Grown Zone

3 Keys to Healthy Relationships in 2014

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Welcome to the Grown Zone at We look forward to providing tools, advice and a reliable framework to help you to achieve honor, esteem, respect, prosperity, health (mental, physical and emotional), good relationships and self-loving behaviors for your life. 

The New Year has traditionally been a time of fresh starts, new beginnings and hopes for a better life. That also makes it an ideal time to commit to your own personal growth (although there is no such thing as a bad time to do so). Among the things most of us want is better, healthier relationships, whether that means healing and strengthening existing ones, or ending unhealthy, unloving relationships in order to make room for those that affirm our capacity to love and grow into our authentic best. Your ability to do so depends not on others, but on you—always.

Make this the year you evolve beyond doing what you have the adult right to do (despite many of those choices being unhealthy for you), to making Grown decisions that are in your best interests, to achieve healthy relationships built on a foundation of self love. Start by committing to these 3 keys to establishing Grown, healthy relationships:

I Will Live—And Love—By A Standard of Self Love

Grown people do not rely on others to provide the love they do not have for themselves—they graciously accept the love of others in addition to, not as a substitute for, self-love. It is critical for you to understand and accept that the foundation of all relationships in your life—romantic, as well as family, business and others—is your relationship with yourself. That’s why your commitment to and capacity for self-love is critical to your ability to establish and maintain Grown and healthy relationships.

Embrace that commitment by establishing and clearly communicating (by your actions, not just your words) the treatment you require in every relationship—with H.E.R.: Honor, Esteem and Respect, as your standard. When Grown people establish their worth in their own eyes, they refuse to tolerate anything less from others. Too many give away their power when they don’t exercise their right to better treatment, naively trusting others to treat them well. They volunteer to be victims in the name of “love.” However, despite romantic notions to the contrary, true love never requires that, and self-love refuses to accept it.

To be Grown is to recognize that most of the people who claim to love you (or want to), are unqualified to do so—it is your job to teach them, after carefully determining who is worthy of the time and effort that will take. People decide how to treat you by seeing what you will allow, based on your actions. Fail to love yourself and others will follow your lead. Grown folks understand that tolerating unacceptable behavior is accepting it, and accepting it reinforces it (even if the acceptance comes with retaliation or punishment). Make this the year you accept full responsibility for teaching others how to treat you, using how you love and care for yourself as the best example. For help, read “Have You Been A Doormat? Here’s How To Courage Up” and listen to our Grown Zone Radio Show, “Are You A Very Caring Person, Or Just A Punk?”

I Will Honor Whom I Choose To Be Above What I Used To Be

“A half-decent man is better than no man,” someone once told Zara. She responded: “That’s only if you believe that you are only half-decent.” Too often, when we say that we can’t find better in a relationship, what we really mean is that we do not deserve better.

To have healthy relationships in the New Year, you must reject the idea that what you used to be, what you’ve done, or where you (or people like you) are from, somehow make you unworthy of making better choices for your life. We all start out adult and messy; none of that ever disqualifies you from your absolute right and responsibility to choose better for yourself, especially in your relationships, regardless of the choices you’ve made in the past (or those that people “like you” typically make). Honoring whom you choose to be above what you used to be enables you to welcome a future with experiences that are beyond your wildest dreams. Don’t allow anyone—especially yourself—to judge you as unworthy of better.

In the Grown Zone, we often say that the three things that your former self needs most from you are acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. These gifts to yourself are critical to your ability to enforce your standard for better treatment in relationships, so that you are not sabotaged by negative perceptions of your own worthiness. As long as you feel disqualified by the culture and choices of your past, you will not feel deserving of better. And as long as you feel unworthy, you will continue to accept less than healthy, loving, mutually respectful relationships. To be sure, you have the adult right to settle for less than what is good and healthy for you. But that is not Grown. Be honest about your past, but never honor it more than your present and your future. Make this the year you make your past the floor, not a ceiling, on what is possible for you in your pursuit of healthy relationships. For help with this, click to hear “Where You’re From Doesn’t Have To Define Who You Are.”

I Will Protect My Heart, Body, Money and Home

You’ll do a much better job of making healthy relationship choices—and avoid or quickly recover from unhealthy ones—if you make and keep this commitment. Grown people accept total responsibility for protecting their heart (emotional safety), body (sexual health and the power of procreation), money (financial stability) and home (personal security). The protection of these should never be entrusted to anybody who hasn’t shown and proven over time (not just promised in moments of passion or infatuation), that they are ready, willing and able to protect these things as if they were theirs (which means they must be committed to their own self-love). To be Grown is to demand more than someone interested in picking your flowers and planting seeds; healthy, sustainable relationships of honor, esteem and respect require two adults qualified for and committed to tending the garden—sexually, financially and emotionally.

The reason people surrender access to their bodies, home, money and heart so easily to others is because society tells us we should (anything for “love”), and because often they’ve never truly taken ownership of these for themselves. You need to be your first love; until you fall in love with self and learn to put you first, you have no right to expect it from anybody else. That means making your body, heart, money, and home the last things you offer up in a relationship, not the first things you give up in order to get or keep one. For help, listen to “Things You Should Not Give Up For Love.”

“It’s a very funny thing about life,” the novelist W. Somerset Maugham once said. “If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” The opposite is also true: “The minute you settle for less than you deserve,” says newspaper columnist Maureen Dowd, “you get even less than you settled for. ”

For better love and healthy relationships in the New Year, stop settling. The most valuable and precious things are cheapened by easy access. You could be a Bentley, but if you make yourself as available as a used Kia, you’ll be treated accordingly. Grown people set their own worth—they never surrender that responsibility to others. The love you accept from others will never exceed the love you require of yourself. Want better love? Know that you are worthy of it. Love you better, and then accept nothing less from anyone else.

Happy New Year! We invite you to Enter and Live In The Grown Zone.

For a FREE copy of, 9 Keys To Living In The Grown Zone, click here.


About GrownZone

Zara Green and Alfred Edmond Jr. are co-principals of A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises, producer of The Grown Zone. Zara is a speaker/trainer & author. Alfred is an award-winning journalist and expert on business and personal finance. The couple, both “Do-Better Fanatics”, lead sessions on personal growth, self-love and resiliency, healthy relationships and “grown” decision-making at live events across the country.

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