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Create Safe & Strong

Isolation and loneliness are harmful to mental health. Relationships where people struggle with poor boundaries and endless conflict can cause a lot of emotional pain. Here are some ways that you can use your power to make new friends and to have better relationships.

Reach out to others

Especially if you are shy or introverted, it takes time, effort, and courage to make new friends.

Simple acts of reaching out to others can help you to develop new, positive connections that can open doors and even turn into lifelong relationships.

Here are a few of countless ways to meet people you don’t know yet:

  • Volunteer with an organization where you can meet people who share your values
  • Join a book group or a hiking club or a dance community
  • Arrange to get together informally with a couple of people from your work or school
  • Ask someone you already know to introduce you to people they think you might like

Use positive communication.

Communication breakdowns are normal in any relationship. What matters is the ways in which we repair the communication, instead of letting the breakdown grow into bad feelings and bitter arguments.

Here are five positive communication strategies that can make a real difference:

  • Think before you speak
  • Make space for the right moment
  • Respect the other person’s point of view
  • Acknowledge your share in causing the problem
  • Keep your heart connection

For more ideas about these strategies, see our article Communication Strategies I Already Know and Forget to Use.

Set and respect boundaries.

In our classes we teach that “We each have the RIGHT to be treated with safety and respect, and the RESPONSIBILITY to act safely and respectfully with ourselves and others.”

In order to uphold these rights and responsibilities, we need boundaries. Boundaries are limits between one place and another. Personal boundaries are limits between people.

Understanding and speaking up for our own boundaries can help us to take care of our wellbeing in our relationships. Recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others can help us to prevent conflict.

To learn more about boundaries, see Fullpower Consent and Boundary Skills for Adults.

Make SURE people know you care.

Important people in your life need to hear over and over that they matter to you.

Even if you have told them before, tell them again.

Even if you are upset with each other, you can still let them know that you care about them.

Here are some messages that many people have found to be helpful in communicating caring and/or in healing relationships:

  • Thank you
  • I’m proud of you
  • I love you
  • You are important to me
  • I’m sorry
  • I forgive you

Waiting too long can lead to regret. Speaking up now can create connection, joy, appreciation, and relief.

Many people have found this article to be helpful: Don’t Wait! 5 Messages for Everyone We Love

Learn more about Skills for Safe, Strong Relationships – and explore additional strategies below for taking charge of your mental health.

For more, visit our Mental Health resources page.

Focus on what you CAN do

Constantly thinking and worrying about big problems outside your control can make you stressed, anxious, and distracted – without making anything better.

Focus instead on small, positive steps that you have the power to take.

Even one small, positive action can help replace isolation and despair with connection and hope.


Make self-care a high priority

Most of us know that getting the rest, exercise, connection, nourishment, and care we need will make us calmer, happier, and more prepared to do our work and help others.

The problem is that making enough time for self-care can feel impossible with work, school, and family responsibilities.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that we can get by with far less self-care than we actually need.

Without investing in ourselves, we are harming ourselves.

This is why it’s essential to make nurturing ourselves a top priority in our daily lives.


Develop & choose positive beliefs

Beliefs are thoughts we have over and over until we become convinced they are true.

Some are empowering. Some are limiting. All are changeable. Just deciding to change a negative belief probably won’t work at first because it won’t feel true.

For example, going from “I hate my body” to “I love my body” doesn’t happen just because we decide we want a new belief about our body.

Instead of trying to make a big leap that doesn’t feel true, you can use a strategy to change a negative belief in smaller steps, gradually, over time.


Protect your feelings

Have you ever felt miserable because of something cruel that someone said or did to you? Has this experience made you miserable over and over again every time you remember it?

You have the power to protect your feelings so that you can stay safe emotionally.

Here’s how.


Set & respect boundaries

Do you ever feel misunderstood, taken for granted, or disrespected?

By speaking up clearly, respectfully, and powerfully, for what you DO and DO NOT want, you can reduce stress, improve communication, and prevent and solve problems.

Setting boundaries can help you to protect your time, your feelings, your body, your safety, and your mental and physical wellbeing.


Support others

Have you ever seen a friend or family member struggling emotionally? Maybe they were depressed or anxious or very sad because of a loss?

Many of us really want to help, and we aren’t always sure how. We might feel that whatever we do just isn’t enough, or we’re worried about doing the wrong thing and making someone feel worse.

The simple things can make a big difference.

Helping someone in need can improve your mood, your sense of wellbeing, and your sense of connection.

Here are some ideas of how to help others while still taking care of yourself.


Recognize and ask for what you want

One of the most important keys to good mental health is being able to do things that give you joy, satisfaction, and success in your life.

In order to do this, you first have to determine your own values, goals, and priorities.

Next, you have to look at what your options are and figure out some specific next steps for taking action.

And then, you need to be prepared to advocate for yourself persistently, respectfully and powerfully.

Here are some ways to recognize and ask for what you want.


Get help

Do you hate asking for help? Do you want to solve problems yourself instead of leaning on other people? Have you had bad experiences where the help you got made things worse?

Unfortunately, many cultures view asking for help as a weakness or as being selfish.

Some families see getting professional help such as counseling or therapy as being a personal failure, and associate mental healthcare with being ‘crazy.’

Getting help when you need it takes courage and strength.

Here are some ideas for how to overcome obstacles to getting the right kind of help for YOU.


Protect your personal safety

Too much misery, suffering, and trauma are caused by abuse, bullying, and assault.

The good news is that you have the power to protect yourself most of the time.

Here are some ways that you can develop the confidence and skill to take charge of your personal safety at home, at work, online, and in public.