None of us are islands; we all need people to live meaningful lives. If you examine any aspect of your life, you will find that it involves relationships. Having said this, it is important to note that as invigorating as a good relationship can be, a bad one can be just as energy-sapping. So, it is immensely useful to understand how to deal with people.
The main challenge in this endeavor is that every person is different. So, we need to exercise all the facets of our personality to get along with the diverse spread of people before us. However, it is possible to utilize some common threads to build bonds with people. That these threads are relatively unknown or unused by the general public is obvious from the strife and conflict around us.
So, how about we explore and see if some of these ‘secrets’ of relationships can inspire harmony and integration around us?
1. Being the architect of your happiness
Do you allow yourself to be swayed and affected by other people’s words and actions? Can your happy and jolly self flip into its sad and anxious counterpart because of someone else? If you said yes, it is because you give more weight to other people’s thoughts and feelings than your own. Instead, how about allowing these remarks to pass by without reaction?
When you stop reacting to other people’s random remarks, they tend to stop saying them. On the contrary, you might find more positive comments coming your way when you stop expecting them. So, try not to allow the weight of expectation to burden your relationships. No one can make you happy or sad without your permission. When you realize this, you will discover joy in every nook and corner. Your flexible, non-reactive and easy-going demeanor will encourage people to put their best foot forward too.
How do you do this? Focus on learning, awareness, and the larger picture. Meditation and breathing exercises can help you in this, as they take you away from the petty elements of life into the abundant universe.
2. Giving up obsession & feverishness
For most of us, being in love is the most sought-after emotion. In front of that one and only love, everything else fades away and becomes insignificant. You are immersed headlong in the deepest emotion, and all other senses disappear.
The problem is that this sort of passion or obsession rather tends to become old and jaded sooner than you’d think. You find it difficult and tiresome to outdo your feverish self of yesterday, and, eventually, run out of steam. This brings out your irritable and unattractive side – the one that repels even those towards whom the passion was directed earlier. You become bored and are boring to others.
Being centered can avoid these pitfalls in relationships. You maintain a calm and composed nature that is pleasant and reliable and that attracts people towards you. Healthy practices like meditation and pranayama encourage and enable this.
3. Communicating effectively
What does this mean? Since we interact with a diverse set of people – in terms of age and temperament, there cannot be one universally-applicable answer or method.
With children, you need to display patience and accept them as they are. Teenagers need a friend by their side almost all the time. So, the parent in you takes a backseat. The sick need a compassionate ear to hear their problems. The elderly need an attentive and caring one. If you can adjust your communication and behavior according to the kind of person you are dealing with, you will be more successful in your relationships with people.
4. Giving…& taking
Are you a giver? It is true that we have been taught to give freely without counting or expecting. In which case, perhaps, what you need a lesson in is in taking! While constantly giving must seem like a noble and selfless quality, you are in fact depriving the other person of experiencing the joy of giving.
For a relationship to thrive, both parties must GIVE and TAKE. This will ward off the bitterness that accompanies those who always give. You must allow the other person to experience the wholeheartedness and generosity that fills them as they give. It will also prevent them from feeling the weight of indebtedness at receiving continuously.
The reality is that there is so much to learn from giving that it is wrong to not let the other person experience the learning. So, ensure there is a balance in giving and taking in your life. Your relationships will greatly benefit from the judicious mix and balance.
5. Take time-outs
Only when you have the time to think, feel and experience, can you begin to think about others. So, at least once a year, take time out for yourself – go on a holiday, retreat into silence, and be with nature. Your mind will feel cleansed of the year-long obsessions, anger, jealousy, tensions, and anxieties.
In this space, there is a possibility for growth, compassion, and thoughtfulness. From here arises thoughts of giving and serving. This helps you discover your true nature and helps you connect with people at a deep and spiritual level.
If you enjoyed these simple truths, you can read it in more detail in ‘Secrets of Relationships’ by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.