Wired to connect. Wired to grow.
Are relationships feeling complicated?
As much as connecting is important and valuable, it can be a great source of conflict. Sometimes, it’s assumed that being in a relationship should be natural, effortless or easy. However, relationships require attention, effort, and development. There are essentials ingredients to helping them work.
What research has shown is that we are wired to connect, both at a biological and intuitive level. We need connection to survive and thrive. But, what do we do when it’s just too complicated to get along?
There are ways to improve the quality of relationships. The first step is to reflect on the quality of our current relationships. Dr. Amy Banks, explains that a way to assess relationships is to rate and reflect on 4 ingredients such as: safety, acceptance, mirroring, and energy.
We are capable of improving the quality of relationships within what’s under our control. There are variables that are simply not a reflection of us, but the other individual’s past and present circumstances. With that said, that helps us know our own boundaries and how far we can develop a relationship without sacrificing our needs and dignity.
So, what’s under our control:
- Communication Habits
- Developing Trust and Mutual Respect
- Responsiveness and Commitment
- Engagement and Attunement
- Boundaries and Limit Setting
- Energy and Exploration
- Affirming and Encouraging
- Responsibility and Repairing
People will typically respond to what provide. There are individuals who will not know how to respond, even when we try our best, and that’s okay. Basically, the way people respond provides us with feedback as to what works and doesn’t in the relationship.
If other individuals don’t respond as we’d hope for, that doesn’t mean we have to isolate ourselves and not engage. It may mean that we might need to develop some communication or relationship skills or that the other individual may need time or space to be responsive in the way we are hoping for.
There is hope for relationships. The ones that matter to us are the ones worth investing in time, attention and effort. There are some that are worth putting on pause or letting go of all together. Typically, it’s notable and clear when there is a lack of willingness to engage or try. In some cases, we have tried beyond our window of tolerance and it’s time to move on.
Lastly, it’s good to check with ourselves the following questions:
- Can I be myself around this person?
- How do I feel about myself when I interact with this person?
- Do I have to become someone else? How come?
- Can this person be themselves around me?
Finally, relationships are important as they reflect beliefs about us and others. My hope for you is that you surround yourself with people who believe and want the best for you.
-Jazmine Silva, LPC
Amy Adams and Leigh Hirschman (2015) “Wired to connect: the surprising link between brain science and healthy relationships.”