02/20 Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Most of what we write about here, not surprisingly, comes from what’s on our radar at the time. Recently, it’s been relationships, relationships, relationships!  Whether it’s our clients, our friends, or ourselves, we’re hearing that people seem to be inordinately struggling with feelings of being misunderstood, confused, resentful, taken advantage of, etc.

Is it because it’s the month of love? Or because it’s the month of love but we’re not feeling it? Because political tensions are flaring here, there, and everywhere? Or is it just that we are succumbing to the negativity bias and overlooking what is going well in the world?

Regardless, we are trying to resist the pull to pessimism and focus on ways to appreciate and improve our relationships. This includes strategies like those we mentioned last month for encouraging dialogue and inviting people with whom we have differences to share their story. It also includes considering the values or intentions of others–trying to figure out the positive reasons they’re doing what they’re doing even if we don’t agree with their methods of doing so. Another strategy we enjoy is identifying our own and other peoples’ strengths and determining how those might be either conflicting or complimenting each other.

Gioia, in her work with service members and their families, has been introducing Healthy Relationships Affirmations as a way to enhance positive relationships. Using affirmations helps us focus on how we want to feel when we are most empowered and gratified in our relationships.

Gioia identified that one affirmation “I care for others and let others care for me” personally resonated for her because, although she’s great at giving help she struggles with asking for it and positively bristles if people try to give it to her unsolicited. She’s figured out that it has something to do with maintaining her independence and, perhaps more importantly, with being self-reliant.

Gioia illustrated how she uses these affirmations with her clients, combining them with Creative Journaling techniques by writing about them and then doing some artwork in response. As always, we recommend mixing the two approaches because it allows us to access and express our thoughts and feelings in ways that can both make us feel better and give us new insights. We’ve included a handy time-lapse video of the technique so you can see, regardless of how “artsy” you are or are not, how easy and fun it can be.

We suggest that you look through the list of healthy relationships (click here) and see if any of them resonate for you. If none do, feel free to make your own affirmation. For example, Rebecca crafted one that she felt she needed to focus on: “I feel acceptance and appreciation of others even when they can’t meet my expectations”. When you’ve got one that resonates for you, do some Creative Journaling about what it brings up for you. Focus especially on how it would feel if the affirmation were fully realized.

Appreciatively, Gioia and Rebecca

Art directive
Make your own affirmation or look through this list and pick one or two that resonate for you. As Gioia did in this time lapse video, transcribe the affirmation(s) in a decorative way on a journal page and elaborate about what it brings up for you in writing and images. Add more about what comes up for you in the process. Feel free to post your responses on our Facebook page.  We’d love to see them.