I’ve recently had a few conversations with people where various relationship challenges have come up.
[To be clear, I’m talking about relationships in the widest sense of the word. This isn’t only about intimate relationships – it’s also about the relationships we have with friends, colleagues, and the wider world.]
Because these were people I care about, I found myself wanting to somehow ‘fix’ the situation: to offer them a solution that would magically make the problem go away. However, when the conversations were over, I was left with a sense of unease – that I hadn’t served those people as well as I would have liked. I hadn’t really helped.
I found the answer by referring back to my Manifesto – my personal guidelines for how I show up in the world:
1 :: There’s Nothing New.
Relationships are as old as we are – and for all that time, they have ebbed and flowed.
2 :: No Quick Fixes.
It takes time to heal the rifts in our relationships – there aren’t any shortcuts.
3 :: It’s Always Both.
Very rarely [never?] does the blame lie on one side. Rather, there is responsibility on both sides.
4 :: Being And Doing.
What am I feeling? What actions am I taking? Are they helping or hindering?
5 :: Connection Matters.
The more important a relationship is to us, the more time we should be spending with it.
6 :: Everything Evolves.
As individuals, we change – and that changes the world around us … including our relationships.
Working through my Manifesto like this was a clear reminder to me of the value in having one. It acts as a practical reminder of what is important to me, and helps shape my thinking and behaviour. Am I always successful? No, of course not – none of us are. But having these guidelines in place provides a solid foundation for me to build on.
In terms of relationships, the biggest learning for me was around number 2 – No Quick Fixes. As I mentioned, I got caught up trying to offer solutions to people – trying to ‘fix’ things for them … and that’s simply not how relationships work.
Instead, I reminded myself how the wonderful Cleo Wade thinks of this. At some point, whether at home or work, relationships always involve talking to the other person. Rather than framing these as ‘hard’ or ‘difficult’ conversations, she suggests reframing them as ‘healing’ conversations.
What healing conversations might we have today?