Dear Readers - Every new beginning is an opportunity for trying fresh ways to improve your relationships, even the one you have with yourself.
Most of us see any relationship problems we encounter from the view of how we're affected, what worries us, what holds us back, upsets us, makes us unhappy.
But a fresh start provides "firsts" - the things you can do to turn your view of things around.
So here are some New Years' Relationship Resolutions, to be first at initiating change.
- Resolve to be first to appreciate whatever someone close does for you. Your mother may offer too many unsolicited opinions, but rather than argue with her about them, or show annoyance, first thank her for caring so much about you. After that, gently changing the conversation will be more easily accepted.
- Resolve to first trust your partner before overreacting to things. Unless you've allied yourself with a known cheater, immature jerk, or someone you knew too little about, the partner you chose is far more likely to be telling you the truth than deceiving you. First listen, trust, and let time reveal whether his/her behaviour demands further explanation.
- Be first to show how much you care about your close people. Don't play the "waiting game" with siblings, other relatives, and friends just as busy in their own way as you are. Send cards for occasions, email, and text those little messages that show you're thinking about them. And take the time to call or visit when personal contact is needed.
- Go to the head of the line in expressing thanks to people who help you - at work, in your activities, in your neighbourhood. All of us have a "network" around us, but sometimes we act as if it's invisible until somebody does something wrong. Thank them for what they do right, which is most of the time.
- Resolve to think of your health first, when it's needed.... which means, take care of your physical and emotional well-being. Only YOU can be responsible for self-care. So if everyone's partying on a night when you're exhausted, take a pass. It won't be your last chance at fun... and you'll have fewer chances, if you get sick.
- Apply this "first-my-health" concept (that's NOT "me-first," which is about self-absorption and entitlement) to your dating relationships. If someone's behaviour towards you is controlling, intimidating, provoking, more than loving and nurturing, you're in an unhealthy dynamic, which needs to change. Be first to recognize this and urge your partner to do the same, if you want to stay together. Otherwise, the damage to your self-image and confidence as well as your emotional wellbeing can be long lasting.
- Try some "firsts" in other areas of your life, and they'll reflect back on your relationships. Take an upgrading course in your field as part of a re-booted career plan, study a new language that opens doors to traveling places you've never been, start an exercise program - as modest as walking 30 minutes three times a week, in mall walks or outdoors - and you'll improve how you look and feel with more energy.
- A special first: Add something to your life that makes you laugh out loud - a belly-dancing class, watching comic films, playing with your children or grandkids at their level.
- Remember this: Though January 1st is ideal for planning "first" steps to make your relationships and life happier and healthier, overworking at it, and over analyzing things, is counter-productive.