One of the more common areas in the counseling part of my business is helping people navigate relationships and the many challenges that often accompany these romantic dealings. I refer to these as my “making-up, breaking-up and waking-up” clients. I witness many happy break-throughs, but also see a lot of very sad breakdowns.
Since most of us haven’t had much training in the areas of emotional intelligence, social intelligence or relationship enrichment, I thought I’d share a few of my more common insights as a result of being on the frontlines for over 25 years with these clients.
The Top 7 Ways to be More Emotionally Intelligent, Socially Intelligent and Relationally Enriched
1.) Start smart and be proactive. A healthy relationship starts with knowing precisely what you have to have and will not tolerate. Everything else is negotiable. Most of the people who I‘ve worked with have NOT been clear about these parameters. Therefore, they often get involved with someone that is a mismatch from the start.
2.) Don’t negotiate a non-negotiable. It’s true, “square pegs don’t fit in round holes.” If you find yourself involved with someone who doesn’t meet any of these core criteria, leave. I have seen many people ignore this and live behind the veil of denial and looking through filters of delusion and distortion, only to find themselves going through unnecessary excessive heartache later.
3.) Practice healthy selfishness. Healthy selfishness means standing up for yourself, doing for yourself and protecting yourself. It does NOT have to make sense to anyone else. If you start to make decisions based on what other’s say, you’ll be living their life, not yours. Protect yourself from the common manipulation traps like guilt trips, anger and “poor me.” And it’s okay to be single. Really, it’s not a disease.
4.) Never do it alone. Your biggest asset and ally will be a healthy support system. These are healthy people who know and love you, and will be honest enough to tell you when they think you’re making a mistake in your relationship. They’ll also point out your B.S.: Your Blind Spots…those characteristics you may not clearly see about yourself. This may require hiring an objective counselor or coach to help you see yourself more clearly. A worthy investment.
5.) Tell the truth. “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings,” is something I have heard way too many times. As a result, the truth was not shared, feelings were suppressed and walls began to form. A healthy relationship cannot afford walls (or canyons), but rather, needs to have two people building a bridge from both sides. Telling the truth and being open and honest are all bridge-building behaviors.
6.) Embrace conflict. “I didn’t want to cause a fight,” is the other comment I often hear when couples come to me stuck in gridlock. Nobody likes conflict, but it is necessary to know how to deal with. There are many very simple conflict resolution skills that would be ideal to learn to help ensure relationship growth. Again, if you need to, invest to learn these skills. They are invaluable in all areas of your life.
7.) Dispel stinkin’ thinkin’. Those six inches between your ears can create a lot of problems. I heard someone recently refer his brain as “a very bad neighborhood to get caught in.” Be aware of the stories you might be creating in your mind that may not be true. Learn how to disrupt your own cognitive distortions and redirect your thinking into more positive and productive thoughts.
If you’ve had a break-up, take some notes on yourself and your experiences. Make the most of this wake-up, even though it might be painful. Compare your notes with these 7 areas see what you may have missed. Then, write out a game plan for your future relationships. Stay conscious and stay connected with your friends. And always remind yourself that you deserve the very best for yourself.
If you’re in a relationship ask yourself what you can do to make it better and to help it continue to grow. Don’t get caught in the complacency trap.
Social intelligence, emotional intelligence and relationship enrichment are all areas that can be improved and grown. Make a commitment to that wonderful person in the mirror to do so.
Today is a perfect day to Marry YourSelf First!
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