My therapist once said -well, maybe not once but a few times :-), “anyone can feel enlightened sitting in meditation alone inside a cave or on a deserted island.” Relationships are invitations to exercise introspection, self-awareness, generosity, boundaries, and empathy. They test how we hold to our values and what matters to us.

Relationships are like stepping into a room full of mirrors! And the most intimate and closest the relationship, the more we are likely to be confronted with the different versions of ourselves we sometimes don’t want or can’t see. So, we can run away and hide in our old patterns and habits or … we can see it as an invitation to pull up our sleeves and do the work.

When we believe that most of the difficulties in our couples‘ life, friendships or family relationships are caused by other people, change won’t happen. Relationships build trust by listening to the other person’s difficult emotions with empathy and full attention.

Healthy relationships involve opening enough space for the other person to expand, grow, and express their needs and desires rather than asking them to shrink to fit into our fixed world and expectations.

Change? Who, me? No way, Jose!

Change is not about changing who we are as a person. Change is a call to examine our actions and inactions. Perhaps we need to change behaviours and old habits that do not contribute to the well-being and sometimes even the relationship’s survival.

The opportunities for growth and evolution reside in our willingness to look deeply inside ourselves and take personal responsibility.

A truthful and compassionate process of self-examination allows us to become less defensive and more open to new perspectives and to compromise without losing ourselves or who we are.

Small things mean the world.

One of the concepts I’ve learned from my ongoing training with The Gottman Institute is that doing the little things e-v-e-r-y day in a relationship contributes to strengthening the bonding and taking the uncertainty out of a partnership. Small gestures increase empathy, intimacy, security, and well-being.

Paying attention to ways to fulfilling wants and needs, engaging in meaningful conversation, showing everyday acts of kindness, and expressing appreciation can all be done in small ways.