The relationships we create and share, whether they are platonic or romantic, can be some of the most important and meaningful experiences of our lives. When done consciously, relationships can be a gateway to growth, depth, and celebration.
You may be familiar with Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which has been a roadmap for many in their pursuit of productivity and excellence. While I wouldn’t suggest we attempt to make our relationships highly effective, I do like the number 7!
Here are 7 pillars I see being crucial in creating relationships that are not only fun and joyful but healing, deep, and soulful. How do they show up and how can you integrate them more in your relationships?
LEAD WITH CURIOSITY
Anytime we engage with another human, really anything can happen. Will we be friends, lovers, business partners, acquaintances, or just another face in the crowd?
When we lead with curiosity and let go of assumptions and expectations, our minds have space to expand, and our energy becomes more present. We also rediscover our child inside, the aspect of us that is naturally curious always wants to come out to play.
COMMUNICATION IS PARAMOUNT
Our willingness to communicate to the fullest and best of our ability using our words, tone, inflection, emotional state, sounds (such as grunts, sighs, etc.), and other body language is vital to nurturing effective relationships.
Without a willingness to communicate authentically, often the other person experiences doubt, a loss of trust, and even confusion as it leaves their mind wondering what is really happening for us.
The stories and assumptions our monkey minds make up to fill the void often leads to misunderstanding and loss of connection.
When we place a high value on our willingness to share ourselves as fully and as authentically as we can, it naturally invites the other person to do the same, creating a field of permission for deeper dialogue and connection.
BUILD TRUST, NOT WALLS
It can be easy to approach connection with hesitation, caution, and mistrust. Some people naturally trust first, while others require trust to be built over time. Both approaches are valid since the intention and desire are the same.
In either case, building and creating a meaningful relationship requires that at least one person in the interaction drops their guard first. Otherwise, if two people attempt to connect, and both parties have walls up, there is no flow or opportunity to deepen the connection.
Giving others the confidence that in any situation, favorable or not, that we will authentically communicate with them our thoughts and feelings helps create a sense of security, settles our inner unease, builds trust, and keeps the doors of curiosity and possibility open.
GIVE THE GIFT OF FREEDOM & PERMISSION
Offering freedom and permission to others creates an opportunity for both parties to step forward vulnerability and share more than they would if there was expectation, demand, or judgment.
Often the most tender aspects of our being are the parts that have been shamed, numbed, and avoided. Ironically, these are the parts that also desire the most to be seen, heard, and felt just as they are.
When we offer each other a space of safety for these parts to gently step out of the shadows, we find there is more of each other to love as the process of mutual revealing and expression helps each other to integrate and come back to wholeness.
ALL EMOTIONS ARE WELCOME
Growing up, most of us were told, either directly or indirectly, that our emotions weren’t ok. Often when we felt sad, mad, angry, or afraid, we were told our feelings and tears weren’t ok, to ignore them, and often that they were too much.
As we grow older and seek to create meaningful relationships, it’s important to let our partners know that all emotions are welcome.
While it is vital that we continue to learn to own our emotions and not to project or demand another to carry them for us, it is also equally important that we not hold back with each other as this reinforces disempowering patterns.
Instead, when we welcome each other to feel and experience the full range of our emotions, we co-create depth of connection and build bridges of intimacy that are meaningful, healing, and authentic. To know someone through their emotions is to know their essence, honor their younger self, and love their whole being.
RESPONSIBILITY IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY
Meaningful relationships require everyone involved to be in ownership of their experience. While it can, of course, be helpful to have support and to have others to share our challenges with, at the end of the day, each of us is ultimately responsible for ourselves.
This intelligence helps us avoid co-dependent tendencies and allows for deep safety. When we know that the other person can and will ultimately take care of themselves, it creates space and flexibility. When we feel the other is rooted in themselves, we no longer feel weighed down by the relationship.
Instead, we feel light, free to move, and in that movement, the dance that is shared together is able to be expansive, playful, and meaningful. This concept is explored more in my post about Responsible Vulnerability.
CO-CREATE WITH INTENTION
Co-creation is the idea that it not only takes two to tango, but to do it well requires both dancers’ full participation. Instead of one person pushing another towards some goal or agenda, co-creation honors both individuals and ask with curiosity what is possible.
Life, and often the humans that inhabit it, can be uncertain and unpredictable. When we intentionally co-create with another, we invite each person to bring all their gifts, emotions, thoughts, and desires to the table and with curiousity asks what could be built together.
Relationships that are co-created honor the sovereignty of both individuals bring all the other pillars full circle, and provide rich and fertile soil for seeds of authenticity, love, and meaning.