I think that sometimes we can overcomplicate relationships. When I say relationships, this refers to all types of relationships. Whether we want to be or not, we are somehow always in relationship with people.
In life, it can be so easy to find something to get upset about and cut people off. However, my various life experiences have taught me the importance of bearing with people. Sometimes this is easier to do than other times. But when there is a genuine love for the other person, I am willing to navigate difficult times with them.
I think that sometimes we forget that when we are in relationships with other people, there are two different people involved. These two people have different values, perceptions, beliefs, etc that make who they are as a person. However, I do believe that exercising three key qualities can help us as we are in relationship with others. Cultivating patience, empathy, and respect in our relationships can help us to form and maintain healthy relationships, or at-least maintain our dignity.
Patience is more than just waiting for someone to return a phone call, reply to a message or to arrive as promised. I believe that patience is hopeful and it endures. It does not give up. I think that sometimes we give up on people too easily. Patience acknowledges another person’s flaws but also realizes that we are both a work in progress. When we are patient with others, we remind them of how much we believe in and value them.
Now, I don’t believe in enduring abuse from others or dealing with individuals who refuse to accept accountability for their actions. I think at some point, we have to cut off those unhealthy relationships. However, there are other times when we could be a little more patient with others. After all, if it is the relationship that we truly value, the other things will work themselves out in time.
Patience could involve having open discussion about what it is that’s bothering you so that the relationship can move forward.
In our present climate, empathy can look like staying at home, practicing social distancing, and wearing a mask to protect ourselves and others. Thankfully, my family and I have been free from COVID-19 but I know some people who have not been as fortunate. So I continue to follow precautions because I know it is what is best for everyone, not just me.
Empathy could also involve just being observant. Sometimes it’s not what someone says with their words but what they are saying in between those words that makes a difference. Sometimes it’s not what someone does but what their actions mean that make a difference.
Empathy is remembering that not everything is personal, put yourself to the side for a moment and focusing on what’s going on with the other person.
One of my dearest friends and I often disagree on topics but we have never had a fallen out because of our different viewpoints. There are times when we can see the other person’s point of view and maybe adjust our own viewpoint and other times where we respectfully agree to disagree. At the foundation of our friendship, there is genuine respect for one another which helps to keep the friendship strong. At one point, we had different viewpoints on mental illness and most recently, we had different viewpoints about what it means to exercise our right to vote. This was an instance where I had an “aha” moment.
In conclusion, I think if we are patient with others, empathetic towards others, and respect others, we can have successful relationships, or just keep our dignity.
What are some qualities that you think help make relationships strong?