The following basic operating principles are the foundation of good relationships:
- Love and all its aspects, including respect, kindness, caring, attention, understanding, generosity, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, attention.
- Open and assertive communication.
- Clear boundaries.
- Validation of the other person.
It’s important to be aware that when people behave in negative ways, they are in pain of some kind. We all do that. Instead of reacting, we can ask them why they are in so much pain that they would act that way, and how we can help. Empathy and compassion have solved many problems. It’s much more productive than an ego response of striking back or feeling hurt. It’s also important not to take it personally; it’s a reflection on them, not you. We have to decide the best course of action with a balance of boundaries and empathy. Both are needed.
Here are some ways to transform negative feelings in relationships:
- Ask yourself what is the purpose of each relationship you have. Are you fulfilling it? What can you do to improve it? What are you to give, to receive and to learn? Focused reflection can reveal solutions.
- What is the life lesson you are learning from this relationship? What are you learning about yourself? Is it self-esteem in the face of criticism? Speaking up for yourself? Changing to a more positive attitude? Being a better parent, friend or partner? Is it learning to take a risk? Be more generous? Learning compassion? Learning boundaries? Becoming non-judgmental? Taking action toward your dream?
- How are you treating others? Your true spirituality or need for growth are reflected in how you treat everyone you encounter.
- See the other person in a new light, a new understanding. Get inside their shoes in a deeper way. What are their strengths/weaknesses? What are they learning? How do they need to grow? What are their challenges and pressures? What are their hopes and dreams? What are the lessons they are navigating at the moment? These questions help us understand the negative behaviors of others and we can then be more tolerant and understanding.
- What are the positive qualities you are developing in this relationship? Love, strength, forgiveness, respect, tolerance of differences, faith, peace, service to others, confidence, kindness, honesty, unselfishness, empathy, boundaries, reliability, joy? Focus on developing these personal qualities, especially the ones that will help you solve your problem. Relationships are the ground for tremendous, if difficult, personal growth.
- Forgiveness allows us to be free of emotions that linger and fester. To forgive means to let go. We simply stop thinking about the incident for our own well-being and say goodbye to it. When we are rude or make a mistake, we hope that others will understand that we aren’t proud of our behavior but were stressed or in pain.
Everyone makes many mistakes; we need to let go and not carry a grudge to be able to continue growing and connecting with people. Even if we choose to sever a relationship for our well-being, letting go of the emotional memory is important to keep us positive and moving forward, not stuck in the past emotions. Forgiving self when we say or do something we’d like to take back is essential, too.
Each day, clean yourself from negative feelings about self.
Negative Emotions about self
Negative emotions about self can be false beliefs that we carry from childhood, things we’ve been taught, or things someone else believed about us or self-fulfilling prophecies. For example: “I can’t get my needs met,” “There’s never enough money,” “I’ll never be good enough,” “I’m clumsy,” and “People don’t like me.”
Just as we can be in charge of our emotions, we can be in charge of our negative beliefs. In life, you get what you believe. This has been documented in Bruce Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief. What beliefs about yourself do you carry that are harmful?
We can choose a new belief about ourselves just as we choose a new emotion after transforming the old one. Do the work. Visualize self as already having the quality or experience that you want. Creation begins in the mind. Practice daily just as you would if you wanted to win a figure skating contest. Visualize and feel yourself winning until you believe it and it will becomes a fact.
The following are additional ways to overcome specific painful emotions:
- Sadness: Do one thing that brings you joy each day and one thing that brings someone else joy each day. Don’t miss a day and you will heal.
- Anger: In your mind, reverse roles with the person who made you angry. Be that person. What is their life like? Feel empathy and compassion for them. Blame is not productive or healing in any way. What weakness are you aware of in self right now? Do one action or activity each day to correct it. Focus on your own growth rather than slights and hurts. Take positive action for yourself.
- Jealousy: Focus on getting your own goals met. Work, study, improve your situation with these activities instead of focusing on what you don’t have.
- Despair: Do a gratitude journal for at least 30 days. A new perspective is essential to pull out of despair. Get your mind off yourself. Think of others and do random acts of kindness often. Do volunteer work for those who are sick, impoverished or disadvantaged. Make a clear decision to start anew in life with fresh goals and ask for help from others to begin accomplishing them.
- Fear: Face it one step at a time. Take one action to overcome it each day. Fear will stop your dreams from coming true. One step at a time brings success. Success wipes out fear. (If you’re afraid for your safety, find immediate help. Trust your intuition and instincts.)
- Hurt: People who don’t respect themselves or have low self-esteem or who are angry do and say hurtful things to others. Respect yourself by not taking it personally. It reflects on them, not you. Release it and keep clear boundaries with the person. Use discernment and trust your feelings about people who are not your friends. If they do it once, they’ll do it again.