How to Have Truly Happy Relationships, or, The A’s(Acknowledgement, Appreciation & Acceptance)
To make an analogy, let’s say that each partner has 10 self-esteem ‘dollars’ intheir ‘bank’ to begin with. Some of these may have been lost or gained throughtheir life experiences and the ways they’ve interpreted them until the presentmoment, but nevertheless, as two stand-alone people, they’ve got about 10dollars to begin with.Practising the three A’s simply facilitates keeping their ‘self esteem banks’topped up. Unless they are at a reasonable and stable level, the person will feelunable to truly be themselves in the relationship (so will fall into traps such aslosing themselves in the relationship, rescuing or trying to be what the otherperson wants them to be subconsciously, taking the other for granted, etc).
1. Acknowledgement -
validating worth, showing respect
Acknowledgement: being able and willing to agree that your partner is havingthe experience that they say they are having.
A lot of the time in relationships, one or both partners don’t feel ‘heard’ by theother. The couple might talk lots, about lots of things, but as individuals theymight not feel that their thoughts, feelings and emotions are validated by theother person. This affects their sense of worth in the relationship, and worth as aperson.Often when one partner starts to express something, the other partner has oneof two responses, which have been conditioned into many of us in our childhood:a) to try and ‘fix’ the problem, rather than just listenb) to try and defend against what they’ve said as though it were a blamestatement.Often, they don’t mean either of these, there are no subversive manipulatoryintentions, they just want to talk, to foster emotional intimacy. And the result of the two points above? Feeling misunderstood, feeling a lack of sense of connection, feeling alone, like it’s easier to shut out rather than open up to theother person.Giving acknowledgement often means practising Active Listening. Which meansthat when you are in a conversation, particularly an important one, you don’tspend the whole time planning rebuttals or trying to convince the other personthat you’re right. Not at all – in doing this, you don’t really listen to what theother person is saying, but rather you subconsciously put your perspectives oneverything you hear.Active listening means actually consciously listening to what the other person issaying, and accepting that their experience of reality is different to yours(everyone is an individual, and so everyone experiences things differently – weall see the world through different mental and emotional lenses). Active listeningmeans allowing yourself to accept that there isn’t one true reality, and that yourthoughts, feelings, emotions and views have just as much credence and worth asthose of the people around you. They have worth too, no more or less than youor any other being.