Welcome friends to Episode #92 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. When you begin to stretch yourself to do things in new and different ways, it often feels like your relationships get in the way. What if people don’t support you and your new ways of being and thinking? What if people don’t seem to understand what you need and desire? What if other people are openly critical about how much time you are spending on your dreams and desires – instead of on them and what they care about? Managing your time, results, business and health are all related to relationships, but the most important relationship is that with yourself. Today, we’re going to dive into how to be better at relationships, starting with you.
The funny thing about relationships is that we don’t really know what it is we want out of them. We don’t spend much time thinking about relationships but we do spend a lot of time thinking about how we want other people to be, what they need to do and how they are making you feel.
We don’t see that within a relationship, while there are two people – you and me – there are many thoughts, opinions, and concerns coming from both people. There is the you that I think you are based on I am perceiving and seeing. There is the “me” that I think I am based upon what I am thinking and perceiving. There is the “me” that you think I am based upon what you are thinking and perceiving.
At the root, not only do we not know what filters and perceptions are coming into play, we are also not actively deciding what we want to show up in our relationships with others. We don’t know who we want to be and that we could bring the best parts of ourselves to the relationship.
We often think about how romantic relationships fade over time and when you understand what happens, it is very clear why that happens. In the beginning, we are really intentional about who we want to be in the relationship. We want to be a good date, a good partner, funny, smart, kind, loving and attractive. We do things to show up in this way. Yet, when relationships carry on for a longer period of time, what happens? We stop being so intentional. We have a full day of work and obligations – and instead of thinking about how we want to show up to our partners when we see them, we just show up. We bring the leftovers of ourselves home.
We try so hard in many aspects of our lives to be the best version of ourselves, but we forget to do that with our relationships. We especially forget to do this with ourselves as well. We think carefully about how to deliver feedback, persuade, influence and win over other people at work and then we don’t do the same for ourselves.
What do we do when we don’t think we’ve done our best? We are hyper critical. We shame ourselves when things don’t go the way we don’t want them to go. We say to ourselves things we would never say to other people, until one day we do.
This is why we have to be able to hold ourselves to the same standards in our relationships that we want to have in the rest of our lives. It drives everything. Even if you think your life is pretty good, there is an exponential level of freedom and joy you can feel when you tend to your relationships with the same level of energy and commitment that you hold for your biggest goals and dreams.
Think about it. You are the one that shows up to do the work. You are the one that needs to solve the problems. You are the one who has to respond to your teams, managers, friends and family members. This is one job you cannot outsource. This is the one job you also don’t want to outsource. This is the job of being you. Not just the accidental you, but the thoughtful, interested and engaged you. The one who is resourceful and who leads.
The thoughts and beliefs that you put into your brain on a daily basis will shape your outer world. When I began to feel that I wasn’t utilizing my gifts in the world and having the impact on the world that I wanted, it was at a time when I realized that I didn’t even truly know who I was anymore. We all have these moments where we look ourselves in the mirror and we say, “I thought I would be further along by now”. We think that life just unfolds and we find ourselves along the way, when in reality life unfolds and we create ourselves along the way.
If you haven’t taken the time to get to know yourself, you’ll have a hard time improving your marriage, your followership at work and your circle of close and intimate relationships. Being better at relationships starts with being better at being you. What brings you joy? What do you fear? Where in your life are you not being yourself? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? How do you like to give and receive love?
The more we understand ourselves and the more awareness we bring to our common thoughts, concerns, hopes and dreams – the more we realize that other people are also operating in their own bubbles of thoughts, concerns, hopes and dreams. We assume nothing and we ask everything.
Even if you feel like you’ve known someone for a long time, ask them questions as if it was the first time you met them. I encourage you to try this at your next date night with your partner, with your kids, with your co-workers, friends and family. People will surprise you with answers you may not expect. Let people tell you what you may have assumed and you will know with greater certainty exactly what they want most in this world and how to help them have those things.
When we show up in a relationship to serve, help and give people what they need and desire – there is almost no way the relationship will not improve. Imagine you met someone who intimately knew your deepest desires and fears. Someone who knew what you liked to do in your spare time and what gives you meaning in life. Imagine that person knew you loved to spend time with people above all else and instead of buying gifts for you, booked a trip with you instead. Or maybe they know you love little acts of service and they show up with a meal, invite you over for dinner, take your kids off your hands for a few hours, or help you run errands so you don’t have to. You’d fall in love with this person.
Whether or not this is romantic love, you would appreciate them to a whole other level. It is not what you think is right or wrong or good or bad, it’s getting inside their mind and their brain to understand what is happening so you can relate to them from a deeper level. This is the exact same thing you do with yourself first. No judgement. Just observe, ask questions and seek to understand.
Recently, I did a one day silent retreat and one of the things I noticed was that I had common thought patterns. It was like I got to see all the different rooms of the house that was me. I could see what areas I haven’t explored and most importantly, I became really comfortable with myself. A deep sense of wellbeing pervaded. A sense that there is no one else to be but me. That is an extremely freeing feeling. This is why I am such a big advocate for examining your thinking, and getting still enough to witness common behaviors, patterns and habits.
We don’t even realize sometimes, that we are unintentionally showing up in our relationships and with ourselves. We get so caught up in business of our lives that we don’t do what is most important. Connect with ourselves and with others. We don’t even know what it looks like to connect with other people. I often work with clients who are struggling with relationships and the funny thing is that they are so kind and loving towards others, yet they struggle still with loving themselves. Yet, upon further reflection they see that while there is outward loving kindness, it’s not actually felt. It’s what they think they should do instead of who they just are. That is the difference that makes the difference.
People can feel authenticity from miles away. They know when your energy is just superficial or deep and real. I encourage you to think about the following questions to get to know yourself on a deeper level if you truly want to be better at relationships.
- What are your goals/dreams?
- What brings you joy and meaning?
- What is your biggest fear?
- Who are your closest friends?
- What are you most proud of in your life right now?
- Who are you at your best?
- Who are you when you’re not at your best?
- Where in your life are you not being yourself?
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
- How do you like to give and receive love?
If you answer all these questions, I would encourage you to ask these questions of the people in your life who you want to get to know better. You might want to start with intimate relationships where you have already established trust, like with a partner or close friend – and see what this reveals about them. I guarantee you that you’ll learn something you didn’t know before that will help you understand how to bring the best parts of yourself to this relationship.
Let me know how it goes and how your trust and relationship with yourself deepens in the process.
If you want to learn more about these topics, and how you can experience this in your own life, schedule a free coaching consultation today.
No matter what success means to you, coaching will help you get there faster and more sustainably. We work towards results in every area of your life. Time management – spending more time on what’s most important. Creating a mix of work and personal life that is sustainable. Career and Business – deciding what you want next and how to achieve it – whether it is more flexibility, purpose or deciding to start your own business. Energy management – improving your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health so you build confidence in designing your own life. If you’ve got some changes you want support in thinking through, book your free consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact today.