build strong relationships, couples therapy, couples counseling

San Francisco is fast paced, exciting and challenging. We are constantly driven to do more, aim higher and go-go-go. This highly competitive environment is exhilarating whether you are an adrenaline junky or not, but for the majority of us there is also another side of the coin that has a real cost to our well-being.  How do you build strong relationships?

The truth is that the majority of us are affected by stress, anxiety and/or depression. In fact, 75% of adults reported feeling moderate to high levels of stress the past month and nearly half say their stress has increased the last year. Financial worries, work, family responsibilities and health concerns are our top worry bins. The mental and physical health costs are staggering as a direct result of how we live our lives.

Looking at social media you would never know that we are doing anything less than fabulous with one picture after the next telling the story of success. Can you recall friends asking for support as they are facing a difficult time on social media? Because that seems to be a very relevant question to “friends” at least some of the time. We admire the trivial, get worried we don’t measure up, don’t share our worries and also fail to notice that the substantive and meaningful is missing in what others are sharing. Our social media avatars have taken over from our real life selves.

There are of course advantages to social media, but research proves it has also left us feeling lonely. The quantities of our interactions have increased, but the quality of our connection with others has suffered greatly. The main way we communicate is through social media posts and text. This seriously impedes the quality of our interactions, which in turns lessens our social skills.

The fact that our verbal conversations have decreased has led to increased isolation and not feeling confident in how we share genuinely. We humans are social creatures and need real conversations to feel safe and happy. Not only do we casually enjoy our relationships, but also we fundamentally need deeper relationships to thrive both mentally and physically.   

How do we foster meaningful relationships in the face of social media and limited time? How can we take better care of ourselves when the hits of likes, swiping right, and instant, fleeting social gratification has made us easily distracted and addicted to quick releases of dopamine to try to feel good in the moment?

Devoting time with those we care for, or want to care for, without the distraction of the screen is key. In hearing another person’s voice, reading their facial expression and body language we take in others with a context and nuance that is lost in the one-dimensional screen time. As you jump on social media to feel connected you need to ask yourself if your ‘friends’ really know you? And if not, what and how can you change?

Here are five things to keep in mind to build meaningful relationships:

  1. Prioritize. Spend quality time with those who matter. Friendships need to be nurtured and prioritized. For someone to feel close it requires 1-2 phone conversations a week and at least one in person meeting a month. Who is important to you? Who would you like to get to know better?
  2. Start. Everyone wants to connect in a meaningful way, but because we do it less and less we feel insecure about how. Don’t over complicate. It can be a simple “hey, want to grab coffee?” Everyone appreciates being thought about. Get something on the calendar.
  3. Show Up. Let people know they are important to you. Show up for key life events and do thoughtful things such as cards and presents on special occasions. Selfless giving and an appreciation for others are actions that give positive return every time.
  4. Listen. In a world of noise we have undervalued the art of asking questions and truly listen to the other persons response. Showing that you are interested in the other person rather than waiting to speak, makes the other person feel that you really care.
  5. Know you. You own emotional intelligence is key. In knowing yourself and learning how to truly care for yourself, your boundaries and priorities you learn to appreciate yourself and, yes, love you. After all how can you expect others to know and love you if you don’t?

Therapy is the absolute most effective method to make long lasting positive changes in your life.  How you think and feel about yourself affects everything in your life, including the quality of your personal and work relationships. Self-knowledge, acceptance and excellent interpersonal skills make you a happier and healthier person. At 360 Relationship we combine therapy with coaching in our own blend that is progressive and research-based. You can expect positive changes in how you communicate and love to radically change your relationships and life.

Call us at 415.813.5454 to book a complimentary call to see how we can help.  You can also click on the Book Free Consult button on our homepage to set up a free 20 minute consultation.