Choosing Your Partner

It is said that selecting your partner is one of the most important things you will do in your life. This is a topic that us humans can all share. Most of us are built to live a life surrounded by people, a partner or a family. Relationships start under all sorts of conditions and are unique in how they mature.

On this subject, I will focus on something that has been shown to have a significant influence on the formation of a romantic relationship and how compatible that relationship may be in the future. This something, is each individual’s personality traits.

Personality traits

The Five-factor model or the Big Five traits is considered the most mainstream and widely accepted model when it comes to framing personality. Our own personality traits and those of our partners play a significant role in how we interact, what we value, how we want to build our lives and where we may come into conflict. The big five are as follows:

  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Neuroticism
  • Openness to experience

These five factors can be expanded further to reveal more specific characteristics, but this big five breakdown, also referred to as the OCEAN model helps compress personality traits into widely used categories.

We understand that having big differences in one or several of these traits can cause conflict within a relationship, possibly preventing it from moving forward or leaving it broken. I will try and briefly summarise each of the five traits and give an example of where differences or similarities in each of the traits can add to a relationship or help to break it down over time.

Extraversion

Extraverts thrive in group situations and get their energy from interacting with others. Introverts tend to feel exhausted by large scale social interaction, drawing energy from time spent alone.

Example: If your partner leans to the extravert end of the extraversion scale and you to the introvert, this may cause conflict regarding the types and level of social interaction that you want to undertake as a couple.

Agreeableness

Agreeable individuals value getting along with other and try to avoid conflict. They often have a high level of empathy for others and often put others interests in front of their own. Disagreeable individuals tend to confront issues even if it may result in conflict, they show less empathy, are comfortable being more critical and are often more competitive.

Example: If individuals in a relationship are at different ends of the scale, the agreeable one in the relationship will find the disagreeable one harsh and unpleasant and the disagreeable person will find the agreeable person indecisive and a push over.

Conscientiousness

High conscientiousness includes high levels of thoughtfulness, control and a drive for organization and success. Low levels are presented by those that may appear easy going or carefree/careless.

Example: If one partner has high levels, is driven, organized and clean, they may be frustrated by a partner who appears to be careless, directionless and messy. On the other hand, the one with low levels may find the other stressed or controlling.

Neuroticism

High neuroticism is characterized by high levels of nervousness and sensitivity. It is shown in individuals that don’t deal well with stress and are more likely to feel anxious. Low levels are characterized by those that deal well with stress, are more emotionally stable and don’t worry as much.

Example: This can be a contributing factor in one partner developing feelings of jealousy in the relationship.

Openness to experience

High levels of openness can be characterized by those that may be perceived as unpredictable, willing to engage in risky behaviour, higher levels of inventiveness and curiosity and that are creative driven. On the other end of the spectrum are those that have a higher tendency for structure, consistency, they are pragmatic and often more conservative.

Example: This may affect the choice of day to day activities with your partner, with either end of the spectrum likely to desire a different pace/outcome.

Obviously, the amount to which each of these plays a part will be different in every relationship. These are compressions of complex subjects and can be understood in much more detail. Knowing about this subject will help you become more self-aware and aware of your partners characteristics. It will help you make better judgement on the types of compromises worth making for your partner and times when to tread carefully or to push the boundaries. Having knowledge on the subject will help you identify red flags early on when getting to know someone or help you improve on current relationships. Building self-awareness and understanding what contributes to your value system will assist you in choosing the right partner.

Xx Jasmin

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Photos: David Popa

References:

-Jordan Peterson and his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jordan+peterson & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mjD3K96MVY&t=82s

-Alexandra Redcay  and her ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jodhovumkHQ

Tony Robbins and his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tony+robbins

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Maintaining Healthy Romantic Relationships

In my work, I regularly deal with couples who are going through difficult periods in their relationships. Here are 3 common themes that I regularly discuss with couples that can both prevent conflict and help resolve it if it is already present.

Self-awareness and the awareness of your partners characteristics

Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to monitor your own emotions in different situations. It involves having a clear perception of how you fit into your environment and an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. In the context of a relationship, it is just as important that you are consciously aware of your partners characteristics. Having this awareness will help you keep things in perspective and help you both manage your levels of expectation in different situations.

Tip: Take a moment to note down a few things in a past or present relationship that you can improve on. Self-assessment is key to progression. Ask your partner to do the same and then speak about what you have both come up with.  

Speak your minds

Speak openly with your partner. It’s important that you give positive reinforcement when you are happy with your partner and make it clear to them when they have fallen short of your expectations. The better you get at having this mutual understanding of each other through discussion, the more harmonious and loving your relationship will be.

Tip: Clinical psychologist, professor and author Dr Jordan Peterson concludes that it is essential to commit at least 90 minutes per week to speaking with your partner about your life together. Speak about what you are happy about and where you can both improve. The idea of a date night each week sounds corny but is a good option for keeping a healthy dialogue open.

Control your emotions

Be kind and patient with each other. Our instincts often tell us to give into our emotions. It is easy to lose your patience in the moment. The more effective we become at mastering our own emotions in a relationship, the smoother and happier things become. When you desire more from your partner in a certain aspect of your lives, be open and direct with them, but also be patient. Learning new habits can take time. In return you will hopefully receive the same level of patience.

Tip: The next time you find yourself in a discussion with your partner that is becoming heated, stop yourself, be self-aware in that moment, think about your emotions and take a breath. We can show our love in these moments by finding our calmer selves.

