Have you ever fallen out of love? Ever felt like you lost yourself during a relationship? Dated someone you felt sorry for, before “falling in love” and eventually getting your heart broken?
Or maybe you’re reading this, because you always seem to do the things your SO wants to do.
A little more selfishness just might be what you need.
We’ve stigmatized the word “selfish,” associating it with concepts like egotism and self-absorption, but a selfish act doesn’t have to be egotistical. That’s because focusing on you and your needs is one of the best things you can do for other people around you, especially your significant other.
If we need to, we can rephrase it to something a bit more friendly, like “thinking about yourself and your needs.”
Taking care of yourself and your needs is the first step toward creating the best life you can, and the best way to improve your relationship.
1) Taking care of your needs will free you up to help others
Have you ever felt mad? neglected? Like an emotional mess? Hungry (hangry)?
Did you really feel like you were mentally prepared to meet someone else’s needs? No, of course not!
It’s like being on an airplane, and the instructional video tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. It’s because you’re not much help to someone else when you’re suffocating.
The best thing that you can do for your partner is work on yourself. When you and your partner both have your basic needs met, then and only then, can you come together to create something bigger and better than you could accomplish alone, and that’s what a lifelong partnership is all about–doing more and being better than either of you could alone.
2) Loving who and how you choose will help you create the relationship you really want
Sometimes you’ll be so infatuated with another person that you just follow along with whatever they want to do. You may change yourself to fit their lifestyle, even convince yourself that that’s the person you want to be.
Two things usually happen:
1) Your partner falls in love with the “new you”, instead of the real you.
2) You stop living for yourself, until living for someone else becomes too much to bear.
Always being you may scare some people away, but trust me when I tell you that those are not the people you want to be with, and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. It’s just not the person who’s going to fulfill your emotional needs in the long run.
When you stay true to yourself and to who you are, when you do the things you want to do, because you enjoy them or you’re trying to accomplish some goal, you’ll meet other people who are more like you. You’ll meet people who have the same interests, and hopefully, the same values.
3) Doing what you love will teach your SO how to be a better partner
Your significant other doesn’t know what you like to do until you tell him. She doesn’t know your hobbies until you let her in on that part of your life. Your partner may not understand why you have to leave at 5 am until you say, “I love fishing on Saturdays, because it gives me the time I need to reflect on the week. It has nothing to do with not wanting to spend time with you.”
Our tendency, when someone questions a motive, is to lash out, raising the tone of the conversation and escalating or creating tension in the room. By giving your partner the simple explanation she deserves, you’re giving her the option to be understanding of your wants and needs.
4) Knowing what your desires are will help you work together better
If you’ve skipped the self-discovery stage of your relationship (see The Five Stages of a Conscious Relationship), you may not even really know what you want.
Someone who really knows what he wants is someone who’s gone further than asking that simple question–what do I want? He asks himself, “how do I want to feel? What do I want to be? What beliefs do I have that hold me back? What step can I take right now to move in that direction?” And he works on himself every day.
Only when you really know where you’re headed, do you know how another person can add to that vision.
5) Focusing on the 4 pillars is the best way to get across the needs of both partners and figure out a way to satisfy them.
The four pillars are appreciation, connection, vision, and growth (in that order). Where do you want to be in your relationship?
Appreciate your partner by flaunting her! It will make her feel special and recognized. Speak well of him, even when he’s not with you.
When you appreciate your partner, it makes them feel good about the relationship, but it also helps you recognize all the little things that make him special, or her unique. We take way too much for granted. My wife, for example, is a great mother who’s caring for Melaya by herself just so I can write.
When I recognize her as a good mother, it’s a subtle reminder to my brain that I have a lot to be thankful for, serving as an encouragement to keep moving forward.
Take specific action to connect every day. Deborah and I have our normal routine, but even when we’re extremely busy, we do something..go for a walk, watch a tv show, talk about our upcoming book. Connecting with your partner will help you stay emotionally intertwined, and take some of the stress off from the day. And when you’re feeling under pressure, it serves as a reminder that you’re not in this alone.
Visualize your future. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? How are you going to get there together?
You grow when you have a goal, you reach for it, and then you learn from the process. It’s difficult to grow if you don’t learn from the process, which is why my wife and I love journaling together. We reflect back on past mistakes and triumphs, successes and failures. We write and express our thoughts together about how to improve, and then we act upon it.