I’ve lived a boring and oftentimes lonely life because I thought I sucked at developing good relationships with others.
Few years back, while still at college, I could say I knew a total of six to ten people who I kind of had a close friendship with, not that I didn’t have colleagues. Still, we just had a farther relationship, and that was primarily because I thought I sucked at starting a conversation that could lead to a good relationship with someone.
I always thought; if you come talking to me first and we find common ground, then I could take it up from there.
But I noticed no one came around, just a few who were bold enough or who got to see a side of me they liked that seemed interesting and even then, for the most part I didn’t let down my walls of insecurity for fear of ending up surrounded by toxic people.
Come to think of it, a lot of people seem to follow the same line of thought as I did.
Many people do not want to reach out to others; we prefer to sit back and let others make the approach.
No wonder many fall into loneliness and depression because they assume no one cares or they believe they can’t get along with anyone.
I was at this point, too, until I came to realize my assumptions were wrong, and if this is you in any way, maybe it’s time for you to check out your assumptions on relationships.
Don Migue Ruiz Jr & Heatherash Amara in their book The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships say: “The seven secrets to healthy, happy relationships – commitment, freedom awareness healing joy communication and release can help you at any stage….and the first three are what we call the foundational secrets…”
I wanted all these, but my real fear was how difficult, and scary this was. To face my fears, I knew I had to step out of my shell. So I took the plunge using these steps below.
1. Understand that all relationships bring challenges and advantages
People are flawed.
I had to come to accept this fact before I could successfully maintain healthy, happy and really good relationships.
Knowing this helped increase my ability to love and deal with people.
Sometimes we focus too much on people’s flaws that we forget to realize everybody has a weakness in them as well as diverse qualities that make them unique.
When you’re trying to develop a new relationship with people, first, you have to understand that these are people with some sort of flaws unknown to you yet, and you have to admit that you’re able to deal with whatever challenges you face during your friendship with them.
When you enter a relationship with this kind of understanding and mindset, it just gives you the calmness and control you need to be able to deal with them no matter what happens.
2. Smile often
The best way to show you’re open and welcoming is to smile.
I remembered someone walking up to me one day to ask why I stopped wearing a smile. According to him, my smile was the reason he had a conversation with me for the first time.
Honestly, I had some issues going on at that time, but after that day, I did my best always to wear a smile.
A simple smile does a lot of good that can never be quantified. It melts the hardest of hearts, it saves lives, and it shows love.
Learning how to smile will help you increase your inner calmness and kindness toward others. Precisely, it also shows how strong you are.
It’s also important to know that people love staying around those that smile a lot even when the situation doesn’t require them to smile.
3. Be a good listener
I also became good at doing this. I could listen to you pour out your heart while trying to reason with you and help you feel that you’re not alone and that someone understands.
That little act is what most people need to come out of their depression and loneliness.
I noticed that the more I listened, the more people wanted to talk and associate with me.
Most often, while having a conversation with another person, we instead think of what to say next to sound smarter, rather than listen to what the other party is saying.
This isn’t right.
Everyone desires to be heard and understood.
No matter who you’re conversing with, create room to listen, doing this will make others bond with you quickly and you to them too.
4. Esteem others
To esteem is to respect, and that’s very important. Do not look down on anyone.
We all have the desire to be taken important by others; it’s the default mode of our D.N.A.
Show love and concern for others, remember details about them like their birthdays and any other events unique to them.
When you esteem others, you’re showing them that you appreciate them and have their best interests at heart.
5. Control your emotions
If you’re someone who gets a mood swing from hot to cold quickly, then you must learn how to control your emotions.
Everyone gets to go through difficult situations, so transferring your aggression on others isn’t the best answer. You can always open up to the other party if you’re experiencing something that won’t make you fully present with them.
When they know this, they could even help in making you feel better, and this will further improve your relationship to grow stronger and healthier.
Doing otherwise, like showing your anger, may push people away from you and make it difficult for you to create good relationships.
6. Don’t force yourself into relationships
If you force your way into a relationship with anyone, you end up hurting yourself.
If you’ve noticed you’re giving so much to a relationship while the other is giving back nothing in return, it could mean the other person isn’t interested in that relationship.
If you also notice the other person keeps a distance from you or keeps avoiding you, forcing your way into such relationships will only do you more harm than good.
The best thing to do in such situations is not to become enemies with such persons, but you might withdraw a bit and still do your best to remain friendly to them.
7. Give and expect nothing in return
This is the ultimate form of love; it is, in fact, love in its pure form.
You won’t always get what you give in return, so rather than hurting unnecessarily, show love to others and don’t be concerned whether they reciprocate, you’ll be surprised how much satisfaction this will bring to you.
Are you currently facing an issue of loneliness?
Do you try to build good relationships with others but find yourself being hurt in the process?
If yes, It’s not because you suck at building a productive relationship or that anything is wrong with you; it’s because you haven’t learned how to develop non-toxic and healthy relationships with people around you.
As you can see, the reason we fall into bad relationships is that we live in a world where nobody wants to give and love without getting anything in return.
Nobody likes the scary experience of loneliness that comes as a result of giving all the love and getting little or nothing in return.
This reason is valid, and I totally resonate with it. I mean, why would we want to sincerely love and care for someone and get nothing back in return?
I call this the give and take syndrome.
Even after I decided to make friends, I found myself in many situations where I tried to be there for people, only to end up with nothing.
The question then is, should we allow the negativity and flaws we experienced in past relationships or the present ones stop us from opening our hearts to love, or even make new friends entirely?
Should we allow that to hold us back from developing pleasant and really good relationships now?
Should we always wait for others to approach us in an attempt to hide from our vulnerabilities?
The answer I think is no, what people did to you or refused to do shouldn’t change who you truly are, and it shouldn’t make you withdraw into yourself.
But don’t just take my word for it, let’s see it from a different perspective.
Ben Stein said: “Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”
That means no matter how much a relationship sucks; you still need people in your life; you need what someone else has; someone needs what you have. You cannot be somebody when you walk with nobody!
You can’t make advancement, success, and achievements when you have no personal relationships.
If you carry on with your current beliefs and mindset your relationships will be as they’ve always been.
So what mindset should you carry instead?
How can you develop good and even better relationships than you’ve had before?
The keys set out above will help you to develop and maintain healthy relationships.