Family, Friends & Loved Ones
Sometimes when you have been through difficult stuff you can feel alone or find it hard to connect to others the way you used to.
But relationships are a huge part of what gets us through tough times too.
Here are some tips to help build safe relationships and reconnect to those you love.
- Respect others and expect respect in return. Friendships and relationships are healthy and supportive when there is mutual respect on both sides. This means both people have the same amount of power and no-one feels they can control the other, or they can’t be honest with each other. Visit Love is Respect for more info on healthy relationships.
- Say what you mean, mean what you say. It’s good to remember that people cannot read our minds, so be clear if you want to communicate something. If you mean no, just say ‘no’ and say it clearly. If you want something, just say it. Be confident, say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Tell them what you need. Often if you have experienced something overwhelming or intense, such as an unwanted sexual experience, people might think you want to talk about it/ or think you never want to talk about it. Tell them what you need, it’s ok to say “I’ll tell you if I want to talk about what happened but otherwise let’s talk about other stuff, I don’t like you bringing it up unexpectedly”.
- Don’t say sorry too much. You don’t have to say sorry out of habit. Don’t say sorry when you make requests, for disagreeing with someone (if you’re disagreeing respectfully), for feeling things, for being who you are, for being alive. Know that you matter – your words, thoughts and feelings matter, and you don’t have to apologise for them.
How to be a great friend today.
- Truly listen. One of the best gifts we can give others is our undivided attention. Sometimes, we may be more focused on thinking about saying something clever while someone is talking to us, instead of truly listening to that person. Make eye contact and stay focused on them. Truly listen, and the other person will feel more connected to you.
- Validate. Show that you understand the other person’s feelings or opinions by validating them, instead of making judgements. Examples are, “I can understand how you feel,” “This must be hard for you,” or “You’re doing really well.”
- Sometimes it’s a relief to smile and be light-hearted with a friend. One of the best ways to build great relationships is to share positivity to others. Smiling, openness and light-heartedness can go a long way in making others feel good and at ease when they’re with us.
- Try “I” statements, instead of “You should.” Clarify by saying, “I felt this when you did this,” instead of “You should ____.” Blaming others rarely helps the situation, as they would feel attacked when we blame and attack back, or, they may quietly be resentful. “I felt this when you did this” helps people understand where we’re coming from without blame.
- If someone has been through something difficult, let them know you are there if they want to talk. Depending on what has happened to your friend they may or may not want to talk about it. Tell them you are there to support them but that they don’t have to talk about it if they don’t want to. Tell them you will help them find the support they need through awesome websites like Em.
- Try and understand their point of view. Who we are is the result of many factors including our experiences, the people we’re surrounded by, where we grew up, how we’re brought up and more. Try to understand a person’s point of view through the context of their situation, history and sense of self. Once we see that so many things affect who we become, we’ll understand there’s no one right way to think, feel or be, which will make us accept many types of thinking more.
Why we need healthy relationships.
- Humans are social creatures. We’re hard-wired since the beginning of time to survive and thrive when we’re part of a family or social group.
- Our relationships help us be who we really are. Our relationships with others help us get to know ourselves better, our strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and as our relationships grow, so do we.
- Relationships contribute to our happiness and wellbeing. Relationships are vital for our happiness. As humans, feeling connected is an important part of our overall happiness. New studies have shown that addiction of any kind has some roots on feeling disconnected or isolated.
- Healthy relationships help improve our health. There’s a study linking healthy social relationships and with overall improved health, reduced stress and longer life.