• Kevin Patton

Better Relationships

Updated: Sep 17, 2019


"Love is an action requiring your involvement and your active participation. You cannot sit back and expect the world to serve it to you. You cannot expect that your relationship will continue to provide love when you're not putting in any effort. Love has to be earned and continually fought for".

Stephen Covey

In other words, you have to work at it.

Physiological effects of Falling in Love with Being Yelled At

Falling in love may not be viewed as stressful, but it has many of the same physiological effects as being yelled at. Though these effects are similar, we perceive the sensations as worlds apart.

Stress helps us move towards change. Early in a relationship, the positive “stressful” sensations help us take the risks needed to reach out and develop the relationship. Later on, stress serves as an indicator light. It signals us that we have an area where attention is needed. At that time, stress can also provide the drive or energy to make needed improvements.

No one falls in love with the goal of ending the relationship. Nearly everyone falls in love with at least the hope that they will “live happily ever after.” The reality is that problems enter all relationships, and working through these can tarnish even the most shining armour.

Having good, close, meaningful relationships is important to most people. They don’t just happen, or just work by themselves. It takes hard work to enter into a relationship and keep it going well.

Behaviour that moves towards the type of relationship that we would like to have

  • Keeping promises

  • Being honest

  • Respecting other’s rights

  • Caring about others

  • Listening with empathy to others

  • Apologising when you make a mistake

  • Forgiving others when they make a mistake

  • Offering to help others in need

  • Not speaking ill of others

  • Being courteous

  • Being fair

  • Forgiving yourself when you make a mistake

  • Not gossiping about others

  • Speaking kindly

  • Complimenting others

  • Thanking others

  • Able to say “NO” when necessary

  • Taking responsibility, not blaming others

  • Having compassion for others

  • Assertive letting others know what you need

  • Living by healthy sexual values

  • Generously sharing with others

How are you doing with building healthy relationships: score yourself

(Scale of 1-5, 1 = not so good, 3 = ok, 5 = very good)

What are your best relationship strengths?

Are there 1 or 2 characteristics you want to work on to improve your relationships?

Which of the images catches your interest more?

In social psychology, Reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions. As a social construct, reciprocity means that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative than predicted by the self-interest model; conversely, in response to hostile actions they are frequently much more nasty and even brutal.

People categorize an action as kind by viewing its consequences and also by the person's fundamental intentions. Even if the consequences are the same, underlying intentions can cause an action to be reciprocated differently. Reciprocity is considered as a strong determining factor of human behaviour. Positive reciprocal actions differ from altruistic actions as the former only follow from other positive actions and they differ from social gift giving in that those are not actions taken with the hope or expectation of future positive responses.

In essence, we are interested in people who are interested in us. The chances are that, although both pictures show the same model in the same pose, you were more drawn to picture 2. This picture has been retouched to increase the pupil size (a nonverbal cue indicating interest).

Showing interest in the people we’re with means they will be more interested in us.

Sharing your thoughts and feelings calls to another. It opens yourself up to communicate and lets others know that you are approachable. Developing your abilities to communicate allows you to share deeper in the lives of those you care about. It also allows them the opportunity to share with you.

Real, genuine communication makes it possible for family members to feel cared for and listened to and assures them that their thoughts and ideas have been clearly understood.

We can’t sort out our relationship problems single-handed. The other person has to be interested.

People are interested in us when we show an interest in them – and one of the most powerful ways to show interest in someone else is to listen to them, and I mean really listen.

The Chinese Character “Ting” to Listen

Listening is the key skill which enables us to understand each other. Unlike speaking, in most educational systems, we are never taught to listen. It is often assumed that if we are fortunate enough to have two ears that work well, we can listen well. This is not the case. Listening is a skill like any other and, as such, is something we learn to do.

In order for the other person to feel valued, motivated, worthwhile and encouraged, they need to know that they are being listened to. Therefore it is important to avoid doing things like doodling and tidying.

Things that let other people know that We’re listening

  • Give them your full attention – even if it is only for long enough to say that you are unable to listen at the moment and to arrange another time to talk (Be specific, and keep to that time).

  • Keep eye contact – whilst being sure to avoid staring.

  • Sit or stand reasonably still – fidgeting indicates impatience, doing other activities indicates disinterest.

  • Summarise and reflect back what you have heard periodically – this helps both you and the other person keep track of what is being said. Do not change subjects!

  • Allow silence – to help you communicate patience and to enable the other person to draw more out of themselves.

The thing that will indicate that you are listening the most is giving your full attention and concentration to the other person. Worrying about the details of body language may interfere with your listening.

Things that show we’re NOT Listening

  • Ordering, directing, or commanding

  • Warning or threatening

  • Giving advice, making suggestions, or providing solutions

  • Persuading with logic, arguing, or lecturing

  • Moralising, preaching, or telling other people what they should do

  • Disagreeing, judging, criticising, or blaming

  • Agreeing, approving, or praising

  • Shaming, ridiculing, or labelling

  • Interpreting or analysing

  • Reassuring, sympathising, or consoling

  • Questioning or probing

  • Withdrawing, distracting, humouring, or changing the subject.

The Ancient Art of Tai Ming

Have you ever been in the middle of something when someone else wants your attention, RIGHT NOW? Timing your communication is important. Make sure you find a good time to talk. Avoid discussing major concerns when hungry, tired, late at night, or in a hurry. Try to set a place and time of day that will be free of distractions and sufficiently private.

• Are you in control of yourself? Find out how you are feeling and make sure you feel emotionally ready to discuss the situation.

• Is the other person receptive? Ask yourself whether others are defensive, preoccupied, tired or ready to talk about an issue.

• Assess the level of willingness to discuss a concern and the pace at which it should proceed. Some issues take time and patience to discuss or work through.

Working it Through

Set a clear agenda. Have a clear idea of what you wish or need to discuss and avoid other topics.

Identify the problem or issue of concern. Share your feelings about what is bothering you and why you would like to discuss it and find a solution. Be respectful of others’ feelings and views.

• Brainstorm together to find ideas and solutions to a concern. Get a variety of ideas and write them all down before beginning to make judgments.

• Decide which suggestions are most possible or desirable, then drop others off the list. Talk about the possible outcomes for each choice and the best solution.

• Share your feelings in a healthy and respectful way. Exchange ideas or preferences. Give the other person "the floor" to speak while you listen, then trade off.

• Find a solution that family members can agree on or compromise to reach a decision. Take steps to implement it.

• Set a time to follow up and evaluate the decision made and discuss how it is working.

We can live a vital and meaningful life by choosing and committing to values that are important to us—NIKE Therapy “Just Do it!”, make a plan, don’t procrastinate, take action.


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