How to Have a Healthy Relationship in Any Context

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Healthy Relationship - Edited and Revised Transcript

by Alan Seid

This topic is extremely popular, in part because it is so disconcerting and people experience so much pain and anxiety over something so dear and important.

Don't Expect a Relationship to Make You Whole.
Be Whole, and Bring That to the Relationship

The first thing is for me to be healthy and whole and to bring that to the relationship.

For me to have a healthy relationship with someone else, I need to actually have one with myself.

I want you to consider this image:

Imagine two trees that are parallel to each other. Now imagine one of those trees is leaning on the other tree. Maybe one person is dependent on the other person for something. Well, if that tree’s really solid, even if it’s really solid, it’s still a slightly unstable relationship. Or both trees leaning on each other, it can be an unstable relationship.

With two trees that are completely parallel, then the roots can intermingle, the branches can intermingle, but at least each tree is solid on its own. If one of them falls, the other one is still standing.

So I just want to leave you with that image in terms of being solid within yourself and bringing your health and your wholeness to any relationship that you’re a part of.

Your Relationship with Yourself is Where it Starts

So you start with your relationship with yourself, and the more self-connected you are, the more clear you are inside, the more that you’ll be able to communicate with clarity what’s happening within you to other people.

If you’re not clear what’s going on inside you, what’s motivating you, what’s keeping you from being willing to do something...

...then how could you possibly share that with someone else?

So we start there.

The other thing when you have a really healthy relationship with yourself and you’re more clear...

...is that you’re more present for other people, so you’ll be a way better listener, and people will experience you as the kind of person they want to be around.

That’s one of they key components for having a healthy relationship.

So this piece around this relationship with myself has a lot to do with intrapersonal communication.

Inter-personal communication is between us. Intra-personal is just within myself.

So many of us are so brutal with ourselves when we are even slightly less than perfect.

How do you learn to be compassionate with yourself, to be gentle with yourself?

That doesn’t mean let yourself off the hook.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t try really hard at things.

But it just means that you’re not necessarily beating up on yourself or getting down on yourself when things don’t work out exactly how you had imagined.

So that intra-personal communication is an essential piece to that relationship with yourself that you can then bring to any other relationship that you want to be a healthy, thriving relationship.

Social Support for a Healthy Relationship

One of the other pieces that is really key for relationships in general is social support.

My perspective is that any relationship exists in the context of community.

I’ve done a lot of work with couples over the years and I encourage each person in the couple to have 3-10 people that they can call "on speed dial" to get that kind of support; to be able to get heard, to be able to get more grounded to what I’m needing and wanting...

...so that I can come back to the conversation with less emotional charge.

So that sense of social support is really important.

I’m not going to go into it in depth in this video, but I do have another video specifically on social support and how we can be there for each other.

Again, for a relationship to really thrive I think it’s important to see itself in the context of community, and to have that sense of social support.

The Heart of Healthy Relationships

So I’ll define healthy relationship in terms of how I see it, and that is high quality of connection.

When we have a high quality of connection between us, you can say that it’s a healthy relationship.

Now there are two levels of quality of connection that I’d like you to look at.

One it that you trust that I get your needs, that I really understand your needs. And I trust that you get my needs, you understand my needs.

When I say needs, I’m talking universal human needs, the conditions necessary for life to thrive. Things like trust, creative expression, connection, intimacy, autonomy, universal human needs.

So the first level of high quality connection is, you know what mine are, I know what yours are. We both trust that we understand each other.

But another level — it’s a little subtle — but an even greater level of quality of connection is, you trust that your needs matter to me. Your needs are important to me. It’s not just understanding what they are, it’s that you trust that your needs matter to me. And I trust that my needs matter to you.

When we can get there we will be able to prevent misunderstanding and conflicts. Or if a misunderstanding or conflict happens, we will be more willing to resolve it, or we will be showing up with good will.

One of the things that happens when quality of connection breaks down is that we tend to jump to fix it.

We go to solutions before really getting connected and often we come up with solutions that don’t really meet the needs because we didn’t really take the time to get connected to each others' needs. This is one of the most frequent sources of communication problems in relationships.

So first we work on the connection and really understanding where each other is coming from.

Then we go to resolving the problem. We go to fixing. Brainstorm all day if you want, after you’re connected. Once you’re connected and you go to problem solving, the solutions you come up with will be more durable. They will actually meet the needs. You’ll have buy-in from everyone involved. So it’ll be collaborative problem solving.

So it’s really important that we work on the connection first before fixing and solving.

So effective communication skills help me to create the high quality of connection that will help us co-create this connection that we want.

Please check out our free videos training series at BlackbeltCommunicationSkills.com.

Thank you

See Healthy Relationship, part 2 

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