Healthy Relationship Tips
Four Core Skills 
By Jon Terrell, M.A.

Relationships are at the heart of life. These healthy relationship tips can improve our ability to give and receive love. These core, essential skills can help us navigate through life--skills of healthy love relationships. I wish these skills were taught to every child in school! Our world would be a much safer, richer and more joyful place to live.

The first two skills focus on you rather rather than the relationship. They help bring you into what is actually going on and calm and center you so you can be more present to life and relationship. The last two healthy relationship tips focus on the relationship.

1. Present Moment Awareness

Of all the healthy relationship tips, this is number 1! It's the skill of how to move from your head back to your heart. How can we let go of the story about what is going on and come back to the present moment, come back to our senses, literally...and once again see, hear and empathize with another without being caught in a reaction.

We can take a first step towards developing this skill by just pausing and taking a few deep breaths.

(Do that now! Notice how you immediately slow down and move out of your thoughts and back into the real world of this moment. Look around, see and listen. What do you see? What do you hear?)

When we are caught up in conflict, irritation or just "space out" the first thing we can do is come back home, to the only real place...the here and the now. This skill has two parts...first it's learning to recognize that we are caught up and not present. And then it's taking the right action such as pausing and breathing deeply.

It is easy to get caught up in our thoughts and feelings about what is happening that we no longer see the other person. Rather we see a picture of them that we have constructed in our minds. We all get caught up in the spin of these old stories. In the heat of the moment it's easy to see how the other person is wrong...and later on it's easy to get caught up in judging ourselves for the relationship not working.

Stories can be totally believable but they take us away from getting what we want: Deep down we all want to love and be loved. And the first step towards this is Present Moment Awareness.

Present Moment Awareness frees us from the very seductive hold of our mental story of what is going on. It calls us to experience what is actually present and real. And what is actually present and real is the foundation of healthy love relationships.

Remembering to breathe takes us into the moment. Another is to focus on any sense...seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting.

Two methods to develop present moment awareness are Yoga and Meditation. For more information about a wonderful form of meditation training that includes energy healing click here.

2. Stress Management

This is #2 of all the healthy relationship tips. When we are under stress we have less awareness available for effective communication and positive emotions. Our ability to listen to others is reduced as is our range of responses. It's easier to react in a negative way.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and the ability to tolerate stress and reduce our reaction to stressful situations is a core life skill. Simple exercises, like the breathing break you tried above, can relieve some stress, but for many of us we need to unwind deeply held and often unconscious stress that is lodged in our nervous system, muscles and organs. For example, we may have chronic digestive disorders that are stress related.

There are three basic stress management skills I teach to my psychotherapy and coaching clients. All these can release a lot of this old habitual stress lodged in our bodies and free up a lot more present moment awareness. Autogenics is a well researched form of body-oriented imagery that can reduce stress. Another is Progressive Relaxation. And a third is meditation. All three have been shown to have numerous health benefits. They can help you respond to others more effectively and positively, too!

This site contains other healthy relationship tips and ways to manage stress:

To learn more ways to manage stress and 5 Keys to Help With Change click here. 

Energy Healing and Massage are great stress management tools. They are on my list of healthy relationship tips that I schedule regularly for myself. For more information on Massage and Energy Healing click here.

3. Loving Skills

All of us can practice specific behaviors that increase our experience and expression of love. At our retreats we teach very specific Principles and Skills of Loving that are at the foundation of the lives we lead.

Our Breaking Free of the Old Story Retreats (Shalom Retreats) are based on these principles and skills. These skills can help you radically shift out of old reactive patterns that steal your power, awareness and life force.

When you are in the moment (See #1 above) you are out of your head, your thoughts, and back in the world of your senses. The first skill of loving is to practice "seeing" another person. With fresh eyes we look at another person and take all of them in...there is so much to explore in their face, in their eyes, in their aliveness. While this may sound simple, it is anything but. When we open the door into the present moment and really see, true intimacy is possible. Our hearts open wide.

To step more deeply into this, try a powerful exercise to deepen intimacy, starting with yourself, at our Fear of Intimacy Page.

And if you are dealing with relationship conflict focused around feelings of anger, fear or grief, click here for some perspectives on "dark emotions."

4. Learning to Communicate When the Heat is On

There are many types of communication skill trainings that are helpful to resolve conflicts. Here are some additional resources for healthy relationship tips that have worked for us:

Non-Violent Communication or Conscious Communication both teach related communication skills that help people identify feelings and needs that are calling to be met. It has helped both couples and organizations to resolve conflict.

Imago Therapy: Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt lead relationship workshops and write books on "Getting the Love You Want." They teach a powerful dialogue process for couples that is pretty easy to learn and can help couples strengthen their relationships and feel more connected to each other. For more information click here.

More on the Skills of Loving

We teach specific Skills of Loving at our retreats that enhance relationships, and work especially well with close intimate ones. To check these out, start with Learning Love Skills and also look at Building A Love Relationship. They both contain more valuable healthy relationship tips you will find useful.

Jon Terrell, MA, offers retreats to help people live into the power of love. He offers psychotherapy, meditation training, massage and energy healing at his office in Sunderland, Massachusetts. For more information or if you have a question or healthy relationship tips to add, contact him using the form below.                                                                

Go from Healthy Relationship Tips to Biographical Information

Go to Breaking Free of the Old Story Retreat (Shalom Retreat) Page

Go to Characteristics of Healthy Relationships

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