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How To Strengthen Any Relationship

It starts with you.

What if I told you there is no such thing as overreacting? That the word "dramatic" is made up and instilled in your brain by societies misconstrued and conditioned belief that you are in fact able to pick and choose how you feel in any given moment? I'm here to tell you, during a moment someone may think or tell you you are overreacting, that in fact you are reacting justifiably, just to a different situation entirely.

So we all have relationships; friends, siblings, parents, children, coworkers, significant others, etc. Now think of the most significant relationship in your life today, and then the most dominant issue that arises in this relationship. What bothers you about this person? What is a single or constant problem or conflict that is getting in-between you and this person's relationship? Write it down and make sure to choose something internal, for example "I hate when my boyfriend checks out other girls," rather than an external conflict like "I hate having a long distance relationship."

Let me break this down, and I mean take it way back. It all began in your adolescent days, when you're making sense of the world, society, and your relationships. Evidently, you are coming to conclusions about not only everything around you, but more importantly, yourself. Now this is key, because it is very possible that you haven't given this too much thought until now. Before the age of 13 we have come to conclusions and made most of our beliefs about who we are as a person. Without even realizing it, we still carry around those beliefs today. To sum up, you could be living, breathing and thinking as a 13 year old girl or boy, reacting to your surroundings as your 13 year old self would, without even knowing it.

I'm just going to put it out there; we all have past wounds. Now you probably realize this, but did you know that if you've never confronted and healed them, they are currently running your social life on auto-pilot? Anything in your external life that triggers a negative emotion or response from you is a clear sign that a past wound is neglected and unhealed within you, and it's your job to dive deep. I'm going to tell you just how to do that.

We can begin to explore ourselves and wounds by looking at the building blocks that make us who we are today. Picture it like a house; the foundation being the main structure you've built everything off of. The foundation is essentially the cards you've been dealt; the environment, the people, and the things in your life as a child. Everything that's happened to you under the age of 13 goes in this category. We call it the "stories." Next comes the walls to your house, a necessary component of what makes you you, but was only able to be built off of the original foundation. Now remember, you did not have much control over your foundation, and the walls are just a byproduct. Your walls represent your beliefs, and form different rooms in your house to hold them. Beliefs of the world, society, and as I mentioned earlier and the most important part of this particular exercise, the beliefs about yourself. Who you are, what you like, what you believe in, and your fears. Your fears are the third building block of who you are, and stem back to your beliefs. Next is your roof, the topping of your structure that tells us if your house is standing and functioning. The roof represents your needs, and like every other building block they are a result of the layers underneath.

Let's use Lucy as an example. When Lucy was 7 her father left the family and never looked back. This is a "story," and contributes largely to who Lucy is as a person today. Why? Because when Lucy's father left, she felt like she was unwanted. This resulted in a wall to her house; a belief that Lucy is unwanted. Not just unwanted by her father but in general, because in that one moment and circumstance it lead to Lucy coming to a conclusion of the world and herself. Now from this belief a room formed in her house, an entire room for fear that she really and truly is unwanted. It's like the devil on your shoulder that tells you something you think you know is not true, but no matter how old Lucy gets, 7 year old Lucy is still unwanted within her. So from Lucy's fear of being unwanted comes with her need to... you guessed it... feel wanted. This results in Lucy acting out her life as she's in a movie, playing out a part to feed the need of feeling wanted.

If your still a little lost, lets take it back to the paper you wrote earlier. What is the current conflict in your life that feels to be entirely someone else's fault, and in turn disrupting your relationship with them? Now ask yourself, when this person does the thing that bothers you so much, what need is not being met? This need is internal and longing for attention, so do your best to really self reflect and dig deep. Lucy's example could be "my friend didn't invite me to the party" and her response is to be angry with her friend. The anger within her is a sign that she has unhealed wounds within, and her friend is just a trigger to that wound. The first step is discovering what need is not met. Lucy's need is feeling wanted, which is clearly not being met when she doesn't feel like she's wanted at the party. Lucy cannot control her friend to make her feel wanted, so she needs to explore and acknowledge that the emotion already existed before the actual instance happened. It is not her friends fault that she believes she is unwanted, nor should she be blamed.

The outcome of this exercise is to be self aware of our needs, as well as the needs of others. You may not know where the need originated from, but you can identify the patterns of your needs and the patterns of others. If our needs are not being met, it is our job to communicate that need in a way that doesn't blame the other person. Remember, everyones just acting based off of their own needs and fears just like you. They may not be able to meet your needs and thats ok. The question is, are your needs serving you? Or are they based off of a trauma waiting to be released? Before you react to a negative situation, do your relationship a favor and recognize you are not reacting to the current conflict at hand. 

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