Valentine’s day is upon us. Most of us focus on romance at this time of year but it can also be an opportunity to be mindful of how we relate to of our all friends and loved ones. I recently re-read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I was reminded of how much impact the simple principles in this small book can have on relationships.
1. Be impeccable with your word. Use your words to build up the people in your life, not to tear them down. Be generous with compliments and praise. Tell people that you love them. Engage in non-violent communication; if you must disagree with someone, do it gently. Remember that thoughts are like words that have yet to be spoken. Practice giving others the benefit of the doubt. If you notice yourself being negative or critical, replace that thought with a kind one. After all even the most challenging people have positive aspects.
2. Don’t take anything personally. How many times have you let yourself be wounded by someone’s behavior, only to find out that his or her choices had nothing to do with you at all? Maybe your husband was grumpy because he was tired, or your friend forgot to call because she had a child home from school with a cold. What if your son isn’t ignoring you but is deep in his own thoughts, processing a conversation he had with a friend at school? Everyone is on his or her own path in life. When we stop to breathe and remind ourselves that not everything is about us, our path becomes an easier one, with fewer rocks and roots in the way to trip us up.
3. Don’t make assumptions. We all wear masks. We show friends and acquaintances only the parts of ourselves that we want them to see. For many people, the complete truth may be very different. Think about social media: it’s a curated version of life! Everyone can’t possibly be having that much fun or look that good in every photograph, can they? If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I don’t know anything about anyone else except what they want me to know. When we come to understand that, we stop making assumptions about other people’s reality. We stop telling them who we expect them to be, and make room for who they really are, finding deeper connection and engaging in more genuine relationships.
4. Always do your best. What is your “best?” Our best changes from day to day, depending the time of day, our current health, what’s going on in our lives, the season, etc. Make your self-care a priority. Depleting yourself will not benefit anyone in the long run. Give your best to the world in every moment. Take care of yourself so you will have more to give. Live Vibrantly! Happy Valentine’s Day!