For more information have a look at these websites (references):

–  Jordan Peterson and his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jordan+peterson

– Tony Robbins and his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tony+robbins

– Parisuhdekeskus Kataja: https://parisuhdekeskus.fi/

–  Väestöliiton tunnekeskeinen parisuhdekurssi: http://www.vaestoliitto.fi/parisuhde/nettikurssit/tunnekeskeinen-parisuhdekurssi/

– Mielenterveystalo Parisuhteen omahoito: https://www.mielenterveystalo.fi/aikuiset/itsehoito-ja-oppaat/itsehoito/parisuhteen_omahoito/Pages/default.aspx

Xx Jasmin

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Photos David Popa

The 3 Key Aspects of Setting and Achieving Goals

The concept of goal setting is often misrepresented. The main misrepresentation being that when talking about setting and achieving goals, there isn’t enough emphasis on the amount of thinking and energy that goes into the process. It is a complex idea that challenges us but is often trivialized into simply writing a goal down and hoping the rest will just figure itself out.

Like most of us, ever since I was young, in many areas of my life I have been told to set goals. What was never really explained though was the complex thinking behind goal setting, the reasoning behind the concept and how we can more effectively achieve those goals. I feel there is also a stigma around goal setting that exists for many of us. It exists because we can all point to numerous occasions in our lives where we have set a goal for ourselves and either failed to achieve the goal, or we haven’t even given that goal a second thought. What I will try to do below is highlight some of the more prevalent features of setting and achieving goals. I’m hoping this will kickstart some new habits in our lives and help remove some of the stigma around the concept. I will also point out how setting and achieving goals makes up such a big part of social work.

Why we set goals

Before we dive into the key aspects of setting and achieving goals, I thought it is worth discussing the reasons why we as humans find ourselves grappling with the idea in the first place.

It sounds simple, we set a goal because we want to achieve that goal. But what is it inside of us as humans that pushes us to want to achieve goals. One source of explanation is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs written by Andrew Maslow in his 1943 paper, ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’.  The basic concept behind the theory is that within all humans there is a set of common needs. The common theme I see behind Maslow’s theory and how it relates to goal setting is the innate human need to make progress and grow. 

The 3 steps to setting and achieving goals

From what I have read and understood, I have tried to break the subject down as I see it into 3 parts. Many of these ideas will sound simple but they are all worth noting.

  1. Setting the Goal
  • See a situation as it is, see it as you want it to be and set your goals accordingly. Be honest with yourself and your life situation. See where progress needs to be made or new avenues that need exploring. Set your goals accordingly.
  • Have a larger (long term) goal in mind, breaking it down into incremental (short term) goals. For example, having the larger goal of getting into the best physical shape of your life. You can then break it down into the smaller goal of working out 4 days a week. This can then be broken down again into what you do in each workout. This break down can continue as long as you need it to.
  • Be specific in the goals you set. We cannot hit a goal if we don’t know exactly what it is. The more specific we are in the goals we set, the more likely we are to achieve them.
  • Make the goal achievable. Often, we set ourselves unachievable goals or fail to break our goals down into incremental steps, so we become intimidated or disheartened by even the idea of the journey. Go easy on yourself, start with small steps.
  • Write your goals down if you need to. Keep a list. Everyone is different when it comes to remembering to do something but writing goals down, big or small, will always help to some degree.
  • Make your goals interesting and relevant to you. The reasons to set a goal must be compelling enough to keep you motivated. Reasons can be positive or negative. ‘I will lose this if I don’t achieve this goal’ or ‘I will gain this if I do achieve this goal’.
  1. Visualise

Visualise your goal, how it will feel to achieve it, what it looks like, what it feels like. The emotions and feelings that come to the surface during this process can build belief, helping propel us towards the goal at hand and maintaining focus.

  1. Taking the necessary action required to achieve the goal
  • Break the goal down into achievable incremental steps. Be realistic with the expectations of yourself especially in the initial stages.
  • Find ways to remind yourself of what you can do today, making lists, setting alarms etc. Refer to your lists as much as needed.
  • Stick to a routine. We all have off moments, but the aim should be to stick to it daily.
  • Constantly remind yourself through visualisation of the feelings that will result from achieving that goal. This will help maintain our belief.
  • Re-visit your goals regularly. Make adjustments and additions as you go.
  • Be resilient.

How Goal Setting relates to Social Work

Every day in our offices we meet clients who are facing difficult situations. We sit with them, we try and analyse the situation honestly then we try and discuss a path forward. It is often hard for our clients to see a bright future or even a better day when their daily lives are surrounded by problems. They might have their own individual goals, but they often do not have the energy to do anything about it. It is possible that some clients do not even want to think about their goals out of lost hope or a fear of failure. They can be very deep in dark thoughts. Every day we must work to be sensitive to the needs of our clients as much as possible, while at the same time, trying to help them realise what their own goals are, and how they can approach them. If you are in this kind of situation, you are not alone. Sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and motivate you to keep going. This someone can be a family member or friend or even a professional like myself. The work that we do in the family therapy offices is essential in helping families and individuals in need of assistance.

I Challenge You

I urge you to commit 5 minutes of your time to think about goal setting. Think about things that you desire or thing’s that you have been meaning to take care of, but haven’t got around to it. I am hoping 5 minutes will be long enough to spark something bigger within you. I will be doing the same.

Xx Jasmin

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Sources

Credit to the following individuals. Many of the above concepts have come from a combination of researching the works of:

-Clinical Psychologist, Professor Jordan Peterson of Canada.

-Author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach Tony Robbins.