There is always a lot going on between two people in a relationship. But often, much of what goes wrong in a relationship has to do with what's going on within our own minds. Most of us have a constant dialogue running in our heads, analyzing our relationship and informing us on how to behave. Instead of simply acting based on how we feel, we are advised by our "critical inner voice," "Don't be a fool"; "Don't let her know how much you like her"; or, "Don't tell him what you're really thinking." These thoughts may seem self-protective, but they're actually self-sabotaging.
While it may sometimes feel like we have to outsmart our feelings so as not to get hurt, when it comes to relationships, we are far better off being vulnerable and making a practice of being the one who loves more. Throughout our lives, the only person we can fully change or develop is our own self. We can strive to become the best we can be at expressing love. And when we do, we give ourselves a better chance of getting what we want.
As we get close to someone, we must not listen to the critical inner voice that warns us not to "be a sucker" or "love too much." This doesn't mean choosing someone who doesn't love us, or staying with someone who mistreats us. Rather, the goal is to develop into a giving, loving person. It's a worthy pursuit to learn to do extra things and go the extra mile to show love.
Here are five tips on how to be more loving in your relationship:
We can only feel our own feelings. Being loving is the best thing we can do for our own well-being, because it allows us to feel genuinely good about ourselves. It is a skill that benefits us in all of our relationships, with our friends and our children as well as our romantic partners. Plus, when we expand our own ability to be loving, we grow our capacity to be loved. It opens us up to new possibilities, while allowing us to feel a consistent sense of honesty and integrity within ourselves.
Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at PsychAlive.org.