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7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Relationships

Now that spring is here, I thought I’d offer a few tips for some “relationship spring cleaning.”

Try these with your partner, friends, family, or even coworkers.

1. Listen more. Even if the other person already does most of the talking, how carefully do you typically listen? Challenge yourself to tune in to what they’re saying, rather than letting your mind wander.

2. Make time. The word “relationship” may be a noun, but “relate” is a verb. It’s something you do, not something you have. Relating takes time and attention, but these pay huge dividends.

3. Be the change you want to see in the relationship. Anything you want more of — understanding, respect, patience — give it to the other person. Relationships change when one person does something differently.

4. Replace old habits with new ones. It’s hard to remember to not-do something, so instead, pick a new habit and start doing that. Instead of criticizing, validate. Instead of over-helping, pay attention to your breath.

5. Have the talk you’ve been needing to have. Use “I” statements and take responsibility for your part. Be clear on where you want things to go from here.

6. Feed the relationships you want to grow. All of the above steps do that. Also tell the people you like or love how you feel about them. Don’t assume they know.

7. Starve the relationships you no longer want. Be kind to people who have accidentally been allowed to wander into your life, but don’t give them your energy. You don’t have to kick a stray cat if you want it to go away. All you have to do is not feed it.

Do you have a relationship tip to share? Please leave a comment below.

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting, and ReconnectionClub.com, an online support and information hub for parents. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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0 Responses to "7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Relationships"

  • susan
    March 28, 2015 - 12:44 pm Reply

    Thank u tina~I respect and value yur advice♡

  • Eve
    March 29, 2015 - 2:55 pm Reply

    But what do you do about those people (and cats) who won’t go away if you “open the door and let them in” even just once?? Sometimes, they ignore there is even a door and find some way to come in and rob you. (of your attention and thus, your energy) I have a few of those I need to stand my ground and give boundaries to. However, I am a naturally open person to begin with, but I also am a “mark” because I have little energy to keep the line where I draw it. And when someone figures that out, they won’t back off. Two of the people who do this to me are one friend and one relative whom I want to keep a relationship with. The other one I definitely want to kick to the curb. I’ve struggled (and or been victimized) all of my adult life and have not succeeded in this particular area. One reason I think, is because when I grew up, not giving what was wanted (by my mother, older brother, and/or sister, was just asking for trouble. My dad was in his own world so I didn’t get any back-up either. Although I am aware of all of this, it’s the “doing” part that has me stalled. Do you have any idea (I know you do!!) how to move past that blockage and make people get the point and R-E-S-P-E-C-T me?

    • Tina Gilbertson
      March 30, 2015 - 2:54 pm Reply

      It’s the “doing” part that gets all of us stalled at one time or another. If it were easy to do things we need to do, I’d be out of a job as a therapist… which is okay with me. My backup plan is to be a dolphin trainer.

      Anyway, what you’re talking about is boundaries. Yes, it takes efforts to maintain them. But I don’t know of another solution.

      I have a hard time with these myself sometimes, so I wrote an article about them. You can see it here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/constructive-wallowing/201407/because-i-said-so

      Thanks for sharing your experience, and good luck with those people (and cats) you want to go away.

  • Sandra Wray
    June 21, 2015 - 7:22 am Reply

    Be your true self in a relationship,.. so many of us are especially women want the man so badly (low self asteem ) , that they pretend it is ok to go or do what the other wants.Stop trying so hard to be the PERFECT girlfriend, and just be you ..If you are true to yourself from the beginning and stay true through out the relationship , then you end up a happier couple with fewer problems…

    • Tina Gilbertson
      June 21, 2015 - 11:01 am Reply

      Thank you for those wise words, Sandra, and for visiting today.

      • Eve
        June 25, 2015 - 7:26 pm Reply

        But Sandra, when I do that I wind up on the porch with the cats.

        Tina, how about mace?… or I could carry a pet skunk in my pocket…

  • house cleaning
    August 21, 2015 - 3:54 am Reply

    This blog gives accurate and precise information, Thanks for sharing.

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