Today’s guest, Greg Williams, and I wrote the book Living a Rich Life together. He has been building the Heart Tools – a toolkit to teach you how to build better relationships. They’re practical, digestible, and actionable steps to move towards deeper, more connected relationships.
How to Improve Your Relationships
Greg discovered that one of the reasons relationships are so challenging is not that we’re not good or loving people – it’s that relationships are complex, and they require a complex set of skills. You don’t sit down to learn the piano and immediately begin playing Mozart.
Learning how to improve your relationships is about breaking down complex skills into simple practices that you master over time, slowly adding more skills to your repertoire. Eventually you’ll be able to love well. There is a deep, lasting value in recognizing what’s happening in your relationship, identifying the path out, seeing the pattern you used to fall into, and knowing you don’t have to choose that anymore.
Something you learn about in Heart Tools is the importance of reciprocity in relationships. It’s your job to love people well, but it is not your job to get other people to love you well. If someone has no desire to be warm towards you or to empathize with you and show you respect, you don’t need to continue investing in that relationship.
Four Stages of Building Better Relationships
There are four different stages of building better relationships. Stage one has three major areas; the first area is being emotionally aware, present, and connected; the second is learning how to protect the value of each person in the relationship; the third is protecting the power of each person in the relationship.
Heart Tools starts with being emotionally aware, present, and connected, and that begins with understanding your emotions and what they are trying to tell you. Each emotion has a specific purpose. Pay attention to what your emotions are trying to tell you.
You might medicate your emotions because the painful ones do not go away — you just build a deep well of anger or sadness, and pretty soon, you need something more intense to help hide that emotion.