The Psychology Edit January 2024

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Happy New Year!
I have been contemplating what is most important as we enter this new year, and I believe that above all else, it is healthy relationships that matter most.
Many people think that the best relationships should happen naturally. In reality, healthy relationships don’t just happen, they require consistent, meaningful work in three specific categories. This is true for all relationships—partnerships, friendships, parents, children, and all others that matter to you.
The first of the relationship cornerstones is communication. This is probably the most obvious, but still remains elusive in so many relationships. We may be afraid to share true feelings because of worry it will hurt or anger the other, or risk making oneself vulnerable. However, poor communication—even with the intention of avoiding pain, erodes a relationship and drives distance between people.
What to do: Commit to overcoming the communication gap. If it is too difficult to begin by speaking directly, start with an email, text or even a written letter. If you’re not sure what to say, begin by speaking with love and compassion (not anger) and visualize the conversation as a bridge between you and the other person.
The next cornerstone is compromise–difficult for almost everyone because it is always much easier to see one’s own perspective as correct and the other person’s as wrong. Yet, without leaving space for the other person’s point of view to be valid, it is close to impossible for a relationship to thrive.
What to do: Practice saying the words ‘maybe you’re right’, ‘you have a good point’, ‘I’ll think about that’ and ‘tell me more’. Remember that in almost all cases, there are at least two very legitimate perspectives on every problem or fight, and both can be correct. When you are able to have the generosity to see the perspective that is not your own, the relationship will immediately grow stronger and healthier.
The final cornerstone to strong relationships is forgiveness. Human beings are imperfect, and as such, prone to making mistakes. Some errors in a relationship can’t and shouldn’t be forgiven, but in most cases, forgiveness is a necessary part of every healthy relationship.
What to do: Ask yourself whether you would hope and expect to be forgiven for the thing that you’re struggling to forgive—if the answer is yes, perhaps you should find it in you to offer forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t have to happen all at once. If the relationship is worth it, you can work towards it, allowing yourself to forgive a little more each day.
I wish you strong, healthy relationships in this new year and the resilience it takes to nurture them!