For the best relationships, aim to focus on warming up your own side of the fence - instead of trying to fix, change or improve others so they are more loveable.
It is easy to fall into the trap of making relationship conflicts about the other person. What they said or didn’t say. What they did or didn’t do. What they meant or didn’t mean. But to proactively move from conflict to connection, you must remember that your relationships with others are a perfect reflection of your relationship with yourself. Here are my five top tips for keeping your heart warm this winter.
1. Be the person you want to love
People try to take from others what they aren’t experiencing within themselves. If you think that someone else should be kinder, more communicative, giving etc. then ask: Where can I be more of what I want? When you become the person you have wanted other people to be, many conflicts dissolve away because you no longer resist the lack of certain attributes in others and aren’t attached to them being a better or improved version.
2. Take everything as an invitation to love better
We habitually want other people to change so we don’t have to. However as the saying goes, when you point the figure there are always three pointing back at you. Look for themes in any arguments, disappointments and common feedback you receive from others. Don’t waste time playing the blame game to instead be open and humble. Explore if any issue you have with someone else is an invitation to learn how to love in a more unconditional way.
3. Look for opportunities to give
Service sits at the heart of the most successful relationships. ‘How can I serve you?’ as opposed to ‘What’s in it for me?’ Whenever you feel a problem arising in a relationship, find ways to give and be of service. When you make the relationship about how you can help the other person to be happy, feel loved and have a great day (without trying to fix or change them), then it’s amazing how fluid and fun relationships become.
4. Be willing to share more of yourself
Raising your defensive walls within relationships is a fear-based habit that can be transcended. There is great strength in vulnerability because it takes humility and courage to let your ‘weaknesses’ be seen by others. I am constantly amazed by how quickly conflict evaporates when one party is willing to honestly share what’s really going on for them. ‘When you did that I felt scared that you might leave me’ or ‘when you work late I question if it’s because you don’t want to be home with me’. It’s very hard to be in conflict with someone waving the transparent flag of vulnerability.
5. Don’t go changing trying to please me
Would you feel completely loved by someone if they always wanted you to be different? If you weren’t quite good looking enough, funny enough, clever enough, rich enough or tidy enough, for example? How loved would you feel living with that kind of pressure to perform? I can only assume, not very much.
My spiritual teacher once asked: Are you willing to fully commit to this relationship, even if the other person never changes? Well, are you? Forcing others to live up to your criteria for what’s ‘loveable’ only leads to a fake love with its foundations based in judgement. But if you desire deeper connections then let others be enough, exactly as they are now, it’s the key to loving without limits.