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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

How to be happy in relationships [Wise Wednesdays]

We expect too much and too little from our relationships.


One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that: relationships don’t make you happy, they make you conscious. That is the highest purpose of a relationship – at least in the high-trauma, low-trust economies that our organisations and relationships are embedded in. Paradoxically, this has made my relationships happier. It’s much easier to resolve a holiday argument if you’re not trying to get a happy feeling from it.


Last week, at the Boundaries Clinic, we dove into why boundaries don’t really work. The metaphor of ‘boundaries’ is an invention based on military, neoliberal thinking rooted in individualism and private property.


Until we can rewire this and restore the interdependent flow of life between us, our relationships can only be a mirror of how we are expecting too little or too much. Where do you start?


Boundaries as a fence vs trees:


By tuning into your feelings and needs as well as your sense of purpose in the relationship, you can start to reconnect to the interdependent flow of life between you and another person while having a better sense of what would support you to thrive. Then your relationships start to become a mirror of the love and wisdom within you while enhancing your sense of purpose within and beyond the relationship.


For example, naming your need for connection with your partner, being specific about how (e.g. going for a walk together) and explaining that this will help you feel energised in supporting the family, will work much better than if you simply tell them that they don’t listen to you enough (which will trigger their ‘boundaries’).


And vice versa: naming your need for autonomy and your desire to have 30 minutes a day to yourself so you can be more present is more likely to work than if you just disappear into a room or glue yourself to your phone to avoid conversation (in the name of ‘boundaries’).


What are you feeling? What do you need? Connect it to a bigger purpose. Then ask for what you want, remembering the interdependent flow of life.


Help others do the same and communicate their feelings, needs and purpose, rather than their rules (but don’t weaponise this powerful tool by forcing people into it).


We’re only scratching the surface here. Situations can be complex but they all follow a limited set of patterns. I feel we’ll have a Boundaries Clinic part 2 in 2024.


In the meantime, I created a Wise Wednesdays resource  – The Truth About Boundaries which you can find here. If you’re finding boundaries challenging, this in-depth, reflective but practical resource will shift your understanding of boundaries and help you show up in your relationships with more capacity to care for yourself without sacrificing your bigger mission or healthy relationships. Let me know what you take away from it.


Have a great week and see you in 2024!


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