3 tools to build healthier relationships

I just joined the respectful parenting Facebook group. While exploring the group, I discovered that Facebook has a guide module. This guide module allows users to craft and package content for other users. I tried following one of the guides (30 days of calm and connection) and shall attempt to summarise the things that stood out for me in the first few days.

#1 Vocabulary of feelings

Feeling Wheel, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The first day invites you to check in on how you are feeling. The author used another website that listed a range of words that could be used to describe one’s feelings. I came across this wheel of emotions a couple of years back and appreciated that it helped organised emotions into clearer categories. This deviates from Plutchik’s emotion wheel slightly, but what I like about this is it offers a lot more words.

While the intent is for us to check in on ourselves, I see deep value in this being used as a way to raise a child’s emotional vocabulary (I alluded to the need to build this vocab in an earlier post). We often ask our children or students how they are feeling. The problem is if you can’t name it, it may cause you to feel more frustrated. The wheel also allows us to converge onto what we might really be feeling and thereby allow us to be more targeted at the type of interventions we want to engage in.

#2 Introspection

We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are


I love this quote, it’s a reminder to pause. Everytime we see something happening and we automatically react to it, it’s a good time to pause and ask ourselves what are we seeing? What does it tell us about ourselves?

For example, we see our child engaging in a seemingly dangerous act, we raise our voices, we scold the child telling him that it is dangerous. What we saw was the potential manifestation of our fear. In the lens of the child though, he only saw fun. By recognising that we are donning the lens of fear, it may free us to explore through the lens of the child and realise that he only sees fun. It then allows us to Connect before Correcting. Gaining the perspective of the child allows us to articulate it, articulating it communicates to the child that we can see things as they are and that creates a connection.

I think we have more to gain from doing so than merely telling the child to stop it.

#3 The story I’m making up – Brene Brown

Read the full story here. Brene Brown shares about how these 5 words can be used as a powerful tool to deepen conversations.

The impact of these 5 words is two-fold, it disarms the offensive arsenal of the speaker of these words and it disarms the defenses of the listener of these words.

To the speaker, it reminds us that what we’re sharing is merely a perspective. It invites to offer our perspective and cautions us to listen to the response of the listener.

To the listener, it tells them that it may not be true and extends an invitation to the listener to defend if necessary. The funny thing is, when we’re not told to be defensive, we end up being defensive. But when we’re told that we can be defensive, we generally try to be more measured in our responses.

These 3 simple ideas provide us with tools to navigate and build healthier relationships with the people who matter to us.

Cover image by pszz from Flickr

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