Often when we declare we want better relationships, what we really want is the other person to change. We believe if they had different behaviors then we would get along better. If they acted differently, we would feel better. Yet, in actuality, the journey towards enhanced relationships with others is lined with self awareness.
We must start with ourselves. Getting to know ourselves; Honoring our soft tender spots; And owning how our reactions impact our relationships.
The path towards this self awareness requires a gentle willingness to focus on situations where we are triggered in some manner and being willing to sit with our experience without using old ineffective tools to suppress the discomfort or blame other's for it.
The more aware you can become of your thoughts, feelings and actions in different situations the more likely you will be able to make conscious decisions about how you'd like to proceed in the future. When we actually get to make decisions instead of reacting, we move into an acute realm of consciousness where our thoughts and behaviors are what we actually want them to be.
We react in a certain manner because we want to act in that way. We are no longer impulsive and we tend to hurt others less often.
The key to moving in this highly advanced direction is being able to grow the ability to observe ourselves in the moment. And the road to this destination begins with observing our feelings and actions with NO JUDGEMENT. Judgement tends to be critical. Criticism breeds internal defensiveness or self hatred... neither one of those allowing for healthy change.
Here are 5 simple ways to develop this skill:
Feel a reaction brewing inside of you. Often these are referred to as triggers. You may feel irritation or heat in your body as you experiencing something that you don't like in yourself or in others.
Notice how you are engaging in that reaction WITHOUT judging that reaction. For example saying to yourself "Oh this is interesting, I'm having a strong reaction to what John is saying right now".
Breath into that reaction with curiosity. Our breath helps to calm and regulate the nervous system allowing us to have control over our actions.
Acknowledge the choices you may have in a situation. Just noticing you have choices will allow you to feel more in control of your reactions no matter what you choose.
Experiment with choosing something that feels more proactive and in alignment with your ideal reaction. Become a non-judgmental observer.
Becoming non-judgmental observers of our lives opens up the possibility of recognition and change. The best way to do this is developing access to the following phrase:
"Oh wow.. isn't this interesting". Whenever we notice we are triggered in a situation or having strong reactions or feelings, if we can be interested instead of in judgement (with regards to ourselves or others) we have the option in that conscious moment to make decisions that help us grow in awareness of ourselves. The greater this awareness becomes, the better our relationship with others become.