A look at how to deal with different situations that test our relationships.

The importance of relationships

Relationships connect you to the people around you - from friends and colleagues to relatives and romantic partners, to casual acquaintances.  How well you relate to other people can determine how successful you will be in life. When relationships with others become difficult, life can seem bleak. So instead of repeating the same old patterns in your dealings with others, take a step back and think about how you could change and improve the relationships that are a necessary part of your life.

The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. If you feel unhappy with yourself, it will be extremely difficult for you to form healthy relationships with other people. Below are some common relationship dilemmas with possible solutions for you to try.

 

Relationship Questions

Sometimes I suffer from feelings of inadequacy. How can I feel more confident?

True confidence is not about shouting the loudest; it's about feeling comfortable in your own skin. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a bit of banter - it gets us all through the day. But if you use it as a barrier between yourself and other people you'll always feel unhappy. Be brave enough to show your authentic self.

Top tip: Take ten minutes at the start of your day to sit in silence and clear your mind. With persistence you'll begin to feel comfortable with your true self and realise that silence can be incredibly powerful.

 

When I compare myself to others, I don't feel attractive. How can I feel better about myself?

Your power and allure comes from within not from without. It's difficult to get perspective on this subject when airbrushed perfection is considered the norm. But would you really want a relationship with someone who values looks above all? Stop comparing yourself to other people and think of them as potential friends and allies. Look after your appearance - it's part of feeling good - but don't obsess over it. Take care of your body by fuelling it with healthy food and exercising regularly.

Top tip: Smile! It's the instant beauty fix. A smile will make you look better, feel better and will put others at ease.

 

I'm looking for love but my relationships always seem to end after a few weeks/months. What am I doing wrong?

Ultimately, the way you're treated is the way you allow potential partners to treat you. If you respect and value yourself, s/he will respect and value you, too. Don't look for a man/woman unless you are happy and secure in your own life first. Start out as friends and see where it leads.

Top tip: Don't rush the physical side of a potential relationship. Get to know and trust a person before you jump into bed.

 

Sometimes I feel like my partner doesn't appreciate me. How can I improve my relationship?

It's important to retain a sense of your own identity, especially in a long term relationship. Having your own interests and seeing friends independently will ensure you focus on yourself as well as your partner. Assert yourself by talking calmly about how you feel and explain what your partner can do to make you feel appreciated.

Top tip: Breaking the routine is revitalising. See a mid week film together; cook dinner; or reconnect with a heart-to-heart about your hopes for the future.

 

How can I be more assertive at work?

Have confidence in your abilities. Approach each task knowing you are capable of doing a good job. Don't be afraid to speak up if you have an idea - what's the worst that could happen? Allow yourself to feel content about what you've already achieved then future success will flow naturally.

Top tip: Step out of your comfort zone. Volunteer to give a presentation, attend a conference or lead a client meeting. Not only will you be winning points with your boss but you will be actively growing in confidence by asserting yourself in this way.

 

My family can be very argumentative and demanding; how do I keep a harmonious home?

Of course you should shower love and affection on your children but you're not helping them if you always give in to their demands. Learn to say 'no' but be prepared to explain your reasons. Set children the empowered example of showing them that acting respectfully and calmly is the key to being heard.

Top tip: Encourage healthy debate but make sure the kids always know you're in charge.

 

I've had a disagreement with a friend that's left me feeling angry and hurt. How do I resolve this?

The powerful solution is to approach your friend directly, with compassion. Don't allow tensions to simmer under the surface and grow. But do give yourself a couple of days to cool down. Think about his/her situation and the possible motivation for his/her words or actions. This will help you understand his/her behaviour.

Top tip: You are not responsible for other people's actions; only your own. If things get heated, pause to take a breath before you reply to prevent words you'll later regret.

 

I consider myself a fairly successful person who earns a good salary but I still sometimes feel unhappy. How can I change this?

Material success brings a power that is hollow. It looks good on the outside but it's empty within. There's nothing wrong with striving for a better salary. But if buying the next handbag or car becomes your main focus, your personal power will decrease because obsession over possessions is a distraction from non material self improvement. True power is found in striving to attain personal qualities like inner peace and forgiveness. If you can achieve compassion and serenity you'll always feel fulfilled.

Top tip: Help out at a soup kitchen or similar charity. But don't tell anyone except immediate family about it. The power is in the quiet act of kindness.

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