Relationships are key to successfully living in the world. There are foundational relationships we form with caregivers. There are relationships we form with significant others like friends, colleagues or romantic partners. Then there is the most significant relationship that develops throughout our lives – the one with ourselves.
Relationships can be affected positively or negatively based on how we learn to give or receive love when we are children. As adults we then get to choose what skills we have that are healthy and which skills deserve a bit more refining.
Are you someone that gets tripped up when it comes to relationships – either with others or with yourself? Not to worry, we all have areas in our relationships that could use a bit of practice or improvement.
The interesting thing to keep in mind about our ability to relate with others is that our skill grows in relationship with others, not in isolation. So, don’t hide out in February, let our Wholeness providers help with your relationship journey!
We have some tips to help you relate better with yourself and others. Here are three ways to foster healthy relationships:
1. Get to the root of relationship. From birth, the role of caregiver could arguably be the biggest influence on the way we relate. Learned behavior sets the pace for relationships we will form throughout our lives. Therefore, it is important to look at the role we performed as a child in the family structure, and how we interact with those in our family we give care for, currently.
Dr. Joe Martindale, child and adolescent psychiatrist, offers this advice for parents: “One aspect of healthy love that understandably can be very difficult for parents is to allow their children to make mistakes. There is not a concrete, black and white rule book for this, but I can’t recommend strongly enough to parents that they set some boundaries with room for “error” and strive to maintain awareness of those boundaries.
“In this case, boundaries being the balance between allowing your children to express themselves in ways you may not agree with, and the parental responsibilities of providing guidance and protection.
Each parenting situation is unique, so this is offered as food for thought. Nevertheless, I believe that having the awareness of offering love with this balance in mind is perhaps the most important aspect of being a parent.”
2. What is a healthy relationship with others? Dr. Matt Brennecke ND, offers this visual to help you identify patterns as you relate to others. He thinks about healthy relationships like 3 different letters:
A: An A-framed relationship happens when two people are codependent on each other. They are each other’s life. If one member falls, so does the other. This is an example of an unhealthy relationship.
H: An H-framed relationship results when each partner is more concerned with what is going on outside of their relationship instead of spending time with each other. The two are held together by an extended hand out to each other, but that relationship can be severed easily. This is a weak relationship or a relationship of convenience. Another example of an unhealthy relationship.
M: In an M-framed relationship each member has their own life, but also has a life together with their partner. Each member has the ability to stand on their own two feet and has friends outside of their relationship but can find common ground with a solid connection to their partner. They can function independently and at the same time function well together. This is an example of a healthy relationship.
3. Being self-aware. Love and connection are essential needs for every human, Stephen Thomas MSW, ACC, tells us. Knowing who you are and why you relate in the way you do can be helpful.
“Attachment theory suggests that our ease or difficulty in forming secure bonds with other people is influenced by our relationships with parents/caregivers in early childhood. Understanding your attachment types, and those of your loved ones or partners can offer helpful insights into the struggles that may arise in love relationships.
Additionally, the Enneagram—a personality classification system based on 9 core “Enneatypes”—provides a useful framework for self-exploration and awareness.”
Recognizing the different ways each of us is wired to seek comfort and safety can be a revelatory step along the path to forging healthy, fulfilling, love relationships. If you need support along the way, the providers at Wholeness Center are here to walk with you.
Wholeness Center offers a variety of mental health tools to assist you. If you live in the Northern Colorado/ Ft. Collins area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs the Wholeness Center has to offer, please call 970-221-1106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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