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5 Effective Ways to Build Positive Relationships

We, humans, are social beings, hence we connect with others to build relationships. These relationships can either be positive/supportive or hostile/negative. While positive relationships help to build longevity, satisfaction, and happiness, negative relationships result in stress and burnout. Here, we will focus on 5 effective ways to build positive relationships.

Our need for belonging which is our tendency to make positive, lasting, and significant relationships are essential for our physical and psychological well-being. But toxic relationships can become a barrier to achieve these positive relationships. You can learn how to deal with toxic relationships here.

As for developing positive relationships, you can follow the following 5 effective ways to build positive relationships:

  1. Build better communication

Communication is the most basic and necessary component to build any relationship. And to develop effective communication, it’s crucial to understand that communication occurs when the people communicating with each other actually understand each other. To build effective communication, firstly, give enough time to the other person.

As positive relationships take time and trust to build, giving this time for communication is crucial. Try to think about how much you are giving time for your close relationships and set a realistic amount of how much you should give time to increase the communication between you two. 

Furthermore, you can improve your communication by listening effectively to the other person. Listening skills not only help to understand the message of the speaker but also help to communicate that you are actually interested in the conversation rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. It also includes paraphrasing and using body language to communicate more efficiently. You can learn more about listening skills here

  1. Express gratitude

Gratitude is a positive emotion that arises when we thank someone for helping us or just acknowledging their presence. This is a powerful way to build a positive relationship as it strengthens the connection by inspiring gratitude in others. Hence, try to build a habit of showing gratitude to others by telling them “Thank you” whenever possible. There are a few other creative ways to express gratitude that you can learn here

Furthermore, unconditional gratitude helps to build relationships by thanking others for not only being similar to them but also being grateful for the differences between them. Understanding this is important as we all have differences and when we appreciate these differences, we automatically understand the other person a little more.

Another way to build gratitude and understanding is by building empathy within yourself. When you put yourself in the shoes of another person, you understand what they experience and what could be the possible reasons behind their certain behaviors. Try to do this with a person you feel a little disconnected by closing your eyes and thinking from their perspective of their life, situations, and how they are handling stuff. 

  1. Loving Kindness Meditation

Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM) is an efficient meditation technique to build connectedness with another person, especially when there has been some conflict within your mind about that person or even yourself. This is extremely helpful because it doesn’t require you to be in contact with the other person and it helps to build self-compassion. Hence, you first work on yourself and try to build genuine love for yourself and the other person, then build your connection. To learn this, follow these steps: 

  1. Take out some time for meditation and close your eyes after finding a quiet and comfortable space for this. 
  2. Focus on your breath for a few moments, bring your attention to how you are exhaling and inhaling. 
  3. Put your hand on your chest and say the following to yourself a couple of times, “May I be filled with love and kindness”, “May I be safe”, “May I be well”, “May I be happy and at ease” 
  4. If your mind wanders, gently bring back your attention to your breath and repeat the statements. 
  5. Then, think about someone you deeply care for and you want to build a better connection with them.
  6. Now think that they are with you and repeat the statements, “May you be filled with love and kindness”, “May you be safe”,  “May you be well”, “May you be happy and at ease” Repeat the statements and gently bring back your attention to them if your mind wanders.

If you want, then you can break this activity into several parts or even build new positive affirmations for yourself.

  1. Positive feedback

Positive feedback is not only giving feedback on positive things your friends do, but positive feedback also includes giving constructive feedback that helps the other person to work on their weaknesses that they wouldn’t have seen themselves. This not only helps to build trust but also brings genuineness to the bond. 

An effective technique is to use constructive feedback. The core component of constructive feedback is to focus on the future while highlighting the positive components. Hence, if your friend asks you about their project, then you start feedback by praising them for their efforts and highlighting things you liked then you give feedback on what they should work on to improve their project to improve its quality in the future. 

You can learn about constructive feedback in detail here.  

  1. Build connection ritual

Another effective way to build uniqueness and positivity in your relationships is to make some kind of connection ritual with the other person. A connection ritual is a specific time and activity that you do regularly with another person. This helps to keep you in constant contact with the other person. 

To do this, start with sharing time in your calendar as you fix a time slot to meet or talk every week. Next is to finalize the activity you want to do with your ritual, for this purpose, as yourself, “What makes you both feel most connected” and “What interest you share with this person that you don’t share with any other person”. Finally, start building your ritual by being consistent with the plan. You can even change activities or time but make sure you give sufficient time to your close ones. 

Positive relationships are necessary to build positive social well-being. While things can get tough with few close ones but working on yourself and being true to the other person can do the magic. Hence, keep supporting and appreciating your close ones.   

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3 Barriers to forgiveness and How to overcome them

Why can’t we forgive even though we want to? What are the barriers to forgiveness?

