So often we are hard on ourselves for relationship challenges. From- did I say the right thing? Am I doing enough? to do I have enough friends? Should I have my own family right now? Do my kids like me?

I wish I could just offer you a big pile of relief and I will attempt to do so! I will offer, you choose to receive! See- that is our relationship in this moment.

How am I offering relief? First, take a huge deep breath and let it out just as hugely! Do it again. The truth is most of us are always doing the best we can with relationships. We learned how to behave at some point in our life and some things may work for us and some may not. Unraveling these will be worthwhile work if you want to create great relationships.

Here are some of my (random) thoughts about relationships:

-Things ebb and flow. Just as we go through things in our lives, so it is with all of the others we are in relationships with. Be patient and enjoy the moments when things sync up. So the best you can. If you flub up, learn what happened and decide to do better. Let it go and do not use it to continually beat yourself up. That energy is not healthy or attractive.

-There is no norm and everything is different for each of us. I really do not like it when I hear things like- oh teenage girls are tough and that is a rule that we may take as true. As it happens, my teenage girl gave me a run for my money! Now I call her one of my greatest teachers. But I know plenty of moms and dads of teenage girls past and present and they had a different experience than I did. Discern what is true for yourself because no one else is you and no else is living your life.

-You don’t need a lot of friends. Some of us have many friends and belong to groups and are still in close touch with our friends from childhood. Some of us have just a few good friends, or maybe even just one. The important thing is to have one good friend who you can talk openly and honestly with. Again, know yourself and be kind to yourself. You do not need to be everyone’s friend. Human beings are not meant to be isolated, we are meant to be in relationship with one another, but it doesn’t have to be with everyone.

-I love the ratio of 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative to keep a relationship thriving. If you’re not quite there, this is a good goal to strive for.

-I am also loving the 8 second hug- though my son might not agree- someday he will be giving them to his own kids maybe- or someone he loves. I didn’t know about this idea officially until recently, but I have experienced it from a friend many times in the past and it has really made me feel important to him. Isn’t that weird? But that’s what it does- because it is not just an obligatory hug, it says “I find you important enough to stay right here for 8 seconds.” Try it- I know that sounds short, but just try it!

-Connecting other people is fun- whether introducing people to each other in person or via email, or gathering a group of friends together. Doing nice things for others is nice for them, but feels even better for you!

-In relationships remember that there is a full circle (I have written about this before)- giving is one half of the circle, and receiving is the other. How are you with receiving things that people are trying to give you, or do for you? Once again, when you allow yourself to receive, you allow the giver to feel amazing. Please stop shortchanging the givers by telling them no, they shouldn’t, you’ve got this yourself, or it’s too much. Just say “thank you!”

-Lastly, I have been teaching a course series to a leadership group and what occurs to me is something we have been talking about a lot in that course. Clarity almost always solves almost all problems. Said the other way- lack of clarity causes a whole bunch of problems. In relationships it is so important, whether at work or at home or at the grocery store to take the time to be really clear about what you want and what you are trying to say. No one can read your mind and so this one idea may go a long way toward smoothing out some bumps in some of your relationships. Take the responsibility for your end and speak clearly about what you would like to be true on the other end. Always do it with kindness.

What are your beliefs about relationships? Take some time to journal your answers.

What works the best, and is going the best in each of your relationships?

Where do you struggle the most?

What are some ways you can begin to lessen the struggle?

When will you start?

Have a great week ahead!