Updated: Aug 3
We all know that maintaining relationships we already have and building new relationships may be difficult! Here is an easy acronym to help you remember how to get connected and stay connected to the people you care about!!
We have many relationships in our lives that are important to us, but often we don’t put much energy we put into maintaining them. Think about your children, partner, siblings, and parents. How much time and effort do we usually put into these relationships? If the answer is little to none, you are not alone!! We tend to think of these primary relationships as stable and not going anywhere. We think that we can neglect them for long periods of time, or even sometimes abuse the relationship, and they will still be there. When we are stressed, busy, under pressure, working on these relationships often takes a back seat. .
It is important for the mental health of your loved ones as well as your own mental health to put more of a concerted effort into these long term, foundational relationships.
Making friends at any stage of life can be difficult. If you are a teenager, the friendships that you have and the people you are connected with mean everything to you! If you are in your 30’s or older, meeting new people is hard enough, but to build a relationship with them can be even harder.
We are social beings and having deep, meaningful connections is one of the 4 pillars of health! It is extremely important for us to have healthy, thriving connections with the people around us.
Here is a simple acronym to help you with relationships!!
G- be Gentle
We want to be gentle when we are talking to new people, but also people we already have relationships with. Try not to attack, be critical or be disrespectful. (Yes this also means parents of teens should not be disrespectful to their teens even when getting disrespect from them) Start conversations off with a soft start up not a harsh one.
I- (act) Interested
We do not actually have to be interested in the subject the other person is talking about! The important piece to remember is that we are interested in the person! If your husband is really into playing Magic the Gathering and you could care less about it, listen to their stories about games they have played. Ask about a new card they just got that you know they are excited about, learn how to play the game so you can have a shared activity that your partner really enjoys. (Not that I am speaking from experience with this issue…)
Validating means putting yourself in the other person's shoes. Even if you do not understand, agree or relate to their thoughts, subjective reality or emotions, you can still validate them! This is a hard one for a lot of people! How can I validate if I do not agree? Isn‘t that just telling them that they are right? No. We can disagree completely, and still validate. Here is an example: Your teenager thinks it is a good idea to go to a lake house for the long weekend without any adult supervision. Probably not something you are going to agree with. If we start with validation “Oh man, I can remember when the idea of not having supervision as a teenager was the dream! I can see how you think that would be so much fun!“ We do not have to let them go, or agree that it is a good idea. What validation will lead to however is a conversation rather than an argument.
E- use an Easy manner
Have some fun! Let down your guard a little and just enjoy yourself. Use some humor, laugh, be fully present with the person in front of you. If something happens that you are not okay with, try and let them know while still using an easy manner. It won’t be helpful to speak in a harsh manner, ie: Well that’s not cool.” “Do you speak to your mother with that mouth?” “Not today mister!” When you want to say no to something try an Easy manner, ie:, “Wouldn’t that be nice?” “Yeah, I’m Sure a lot of us would want that too.”. Keep it light hearted as much as you can.
Of course, part of being in healthy relationships is also about having more serious conversations and having conflict that cannot be fixed with an easy manner. If we do not have the foundation building of GIVE, those more difficult conversations will be even harder to have.
Hi, I’m Kristina Anzell, I am a Clinical Social Worker dedicated to providing compassionate and tailored mental health support for moms at all stages of motherhood. My mission is to empower you to thrive in your role as a mother while nurturing your own well-being. If you enjoyed this blog post, check out my blog here! If you want more information or are seeking treatment, feel free to reach out!