerate of the feelings of others. “I need to speak my truth” has been too often said to hide lashing out in anger. Confrontation doesn’t have to be hurtful; most of us have reasons for what we do, and most of us are doing the best we can at that moment. In a tense situation, remember the cliché of “Pick your fights”. Is this one really worth it?
Healthy relationships prolong our health and our life. They bring us joy and make every day something to celebrate and look forward to. Unhealthy relationships can lead to chronic stress, isolating us and setting us up for serious stress-related illness, such as diabetes type II, cardiac failure and ulcers.
Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up
A healthy relationship brings joy – not some of the time but most of the time. …
I know for sure that in the final analysis of our lives – when the to-do lists are no more, when the frenzy is finished, when our e-mail boxes are empty – the only thing that will have any lasting value is whether we’ve loved others and whether they’ve loved us. – Oprah
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org