The power of gratitude in our relationships:
Continuing on with my theme of gratitude, today I was drawn to how gratitude can affect our relationships. Personally, I have always been of the mind set that relationships are great, but if it has a negative impact on my life I'd rather be on my own than unhappy and stay with someone just to be with someone. However, when you’re blessed enough to be in a healthy, loving relationship there is no better feeling in the world. Just thinking back to relationships that didn't last, makes me feel very grateful for the time when I'm in a relationship but also the time I took out to just be 'with' myself and how much I learnt.
Looking at the times I have been in a happy relationship, I think some of the most powerful 'moments' are when we are in total appreciation of each other. It can start from something relatively small like making dinner or acknowledging the hard work that the other has put into the ironing but the results are huge. It sparks a powerful, loving cycle of positive energy. It not only fills us both with love but inspires us to do more.
Being grateful even in the face of adversity is also very powerful. A good time to practice this- and it is well worth the effort- is when things have gone wrong for you or your partner. For example, if the dinner has gone wrong or they had a bad day, you can still turn it around by saying 'This didn't work out the way I/you planned but does it really matter? I'm so grateful that you tried and that you're here now' and just feel the love grow.
I have also found the opposite to be true, if your partner comes in complaining, unappreciative of the dinner or efforts you have put into something or even just not acknowledging you may have had stresses in your day - you shut down, don't want to be around them and feel unloving in response. It is not always easy to be grateful but that's where the work beings. If a relationship is worth being in then it's worth putting the work in! If not then you are always free to be single- it's your choice right?
So how can we improve our relationship by being grateful?
Well here are a few steps that'll help whether you have just meet the person, are in a long term relationship or are just planning on having healthy relationships in the future:
A) You have to FEEL grateful, not just talk the words. The true power is in the feeling because our emotions are just
bi products of our thoughts. So looking for happier thoughts about what our mate is doing will produce happier feelings. This will feel like genuine love and appreciation to your mate. Make sure you pay attention to the positive behaviour and let them know you're acknowledging what they have done. This will also motive them to do the same for you, putting you both in the appreciation cycle and feeling great.
B) Say the words 'Thank You'. Having feelings of gratitude is important but forgetting to say thank you is huge. Even if it's something you think they 'should' be doing like looking after the kids, it's still important to say thank you- just think what would happen if they weren't there doing it?. We all have a choice and that person can choose to leave your life at any moment. It is way too easy to get caught up thinking' 'I'm working hard at this or that - what are they doing' or ‘they're not working hard as me they don’t know what I go through everyday’ etc etc. If you really feel like that then all you’re doing is blaming them for your life choices. That will just bring resentment on both sides and be a slippery road for your relationship.
C) Grateful actions. Giving a hug or a kiss- when someone has done something nice or positive for you just shows them that you’re acknowledging them and their actions. Also why not keep the positive feelings going by doing something nice back for them in return.
If all else fails:
Of course with some people you could be fighting a losing battle, even from the first date. There are some that just cannot express feelings of gratitude for whatever reason and think that the world owes them everything and they have to give little in return.
If you feel that no matter what you do the person doesn't return the appreciation, then it maybe time to sit and talk about what you both need from this relationship. Give them a chance to know how you feel, but if they don't listen or simply cannot improve their behaviour then you have to rethink your choice of being with them. You cannot change another IF they don't want to change. Having a relationship with someone like this can feel like a cold, thankless chore rather than a healthy loving relationship. It maybe time to be brave and move on. After all, could you really take years of this?
I shall be exploring this more in my next Blog: ‘Having gratitude for past relationships (even the bad ones!)’
Until then..... Thank You for reading.
"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us". Albert Schweitzer
By Natalie Walker
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The power of gratitude in our relationships: