What a Good Relationship Needs
It seems we’re both reaching the conclusion that you must have worked* on yourself before you can achieve a conflict-free relationship. And what does “work” mean? It means
- Using self reflection to know yourself.
- Being able to step back and look at how you interact with the world, rather than just reflexively acting.
- Separating desire and action – just because you have feelings, doesn’t mean you have to act on them.
- Taking responsibility for your actions and your life.
- Having the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes, both by empathy and by being able to imagine what life would be like if you were in their position.
So what practical tools are available?
- Meditation, of couse. I wrote a series on zazen, but they are other forms of meditation, too, such as Vipassana.
- For people already in a relationship, exercises that break the usual action-reaction cycle are very powerful. Maggie Scarf gave some good ones in The Atlantic.
* I dislike the word “work” so much that I wrote Don’t Work on Your Relationship!, but perhaps if you haven’t worked on yourself, you are faced with doing the work anyway when you are with a partner.