“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” -Tony Robbins
Relationships are perhaps the most important foundation for your life.
If you have great relationships, there’s virtually nothing that can defeat you, or even discourage you. As prolific author Frank Crane once wrote, having a close friend “doubles every joy and halves every defeat.”
But if most of your relationships are shallow and superficial, it doesn’t matter if you have the most “successful” life imaginable — everything still rings hollow if there’s no one to celebrate with.
As part of a recent study, The National Science Foundation (NSF) asked 1,500 people how many friends they had that they could talk with about their personal troubles or triumphs.
1 in 4 said they had no one to talk with. That number doubled when they took out family members.
Why do most people have mediocre relationships — or none at all?
Why are most people on track to never have great relationships?
Because they can’t be bothered to learn how.
“In order to get to the next level of whatever you’re doing, you must think and act in a wildly different way than you were before.” -Grant Cardone
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” -Ernest Hemingway
When my wife Kimi and I were in premarital counseling, we read a book called The 5 Love Languages. That little book has made us 1000x closer to each other.
Maybe you’ve read the book before. In a nutshell, the book says every person loves, and wants to be loved, in 5 ways (with 1 or 2 main preferences):
Everyone loves — and wants to be loved — in these 5 ways. But the reason most people continue to have mediocre relationships is because they just can’t be bothered to learn how the other person wants to be loved.
Not knowing how your loved ones want to be loved is extremely dangerous. This is where the deepest, most profound disconnects can happen, things like:
Most people can’t be bothered to learn how to communicate with and love their friends/partner the way they want.
As long as you never learn how you want to receive love — and learn how those around you want to receive it — you’ll always have mediocre relationships.
Communication is hard. It takes empathy, focus, and conscious effort to give your friend the attention they need.
But isolation and loneliness are far harder.
The reason your relationships are mediocre is because you haven’t learned enough about communication.
“If you keep living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have.” -Jim Rohn
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe
(I wrote this section recently that ended up being highlighted by hundreds of people):
When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:
Always make the first move.
The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you don’t want to).
Most people have strained and superficial relationships with family and even with friends. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize.
This is a pride thing. It’s one of the main killers of marriages, friendships, and even families.
If you want to have deep, meaningful relationships with your friends, family, and even just the people in your day-to-day life, make the first move — even if it should be them. Be the first to:
For a long time, I felt awkward and uncomfortable telling my brothers and sister “I love you.” Three of the people whom I loved most in the entire world, and I couldn’t say it!
Now, I tell them I love them all the time. I say it over text, over casual phone calls, at crises, celebrations, and over the holidays. I tell my friends, too. Every single important person in my life — mentors, family, friends, even coworkers, know how special they are to me.
It feels silly to be afraid to say this to a loved one. Yet, so many people can’t say a few simple words that would galvanize the entire relationship and deeply touch their soul.
Once you can do this, you can begin enjoying a gem most people never will: close, loving, life-giving relationships with many people.
In his book, No One Wants to Read Your Sh*t, New York Times Best-selling author Stephen Pressfield wrote:
“None of us wants to hear your self-centered, ego-driven, unrefined demands for attention. Why should we? It’s boring. There’s nothing in it for us.”
In the same way artists and creatives can only connect with their audience through giving value, you can only truly connect with others when it stops being about you.
If you want deeply fulfilling relationships, you must give from yourself.
Give your time, attention, energy, love, and focus towards building and nurturing that relationship.
The individuals who do this are rare. But anyone who chooses to build their relationships like this are the ones who will have deep, meaningful relationships.
“The world gives to the givers and takes from the takers.” -Adam Grant
“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.” -Darren Hardy
People with several deep, intimate relationships carry themselves differently. They treat their friends differently. They ask themselves specific questions that most people don’t even think of.
From a speech for alcoholics by marriage experts Dave and Polly P.:
“Ask yourself: Do I think of my partner and myself as a unit? Our book says that selfishness and self-centeredness are, we think, the root of our problem.
Are you selfish or self-centered with respect to your marriage or relationship?
Do you think in terms of our house, our cars, our bank account, our dogs, our furniture?
Or do you think in terms of my car, my money, my phone, my stuff?
If you are thinking mostly about yourself, you are not likely to have a relationship with another person that will bring you joy and happiness.”
Most people don’t ask themselves these hard questions. The truth is, if you have mediocre relationships, it’s likely because you’re being selfish, self-absorbed, or self-centered.
Can you say you’ve been more selfless than selfish in the past few months?
Many people can’t.
The good news is, change is readily available.
All that is required is action.
Best-selling author Grant Cardone once wrote:
“Almost every problem people face in their lives are all the result of not taking enough action.”
If you want to upgrade your relationships from mediocre to extraordinary, you must take actions you’ve never taken before. Grant Cardone went on to write, “Success is just one of the byproducts of those who take the most action.”
Want incredible relationships, best friends, and an amazing partner?
Then take more action than you ever have before.
“We can never flee the misery that is within us.” -Arthur Golden
Most people carry severe baggage with them all day.
We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been laughed at, excluded, beat up, put down, and forgotten.
A main difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people bring this garbage out in the open to heal it.
I could go on. I’m sure you could, too.
The reason people with successful, amazing relationships have them is because they’ve chosen to address their own emotional garbage that prevents them from connecting.
If you want amazing relationships, you need to work on yourself first.
I saw my own life going down the toilet — I was addicted to porn, had terrible unresolved family issues, and virtually nonexistent self-worth.
I made the choice to go to therapy, 12-step programs, and get all this crap out in the open.
It sucked. It required more of me than I’ve ever had to give.
But my marriage with my wife is incomprehensibly amazing. I haven’t looked at porn in years. My wife teased me the other day that I have a million “bro-mances.” She’s right — I have a dozen guys that I know intimately, and they know me the same way.
If you want to upgrade your relationships from mediocre to extraordinary, then spend a lot of time, focus, and energy on making yourself better.
“The measure we gave was the measure we got back.” -Alcoholics Anonymous
The amount of energy, focus, and care you put into making yourself better is proportionate to the level of relationships you’ll have.
If you don’t invest in yourself…
If you don’t bother to learn how to communicate…
If you don’t care enough to learn how your loved ones want to be loved…
You’ll always have mediocre relationships.
If you want amazing, high-quality relationships that will last for decades, you need to take action to learn how to do that. Take care of yourself, and heal what’s preventing you from connecting.
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