Creating friendships and relationships were much simpler when we were younger. It had more to do with who was in your proximity at that specific time in your life and sharing common experiences.
As we grow older, our paths begin to divert and we adjust to the rhythm which life is moving, and often times we find our relationships changing with it.
A huge part of life is cultivating relationships not only with family and friends, but in all aspects including romantic partners, work colleagues, and even within ourselves. As adults, it gets harder to keep up with our inner circles when we have a family to take care of, a career that’s developing, and living day to day. To foster positive relationships, you must first accept that sometimes certain relationships change, but fostering and maintaining the positive ones is how to achieve more in life.
Here are ways to check and see if you are cultivating positive relationships in all areas of your life by assessing and asking:
1. Assess Your Big Five
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn, once said,
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Instead of reflecting on just five, take it one step further by reflecting on the five people you spend the most time with in different areas of your life – personal, work, and family.
A great starting point is seeing how present you are in that very moment.
For example, you decide to grab coffee with a long-time friend whom you catch up every couple of months. During the conversation, do you find yourself checking your phone every five minutes or going through a list of things you could be doing instead? If so, it may be time to see how much value you’re getting from this particular relationship.
Some relationships overgrow one another throughout time, and that’s completely normal. As selfish it may sound, your time is just as valuable.
2. Listen to the Way You Converse with Others
Have you ever taken a moment to listen to how you carry conversations with your friends, family, partner, and most importantly – yourself? Sometimes we get caught up in storytelling, that we don’t pay much attention to the language that we’re using or how we’re using it.
Are you present and attentive when you’re having dinner with your family?
Are you on your phone when you’re having date night with your partner?
Do you spend your lunch breaks listening to workplace gossip?
Check-in with how you feel when these conversations are occurring. Part of fostering positive relationships means making sure you feel good when you have them because it’s the experience we feel on a daily basis that shapes our days ahead.
If you notice that you’re surrounded by negativity, try distancing yourself with those or try shifting the conversation towards a different direction. If you’re noticing you are on your phone during family time, dive a little deeper and see what is capturing your attention and why.
Sometimes the answer lies not only where you are at that specific moment, but where your mind is.
3. Listen to How You Converse with Yourself
There are important conversations we have daily, but the most important ones are the conversations we have with ourselves. It may surprise you how we speak to ourselves compared to how we speak to others. Often times we’re harder, more unforgiving, and critical, which can affect the relationships we have with those around us.
Everyone goes through negative self-talk, but it comes down to how loud that voice becomes. There are great consequences that come from negative self-talk that then creates a poor self-image of ourselves. That image also affects our relationships.
“I’m not good enough to be with anyone and that’s why I’m single.”
“I’m not a decent friend and that why I never get invited anywhere.”
“I’m a horrible worker and that is the reason why I never get a promotion.”
Would these be things you tell a friend? Probably not. So why have these conversations with yourself? Your inner vibrations and feelings always flows outwards and is what attracts those to you.
4. Do We Share Core Values?
The older we get, it can get harder to make friends – good friends, too. When we were younger, the common bonding ground stemmed off favorite television shows and school sports. But as we continue to develop careers, have families, and expand our growth both mentally and physically, it may be hard to keep up with our inner circle, let alone ourselves.
It’s not distance that keeps people and relationships apart, but the differences in core values. As humans, we seek mental company over physical company, and this becomes more prominent when we’re older.
Sharing core values go beyond having a friend who shares the common liking of eating at a particular restaurant or taking a spin class once a week together; it’s sharing that core value of wanting to put fitness and health as a priority or enjoying the challenge of committing to an activity.
Keep in mind that not all core values have to overlap. Having different values and ideas also foster positive relationships.
5. Invest in Friendships That Grow Through Life
I have a healthy long-distance friendship with my roommate from college because we make it a point to check-in often. Whether it’s a quick five minutes on Facetime or sending each other a picture that reminded us of that person, checking in even during life’s busiest days help bring bursts of energy throughout the day – especially for long distance relationships from opposite sides of the world.
So much has changed since college, but having that timeless relationship has created a stronger bond without forced catch-up sessions and guilty apologizing for not making enough time. It’s a mutual understanding that time has changed and growing with it rather than resisiting it.
6. Look into How You’re Feeling at Work
Having healthy and positive relationships with work colleagues is always ideal, but we all know this isn’t the case.
First and foremost, ask yourself if you like what you are doing, better yet, if “you’re feeling good at work.” Believe it or not, it all stems down to your emotions and the energy you give off that will either attract your coworkers to you or push them away from you. Would you want to invite Negative Nancy to coffee and listen to her complain about all her customers? Probably not.
Like every other aspect in life, you have to enjoy where you are spending 40 hours of your time and with whom. If you’re feeling good at work, you’ll feel more aligned and in tuned with those around you that lead to healthier relationships.
7. Treat a Relationship Like a Partnership
Your partner has probably seen the worst and the best parts of you – every part of you that makes you human. In all relationships, there are highs and lows. There are moments when the romance may feel fizzled or be caught up in knotted tension, and moments when euphoria takes over and the both of you are unstoppable.
A part of having a positive relationship means having healthy arguments . If you’re able to have a disagreement without yelling and screaming, while taking two steps back to figure out the problem together – then you’re on the right track. Here are some things to keep in mind during a heated argument:
Are you still putting your partner first even during disagreements?
Are you looking for a solution, rather than a safe way out?
Are you able to place your pride aside in the meantime?
Fostering a positive relationship means understanding the situation from the other person’s perspective, while coming up with a solution together.
The lessons we learn in our personal and professional lives reflect on how we communicate with others. It helps us grow, understand, and assess the value that we are bringing into all our relationships, and in return add value to those relationships. All it takes is a few moments of checking-in with others as well as yourself.