“Are good relationships easier?”
Dr Allegra says….
What would life be like if there was less yelling on a regular basis? If there was less frustration, more ease, greater amounts of happiness, and deeper levels of being able to listen and connect?
What if arguing wasn’t a default way to communicate?
How would your relationships change if this life was a possibility for you?
Relationships can be the best and worst thing about being human.
When we are seeking to cultivate happy, healthy relationships, it’s not always a straight line. In fact, like most of life, it is more like a river. Relationships ebb and flow and meander. They never flow in a straight line. It always has detours. And, that’s part of why they so beautiful.
Have you ever had issues in a relationship? Yeah, I can definitely raise my hand for that. It’s these layers of communication, where it’s not always clear how we’re trying to communicate with each other if it’s actually coming through, if it’s actually what we’re thinking. Is what you mean always what is coming out of your mouth? Relationships take a lot of energy. If they’re not going well, it can become exhausting.
When we have better communication skills, we are able to feel heard at a deeper level, which allows us to feel seen and acknowledged at a deeper level. Ultimately, that is what we are seeking in our life. We want to feel heard. We want to be seen. We want to feel like other people see the part of us that we value. We want to communicate our true nature and needs. Communication is a way we show and express ourselves.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself so you know a bit of my background. As a licensed naturopathic physician, I work with people to help them lead healthier lives, on all levels, because health isn’t just about your physical state. Health is also about your emotional state, your relationships, your spiritual connections. “Spiritual” doesn’t always have religious undertones to it. Sometimes it does. But, all those layers of health are what I seek to help people find in their lives. The reason I know it’s so important is because, for a long time, I didn’t have that. I struggled tremendously. I was not able to communicate with myself, let alone with other people. It was a very, very painful time.
What I was experiencing was a lot of depression and anxiety, to the point where I was having panic attacks almost every day. I was so shut down in my ability to listen and communicate with myself that panic attacks were a way for my body to just get my attention. Because, you can’t ignore a panic attack. If any of you have either had one of those or seen somebody go through that, it’s like they’re completely breaking down. If you’ve experience it, it kind of feels like you are going crazy. It’s not a nourishing space to be. It’s not a happy place to be. I didn’t communicate well with others through that experience. There was a lot of yelling, at myself and others. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of negative self-talk. This created tons of problems in my life, if you can imagine. It made it really, really difficult for me to even see myself as somebody worth caring for. I needed to cultivate my relationship with myself in order to be able to have healthy relationships with those around me.
My husband and I have been together for 21 years. When we met, I was 19 years old. Going through all of the chaos I just talked about, my communication skills, as is true for many 19-year-olds, were really horrible. But, I knew that I really wanted to connect with him. So, I needed to figure it out, because I was not going to mess this up. I had to teach myself how to learn to listen at a core level.
That’s the journey I began to walk. I would ask myself, “How can I figure this out so we can work through this?” Because, if any of you have been in a relationship, sometimes it’s… rough, to color it very nicely. And, sometimes, you don’t know if that other person can hear you, or if you’re actually saying the things that support creating a constructive conversation.
So, I created a plan for myself to really cultivate my ability to connect, communicate, and to grow. I knew that there was never going to be a point where I was ever perfect. In fact, perfect is a delusion, and I suggest that we all throw that concept out right now, because if that is what you’re seeking, you will always fail. We’re not built to be perfect. Part of what I found on this journey is, I had to love the parts that weren’t perfect. I had to love the parts that were nowhere near what I thought were ideal – not only in myself but in others — and to be able to let those natural variations that happen in life be what they were, instead of trying to make them into what I thought, expected, or assumed that they should be.
Part of this journey for me was learning how to listen to my needs for the sake of my health and to manage the massive amount of inflammation and chronic pain that I was experiencing, as well. I was able to heal this pain, but the core of it was me learning how to listen to myself and others.
I want to teach you some of the skills that I have learned along this path. As I said before, perfection is a delusion. I’ve learned along this way that practice makes progress, and that’s all I’m looking for. Truly, one day at a time is all that is possible, and, ultimately, that’s all we ever have. So, if every single day you can make one tiny step towards expressing a better version of yourself, you’ve got it. Because, that means, you’re never going to get stuck in a place where you know it all, where you know you got it down. You know, that mythical place where everything goes to plan every single time. I don’t know anybody who’s actually had a life like that, but I know people who got really pissed off because they didn’t.
MYTH #1: Relationships, the good ones, are easy.
This is one that I believed, especially when I was younger, that good relationships, were easy, they just happen, and require little effort. After being with my husband for 21 years, I understand this is not true. I highly believe that he and I have a good, healthy relationship, but it has not always been easy.
There have been times; years even, which did not, at all, fall into the easy category. That didn’t mean that our relationship was not good or valuable. It just meant that we had more work to do on being able to show up and communicate, to be honest about what we were feeling, and be honest about how we were choosing to interact with each other.
Healthy, lasting, and supportive relationships take work. This work is WORTH EVERY BIT OF EFFORT.
In the next post in this series, I’ll cover another myth about relationships. Your homework for today is to see how you can nourish your relationships by reminding yourself that even the best relationships require patience and kind attention.
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We all can use healthier options.
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