These are the two questions we sometimes found ourselves asking ourselves as we live in a society where friends, family, and colleagues surround us. It’s obvious that interactions with them will cause positive and negative emotions in us, and in a sense, that’s what life is. In this context, we can define forgiveness as a simple act of accepting the shortcomings of others that cause negative emotions and grievances to us by simply giving them a second chance.

It is considered that in order to forgive someone, one has to have moral status.  What’s interesting is that certain kinds of other conditions must also be met before this act of forgiveness. These conditions shape how forgiveness works in society. These conditions must be met either by the victim or the offender (or both). For example, If there are not any good kinds of reasons to forgive, but the victim anyway forgives, then the victim is considered to be bad by forgiving. We can say it is a kind of wrongdoer-dependent condition. If the wrongdoer does not apologize to the victim, then the victim does something morally impermissible (or bad, or blameworthy, etc.) by forgiving.

barriers of forgiveness

Technically, forgiveness involves three main elements: a hurt victim, a perceived or real indiscretion, and a transgressor or culprit. Forgiveness of others occurs when we believe that we have been wronged, therefore it involves culminating emotions such as hostility, anger and vengefulness. Whereas forgiveness of oneself occurs when we believe that we have offended, and hence it involves culminating emotions such as shame, guilt and self-recrimination.

Forgiveness also can be defined as a cathartic process that actually helps to let go of these negative emotions. 

What’s so wrong about unforgiveness 

Of course we can’t forgive everyone and sometimes the crime is too hideous to even consider forgiving and it’s completely okay to not forgive the culprit in these situations. But we also often find ourselves unforgiving in not so consequential situations too. 

When we find ourselves in a state of unforgiveness, not only do negative emotions start to hinder our mental well-being, but also create a stress response with consequences for our physical health including effects on the autonomic nervous system, cardiovascular and vascular diseases, the immune system, potentially leading to chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, anxiety, and/or depression. Hence, forgiveness has implications not only for psychological well-being but physical well-being, too.

Unforgiveness in a way is focused on the past and anger associated with it can exhaust you. Hence, forgiveness comes as a choice where you focus on the future. 

It’s crucial to understand that forgiveness is a choice made by the person who has been done wrong by others. But reaching this choice is a personal matter and does not have a specific time frame, since everyone has to sort through different personal factors which affect this decision. The main problem occurs when an individual actually understands that they have wished to make this choice but realize after a while, that even after trying to forgive the transgressor they actually can’t. So what’s stopping them? 

Barriers to forgiveness:

After being wronged by anyone we usually undergo a process of sense-making. We find ourselves trying to understand the transgressor’s underlying motivations as well as our own feelings toward the transgressor. And these feelings might give birth to the following beliefs that work as barriers to everyday forgiveness: 

  1. Forgiveness sacrifices justice : Well obviously the victim is hurt more than the transgressor. The feeling of justice is a natural thing to arise in such a situation. Now forgiveness might mean to the victim that they have to sacrifice their right to justice. 

Surprisingly, forgiveness actually restores the need for power and status by creating value consensus because it symbolizes the victim’s faith and hope in the future instead of the past.

  1. Forgiveness condones the transgressor’s behavior: People who have repeatedly been on the receiving end of hurtful behavior do develop understandable fears that offering forgiveness will be misinterpreted by the offender as evidence that they can get away with the same behavior again. 

Even though research suggests that transgressors would be more prosocial oriented toward forgiving victims than unforgiving victims, the present hurt and the uncertainty of the future makes it really hard for any victim to forgive someone.

  1. Forgiveness makes the victim appear weak: As a social being, we all have our social reputations and forgiveness can appear to the victim that their image got tarnished. We are motivated to prevent our social reputation so that we do not appear weak and vulnerable. Interestingly, victims sometimes can also gain a “sense of power or control” in relationships by unforgiveness and they might fear that forgiveness will take away that power. 

These barriers may seem hard to tackle and sometimes they actually are. But obviously, and thankfully, there are different ways to work on these barriers. Two of them worth mentioning are: setting legitimate boundaries and re-strengthening self-worth

Setting legitimate boundaries, is the right to set and enforce legitimate boundaries in a relationship. The important thing here is to understand that forgiveness does not necessarily mean that they need to continue their relationship with the other person. Simply letting go of toxic people with negative emotions by forgiving works perfectly. 

Re-strengthening self-worth,  we may need to re-strengthen our inner sense of self-worth and self-respect before forgiveness can be an option. Building a self-image that doesn’t get tainted by others’ negative opinions and behavior is obviously not an easy task but trusted friends and family members can help in building it.  To learn more self-worth boosting activities click here.

Everybody has to seek and receive forgiveness in their life and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. It takes a lot of practice, compassion, and self-introspection to achieve it. Understanding these specific belief barriers can help in generating and implementing strategies that can address these barriers skillfully. Everyone’s journey of forgiveness is a little unique and I hope you will be able to tackle any barrier that comes in your path.

Best of luck and happy journey!