“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one”
I think the Tony Robbins quote above is pretty accurate. The quality of your relationships – no matter in what form they may exist – obviously has a huge impact on your life. But what can we do to create new relationships and improve our existing ones?
Well, here are 7 timeless tips that people have used throughout the ages. Hopefully you'll find something useful.
1. Be open to new people.
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
It's easy to get comfortable with what you have and what you know. It feels familiar and safe. But being open to new meetings and being open in those meetings can also be a great thing.
One of the best and quickest ways to grow and experience new things is simply to meet new people with an open mind. You may feel some inner resistance before the meeting, but just like when you don't feel like going to the gym it's a good thing to not take that feeling too seriously. It's there because it makes it easier for you in the short run and because it keeps things as they are. But just ignoring it and going ahead anyways is oftentimes much more rewarding.
2. Be wary of building walls.
“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
Joseph F. Newton Men
The ego wants to divide your world. It wants to create barriers, separation and loves to play the comparison game. The game where people are different compared to you, the game where you are better than someone and worse than someone else. All of that creates fear. And so we build walls. But putting up walls tends to in the end hurt you more than protect you.
So how can you start building bridges instead? One way is to choose to be curious about people. Curiosity is filled with anticipation and enthusiasm. It opens you up. And when you are open and enthusiastic then you have more fun things to think about than focusing on your fear.
Another is to start to see yourself in other people. To get that there is no real separation between you and other people.
That may sound vague. So one practical suggestion and thought you may want to try for a day is that everyone you meet is your friend.
Another one is to see what parts of yourself you can see in someone you meet.
3. Learn to like yourself.
“It is of practical value to learn to like yourself. Since you must spend so much time with yourself you might as well get some satisfaction out of the relationship.”
Norman Vincent Peale
As Peale says, you will have to spend a lot of time with yourself so you might as well make it pleasant. This is also important because how you feel about yourself is often how people will tend to treat you. If you like yourself then that comes through via your body language, voice tonality and words. You will, for example, send out positive and confident signals. Two things that people generally like and appreciate in other people.
How do you learn to like yourself? Well, that seems to be a challenge with many answers.
But one of the most important things is to do what you feel is the right thing to do consistently. When you think and act as you would like and at least go for what you want – even though you may fail from time to time – you tend to feel good about yourself. You live in alignment with what you think is right. You are being “the best you”.
Another thing is to some way down the road realize that adding more to yourself will never be enough. It's just the voice of the ego wanting more, more, more! It's like trying to fill up a bucket with hole in it.
A far better mindset is that you are already complete. This makes you feel good about yourself and gives you more emotional stability. What you add to your life – people, gadgets, food – can bring great experiences but you are already complete. This mindset allows you to stop chasing “the next thing” for the rest of your life.
However, to be able to take such a mindset seriously you may have to chase things and people for a while longer. When the suffering has become enough, when you've tried over and over again without finding what you look for then that is often the right time. The time when you open up to trying a new perspective. When you have suffered enough you will often take the leap and change.
You can read more about this in books by Eckhart Tolle like A New Earth and Stillness Speaks.
4. Your relationships are in your mind.
“As you think so shall you be! Since you cannot physically experience another person, you can only experience them in your mind. Conclusion: All of the other people in your life are simply thoughts in your mind. Not physical beings to you, but thoughts. Your relationships are all in how you think about the other people of your life. Your experience of all those people is only in your mind. Your feelings about your lovers come from your thoughts. For example, they may in fact behave in ways that you find offensive. However, your relationship to them when they behave offensively is not determined by their behavior, it is determined only by how you choose to relate to that behavior. Their actions are theirs, you cannot own them, you cannot be them, you can only process them in your mind.”
“It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.”
How you choose to interpret people and your relationships makes a huge difference. So much of our relationships may be perceived to happen out there somewhere.
But as mentioned in tip #2 in this article, your underlying frame of mind – do you build bridges or walls? – will determine much about your interactions both new people and people you know.
So you really have to go inside. You have to realize that your interpretations from the past are interpretations. Not reality. You have to take a look at your assumptions and expectations and thought habits. Find patterns that may be hurting you (and others). This isn't easy. Or always pleasant. You may discover that you have had some negative underlying habits of thought for many years.
But to change you have to do it. Instead of just keep looking at yourself as some sort of unmoving and objective observer of the world and reality. A change in you could – over time – change your whole world.
5. Give value instead of the other way around.
“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: they're trying to find someone who's going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.”
As mentioned above, it's useful to like yourself and see yourself as already complete. Otherwise you may go chasing new relationships to get that kick of feeling good over and over again. When you on the other hand like yourself, you spend less of your focus on what you can take and more on what you can give. The desperate craving to get more, more, more and fill yourself up isn't there anymore.
Creating a habit of giving value in your everyday life and in your relationships is pretty awesome. And it's something anyone can start to develop today. Some of the things you can do to give value are:
- Bringing a positive attitude and vibe into interactions.
- Offering useful advice or knowledge to someone.
- Giving a genuine compliment.
- Just offering a listening ear to someone who needs it.
- Cheering someone up.
- Helping someone out with moving, cooking, cleaning up etc.
- Taking the lead and creating a fun situation for your friends such as a picnic or a night out on the town.
- Being totally present in conversation and focused on the other person.
It's important to do this without hidden agendas. If you do something just to get something back that often shines through. A genuine compliment is powerful because you really and honestly mean it. It backfires when you are just out to get something from the other person.
But of course, people who give a lot of value tend to get a lot of value back. In the long run things tend to even out and you get what you give.
6. Share with someone.
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
Simple but easy to forget sometimes. Sharing makes life and relationships a lot more fun. And your hard times at least a bit easier.
7. Genuineness is the key.
“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don't over-analyse your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.”
Leo F. Buscaglia
I think that one of the most important things in a relationship of any kind is to be genuine. Few things are as powerful as genuine communication and letting the genuine you shine through. Without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.
It's you to 100%.
It's you with not only your words but you with your voice tonality and body language – which some say is over 90% of communication – on the same wavelength as your words. It's you coming through on all channels of communication.
Being your authentic self – the one where you build bridges, the one where your ego is not running the show and trying to get something from someone – will give you better results and more satisfaction in your day to day life because you are in alignment with yourself. And because people really like genuineness and people really like authenticity.