By Mehr Gupta
We as humans desire long, successful relationships. Whether it’s with a partner, friends or family, we are social creatures, and how well we communicate and interact with others contributes to our well-being.
No one is perfect, but very often the patterns and behaviors that limit us to having a fully blooming relationship root from one major attitude: selfishness.
Despite our unconscious selfish instincts and pressure from contemporary culture to put ourselves first, selfishness can be overcome to create mutually supportive partnerships.
A key to self-improvement is the ability to monitor your thoughts and actions, or “check yourself.” This means being aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If you are annoyed at a friend, for example, think about why you are annoyed. Is it something he or she said? Is it important? Will you still be mad about this tomorrow?
Whatever it is, allow yourself react before you act. It’s OK to feel angry, but let the anger dissipate before you talk to your friend about what he or she has done and how it makes you feel.
Yelling or arguing may provide immediate gratification but can lead to arguments that are meaningless and trivial. Checking yourself instead addresses the situation in a way that is productive.
2. Watch the space you take up
When we are around others, we are communicating and exchanging thoughts and ideas. Unless people are silent or everyone is speaking at once, there’s usually one speaker at a time. It’s important to be aware of how much space you take up –– how much you are dominating an interaction at a certain place and time.
If you notice yourself taking up way more space than those around you, you should consider stepping back. This means opening yourself up to hear other voices, possibly from people who seem silent.
Appropriately stepping back or stepping up maintains the balance we need to give our partners and ourselves the opportunity to get out of our comfort zones and develop a healthy, communicative relationship that fosters mutual growth.
3. Give without receiving
To perform acts that are genuinely unselfish, we must give without the expectation of receiving anything in return. This makes the person you’re interacting with feel loved and appreciated and helps you overcome your selfish impulses.
When you do nice things, shift your intentions to the pure act of doing something nice. You may receive something back, or you may not, but that doesn’t matter — additional benefits are just a bonus. Unselfishly giving will help you adopt a mental attitude toward love in which doing nice things is its own reward.