How to be happy with the people in your life
How you relate to others is a reflection of who you are and how much freedom you have, says counsellor and psychotherapist Abby Wynne
Knowing what makes you happy, so that you don't need someone to make you happy, is a huge strength in any relationship. Whether the relationship is with parents, a partner or your child, with friends or colleagues; if you're balanced and able to look after your own needs, you're free from a need to have someone else do that for you.
This freedom allows you to become more available for life, able to say no to things that are unhealthy, and yes to things that may end up surprising you.
There are no magical quick-fixes; long-lasting change and growth takes work and dedication. I believe you have to make a commitment to be the best you can be; courageous to take responsibility for your side of any issue, and brave enough to let go of an attachment to control, or to always be right.
Once you can do this, you create space for wonderful things to come in such areas as peace, harmony and joy.
1 Be comfortable with yourself
Be still, mindful and at ease in your own company. I'm not asking you to look in the mirror and say "I love you," but to be able to say "It's okay to be me" or "I'm glad that I'm me". Say it out loud and feel what it feels like to truly mean it. Try these too: "I am okay with myself", "I am at peace with myself", "I am enough".
2 Do not be afraid to get help
If you're not able to say any of the above, you could try psychotherapy, meditation, mindfulness or energy healing to smooth out your rough edges. If you grow into it slowly, you'll find it becomes easier to relax with yourself and, when you relax, you release expectations that someone else has to do something for you.
3 Be nicer to yourself
If you call yourself names or are always hard on yourself, go back to number one on this list and spend more time there. Catch yourself calling yourself a name and apologise. Yes, I mean that. Tell yourself: "I'm sorry for saying that, it's what I've been doing for years and I am going to stop doing it now. Thank you for putting up with me."
4 Forgive yourself
Apologise to yourself for everything that you ever did that you're unhappy about. Yes, this takes work, and time.
But you need to believe that you did your best at that time with what you knew, because if you were able to do it differently, you really would have. If you have trouble with this, go back to number two.
5 Happy lists
Write a list of five things that you can do on your own that make you happy - and do them. Making lists sometimes doesn't match reality, so if you write 'bowling' on the list and you haven't been bowling since you were 12, it might not actually be something for you, for now. Revise the list and update it regularly. So, if you have a weekend coming up and you've got a whole day to yourself, you've got a list ready and you know the time alone will be something you can look forward to.
6 Respond, instead of reacting
When you're at peace with yourself, energetically you create a space between you and whatever else is happening. Space is vital to give you time to process what is going on, and it gives you time to decide how to respond. Stop, breathe and think, then act. If you don't have that space, you may feel threatened and jump right into attack or defence mode.
7 Take your time
If a decision is required, remember; you don't need to give one right away. Give yourself time and space to be clear about what you want. If you feel you need space in the moment because you're overwhelmed, ask for it. Say: "I am not able to make a decision/think clearly now, I need some time and I will get back to you." You're within your rights to do this.
8 Avoid being the victim
Learn how to separate taking things personally from 'just a bunch of stuff that happened'. This really means recognising when you're feeling like a victim, and stopping doing that. You need to learn what language you use when you cast the blame outside of yourself, so that you can begin to take responsibility and bring it back to you. This is empowering, though it might be difficult to do at first.
9 Benefit of the doubt
This can be hard, especially if you feel you're owed an apology from someone. But do you really understand why they did what they did, or are you making assumptions? Did they really do it 'to you' or did they just do it? How do you know? Well, if you're working on number one, and number two, you can become clear with number eight, take a step back and come from inside that space, instead of blaming what is outside of it.
10 Your partner
If you've done the work so far, communication could be the next biggest issue getting in the way of your relationships. Develop a way that you and your partner can discuss your relationship dynamics, without getting emotional about it. It's like the difference between being in a soccer game on the pitch, and being in the television studio analysing the game. You need to analyse the relationship dynamics outside of the relationship, so when you're back in it, you're working from tactics that have already been agreed between you. This takes practice; always ask if it's okay to talk about the dynamics before jumping into analysis, and don't take it personally if now isn't a good time for your partner. Remember, partnerships work two ways.
11 Make time for each other
Give each other your full attention. Put down social media, turn off the TV and be 100% present to your partner, even just half an hour a day when you truly connect with each other adds to the closeness you feel as a team. Being in silence, simply holding hands, is healing for a couple, as long as one of you isn't on Facebook or Twitter at the same time.
12 Listen to your child
Children need to be heard. They want you to know what is going on for them in their lives, and they don't necessarily want you to fix it. If you treat all conversations with your child as important, then they will feel valued, and continue to come to you to tell you things.
Perhaps not everything is of interest to you, but it is to them, and as you have their trust, they will come when something big happens. As a parent, you're there to make sure they are safe, not to be their best friend, and if your children can come up with their own solutions with your support, that's the foundation for a relationship that will last long into the future.
13 Your parents
You're not your dad, or your mum, you are you. Your way is not the only way, let your parents have their ways, their beliefs and respect them for that.
Remember, it's not your job to fix or change them, they've lived their lives and however they are now is the result of that. Be there to support them, but your life is your life; just as they had their chance, it's your turn now.
Hold the space open between you and them, so if what they suggest doesn't resonate, you can take it impersonally, and feel secure enough to do it your way regardless.
14 Your friends
As you change and grow, your friends may or may not change and grow in the same direction. Let go of your expectations that your best friend from school will understand you when you're in your forties, and come from that space in between, to allow people to be who they are. You're also allowed to be who you are, too. Just having that freedom between you can make the difference between being easy in the company of friends or not. Remember, if you're secure in who you are, you don't need to be jealous of anyone else.
15 Business is business
You're there to do a job, and other people are there to support you in that job. But the people in work are not there to hold you emotionally, your boss is not your parent, and many people get confused because authority figures may subconsciously feel like parental figures. Many people regress into children and expect their manager to give the emotional support that was not received in a childhood relationship. Keep that space, keep grounded and take the time to make sure you're being treated appropriately; do the work you're there to do and ask for help if you need to.
Abby Wynne's book, 'How to be Well' (Hay House), is £10.68 from amazon.co.uk and on her website, abby-wynne.com