Right now, write down 3 things that you have a positive relationship with.
Did you find it easy to name 3?
Were they only related to other people?
In my previous blog ‘The Value of Cultivating Self-Worth’, point 4 was about Building Positive Relationships. Here is the expanded version of that point!
How to Build More Positive Relationships
Like it or not, we all have relationships with everyone and everything on the planet. Some of these are tangible and some are not. This includes the relationship with ourselves, other people, our environment, and what we put into our mind and body. The kind of relationship we have with any of these things is up to us. Life improves when you cultivate these four areas.
People : Surround yourself with people who are positive towards you and who don’t put you down. Distance, even exclude ‘negative’ people from your life – this includes family members.
This can be difficult, even scary! If you are just starting this process, do it gradually, and with tact. Even if distancing these people takes a while, the process of doing it cultivates your self-worth. Like anything new, practice makes it easier!
Sometimes, ‘softly, softly’ won’t work. If there’s someone who is chronically toxic in your life, then sometimes the best course is brutal honesty and immediate disconnection. Better to leave them dumbfounded and confused than to try to explain and justify yourself.**
** - If this is a potentially dangerous, or even life-threatening situation, such as escaping domestic violence, it is vital to have a plan and support. Always refer to friends, helplines, services and support that may be available in your area.
In all cases, ensure you connect with people who believe in you, are supportive, both physically and emotionally. These people may be friends and/or professionals.
Environment : Having a positive relationship with your environment is not just about Nature. It includes your work and home surroundings.
Make sure your home and workplace are colourful, uncluttered and vibrant, as these affect you mentally and physiologically.
At work, it means more than the people we work with - although that is the most critical. We can work with the most fabulous colleagues, but if the physical environment is chaotic, it can be damaging to us. This can include the general noise level, overcrowding, clutter, the office layout and even policies and procedures. ‘Noise’ is not just about volume but also the amount of general ‘noise’ – music, talking, traffic sounds, machinery, gossip, etc. Where possible, reduce or eliminate factors within your control, and raise others with the person who can influence the outcome.
At home, live in a clean, tidy and bright environment. Even if we cannot control the entire home (e.g. shared living) ensure your own space is a positive and uplifting space! Create at least one space where there is order, no clutter, natural light, fresh air, some plants, plus anything else that brings you pleasure/joy.
No matter what our work environment is like, if we can come home to a calmer place, then we are a long way to achieving progress! If you’re living or workspace is messy, it will affect how you feel.
As humans, we all have a relationship with nature. Collectively, nature is powerfully reflecting back to humanity the need to improve this relationship. I will not go into a diatribe on this, suffice to say that every little thing we do individually and corporately, makes a difference. (If you aren’t sure what to do, just ask the Indigenous peoples of the world on how to have a positive relationship with Nature!)
Body : This includes what we put into it and how we use it. Even making small changes will have a positive effect on our feeling of self-worth.
Negative relationships with our body are sometimes addiction related – alcohol, narcotics, food, work etc. All are forms of abuse of our body. All addictions require some sort of professional help, and I recommend seeking whatever assistance you can to assist you through this process.
Building a positive relationship with our body is a vital part of positive self regard. Even small, consistent changes help build a more positive relationship with it. Doing a little more exercise, even once a week, is better than not at all. Deciding not eat something that we know we shouldn’t, or to swap it with a better choice, builds our self-worth.
You don’t have to have a ‘perfect’ body but you do need to accept and respect it. You may need assistance from a trained person starting with the mind, not just the diet or gym!
Mind : What you read, watch and listen to all have a powerful impact how and what you think! What you think influences what you feel and what you do!
Building a positive mindset starts with being conscious of what you’re reading, watching and listening to. Constantly watching horror movies, 24 hour news, murder mysteries/violent crime shows, ‘shoot ‘em up’ video games, heavy metal/rock / hip-hop / Punk music and unrealistic reality shows makes it hard to stay positive.
Whilst we can consciously know what we are reading/watching/hearing is not real, our BODY doesn’t know the difference. It still responds physiologically, as it cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction. Constantly reading or watching horror or violent content activates the limbic system and puts our body into flight/fight mode - a constant state of readiness/anxiety to respond – increasing adrenaline, cortisol etc. These systems originally evolved to keep us safe when in a dangerous situation. By keeping ourselves in a constant and artificial state of flight/fight, we damage our body as well as our mental state.
Conversely, reading and watching uplifting stories – fact or fiction – positively changes our mindset.
Music impacts our mood like nothing else. All music affects our mood and even our physiology. Styles such as heavy metal/rock/punk strongly effects our body. The loud, jarring and raucous noise combined with negative lyrics and screaming voices, can create negative thoughts and feelings. If you choose less discordant music and more uplifting lyrics, there’s every chance you’ll start to notice your mood lifting.
Changing the relationship with our mind is important – negativity begets negativity; positivity begets positivity.
The more positive relationships we have, the better our self-worth becomes. With higher self-worth, you’re less likely to experience depression and anxiety and more likely to experience greater energy, vitality and happiness that is in alignment with our true Self.
Follow these 4 steps to change your relationships, and remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Contact me on 0434 878 712 and let’s develop a plan to build your positive relationships!
David Reed is a Breathwork Therapist and Trainer based in Adelaide, Australia.