Relationships are rife with conflict. But make no mistake: relationships are also our number one source of happiness. Nothing else comes close to it.
Success, wealth, or achievement can’t take the place of fulfilling relationships. Nothing else tugs as tight on our hearts or delights our spirits more than a relationship that meets our longing for belonging.
This, unfortunately, is where the problem lies.
We want to belong. We want to feel like we’re not alone.
Whether that’s home with a partner you love…
Or in the office, feeling like you’re valued and appreciated…
Or around friends and family; those who understand what you’re like…
You long to belong!
This places a lot of pressure on your relationships. Maybe you put so much pressure on yours that you define your happiness and self-worth based on the strength of them. You want them to be strong and healthy. So, as soon as you hit a problem you immediately jump to a solution to improve it.
Maybe this is why you’re reading this article right now…
The problem with this is, you miss the most important aspect that impacts your relationships.
And, you overlook the actual root cause of your pain: your own wholeness.
Although relationships are the number one source of happiness, they will never complete you.
If you try to build intimacy with another before you have gotten whole on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself. This is why so many relationships fall flat or fail. Nobody else can complete you. Not a friend, colleague, family member, or even your soul mate.
Nobody can do that work for you.
They can help you, as iron sharpens iron.
But you are the one who must do the work.
Any relationship you have with another can only be as healthy as the one you have with yourself.
So although you may have arrived here wanting to improve your relationship with your:
… I’ll instead encourage you to focus on the relationship you have with yourself.
There’s a lot that goes into making yourself whole. It’s often a life-long journey.
The sooner you start it, the better; the sooner you can finally be whole and feel like you belong.
Until you feel whole, nobody else will fill the void.
You can read books and try every trick in them, but you’ll keep returning to the same point.
Here are a few ways you can move toward wholeness.
Whatever your baggage or background, I know at least one thing about you:
Each day you either move away from or toward the person you want to be.
You’re either maximizing your moments or allowing them to slip by without notice.
It’s hard to know which camp you fit into unless you know where you’re heading.
Too many people live life with no thought of where they’re going.
Yet if you want to feel whole, you must first define what it is.
This is unique to you, too. For one person, feeling whole may involve: the freedom to work wherever you like, whenever you like; feeling healthy and fit; have time each day to reflect and enjoy a little “me” time…
Whereas for someone else, feeling whole may center around: family, spending time with your kids each day and enjoying adventures with one another.
There is no right or wrong.
It’s about what’s right for you.
What makes you whole?
What does wholeness look like to you?
Nobody is perfect. Not even healthy and happy people.
In fact, the truly healthy and happy ones own their dark side; their ugly parts
They recognize and study their personal flaws, wounds, and idiosyncrasies.
Knowing they have blind spots, they’re on an unending quest for better self-insight.
Through good times and bad, they continue on their journey to improve. Their brokenness and failures become the reason to grow, not a deterrent from it. They embrace that they’ll never be perfect.
They may never quite reach the point they’re driving toward.
And they are okay with this because their real purpose is the journey they’re on.
To use the thoughts of Epicurus: the most contented people remember the past with gratitude and accept their present situation without coveting what someone else has.
We all have a past.
Some of it is good.
Other parts of it are bad.
To become whole, you must accept the past for what it is; to be at peace with it; grateful, even.
It’s impossible to feel content with what you have, otherwise.
How can you possibly live in the moment if you cling to the past?
Yet once you do live in the moment, you can be thankful and grateful for what you have.
No longer envious of what other people own, you can finally become whole.
“I never knew I had a choice.”
It’s the saddest sentence I ever hear when counseling someone.
Many things in life are beyond your control.
But there is a vast, unclaimed territory of actions over which you do.
These actions involve the countless choices you make—or do not make—every day.
These choices go on to define your life and how you feel about… everything.
Whatever your situation is, I promise you that you do have a choice.
If you wish to become whole, it’s within your control.
If you want to heal your relationships (with others and yourself), you can choose to whenever you like.
This final step is actually the first one.
Before you can define where you’re going and who you want to become, you must first appreciate where you are.
A question I’m often asked is:
What’s the single most important thing you can do for your relationships?
I offer a simple answer: Get Healthy!
When relationships go bad, we look for things (or people) to blame.
We expect relationships to make us feel better about ourselves.
This is wrong. It’s the other way around.
Our relationships improve once we improve the one we have with ourselves.
This begins once you gain an awareness of where you are.
You are not perfect and you never will be. So, embrace the point you’re at.
To help you discover this, I’ve prepared a Free Assessment you can take. This free assessment shows you ways you can destroy toxic self-talk and revolutionize your relationships.
The way you talk to yourself prevents you from being (and feeling) whole.
Take back control. Once you do, you can mend those relationships that feel most broken.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Les Parrott is a psychologist and author of best-selling books including Love Talk, The Good Fight, Crazy Good Sex, and the award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.
His work has been featured in the New York Times and USA Today and on CNN, Good Morning America, the Today Show, The View, and Oprah.
Please check out his latest work and take his free assessment for the health of your self talk (and relationships) by visiting HealthyMeHealthyUs.com.
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.