Successful relationships start with each of us. When we master a relationship with ourselves, we then can expand our relationships with a partner, friends, family, customers and our community. Intertwined with our relationships are other aspects of life, like spirituality, health and finances.
To take it a step further, we even have relationships with objects. For example, take your favorite cup. How would you describe that cup? What are some of the characteristics you like about your favorite cup? Whether it is a champagne flute—etched, pretty and sleek—or a 32-ounce coffee mug with a slogan or picture, there are subliminal characteristics you are looking for in that relationship that reflect into other areas of your life. For example, I drink out of a 32-ounce cup, and one of the things I strive for in my relationship with my wife, Caryl, is to be in love every day. Metaphorically, with a big cup, I can take a sip continue to drink love all day long!
How does one love oneself?
It is hard for most people to practice self-love. Most of us are brought up in an environment where our parents and family probably did the best they could; but, in retrospect, more than likely there was a lot that they did not know. When I was growing up, my parents were emotionally unavailable. They did not know how to encourage or validate me. As a result, my self-confidence was down for a long period of time in my life. So, when I realized this one of the first things I started to do was to hang around people who believed in me, saw my gifts and kept reminding me of them. And through the lens of others I started to see my own gifts for myself.
In 2008, one of my big revelations occurred with Twitter when people started responding after I began to share my gift of coaching on this platform. That was a personal validation. People were asking questions. With every step, I gained more self-confidence and realized my gifts and skills. So, if you are in a period of self-doubt or are unable to love yourself, just look at the little things you have done and look to others to help remind you of them.
A great exercise is to write down 100 accomplishments that you have achieved in your life, things that you are proud of. Everyone has a deep well of brilliance. Know that you have already accomplished so much, and probably have not paid attention to those accomplishments. It is a revelation to see what you have already done. Start celebrating those moments!
Is there a correlation between loving others, self-love and confidence?
There is a nurturing part of our being where our confidence stems from. Our bottom line need is validation, and most of us get that validation through some expression of love. When we are in a place of love, we become confident. We feel more accepted, and from there we can become more loving. Often, people get hung up because when they feel unlovable they actually need love but start pulling away; it can be hard to love somebody when they are not feeling lovable.
Should we love by the Golden or Platinum Rule?
Everybody knows the Golden Rule: we should do onto others as we would do onto ourselves. The Platinum Rule states: we should do onto others as they would do onto themselves. For example, if I loved you the way I want to be loved, it is not going to fulfill your needs.
My first coach conveyed a perfect story to me. He received a phone call from his wife one day. She said, “Meet me downtown.” And, he said, “Why?”
She said, “Just meet me downtown.”
So, he met her downtown and they were on the corner, and he said, “What’s going on? Why are we here?”
She stated, “Just follow me.”
They go in the building, into an elevator, and get off at a marriage counsellor’s office. And, he looked at his wife, and stated, “Why are we here?”
She still said nothing. They get into the counsellor’s office. The counsellor asked “Why are you here?”
Now she finally opened up and expressed, “Well, he doesn’t love me!”
He voiced, “What do you mean I do not love you?!!! I hug you all of the time.”
She looked at her husband and conveyed, “But, you never say the words.” In his culture, his family hugged as an expression of love. Throughout their entire relationship she felt unloved because her family expressed love with words. She needed to hear the words, “I love you.”
And, he never said those words. So, even though he loves her and feels great about their relationship, she feels he doesn’t love her because he hasn’t expressed it verbally.
If you learn each other’s love languages—how your partner best responds to love, how he or she feels loved—you will create a healthy, loving relationship. Gary Chapman wrote an excellent book called The Five Love Languages. There are five primary needs in love: receiving gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch and quality time. You can take this assessment test (http://www.5lovelanguages.com) and share it with your partner. Have your partner take the same test, so you can find out his or her primary Love Languages.
For me, it is words of affirmation and quality time that are vital because these needs were not fulfilled growing up. For my wife, Caryl, it is acts of service. So, if I share with Caryl words of affirmation and quality time, it would not have the same meaning to her as it does to me. However, acts of service like doing the dishes or the laundry, or going food shopping will warm her heart and brighten her day with a big smile.
Another way to determine how your needs are met is to write a list of all the ways in which you feel that warm rush of love. What happened? Did someone hold your hand? Did she play with your hair? Did he open the car door? The expression of love is an accumulation of all the little things. Very rarely is it a gigantic effort unless your primary need is receiving gifts—and that’s okay, too.
And your partner doesn’t have to do everything at once. For example, say: “I feel loved when you open the door or I feel loved when you spend time with me.” It is important to put the “or” in your request, so you do not overwhelm your partner with “and, and, and, and.” If you give your partner a list of little things he or she can do along the way, you will start building that foundation.
Remember, you need to find a way to keep courting, to keep falling in love with each other over and over again. There always will be ups and downs, and we shouldn’t get surprised when we hit those bumps because it’s not always “happily ever after.”
Most importantly, on a soul level, relationships bring out the things we need to heal. Challenges give us the ability to help each other grow and evolve—physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It teaches us to become more available for each other, and to become the best we can be.
Gary Loper is a recognized Twitter expert, mindset/life/business coach, motivational speaker/trainer, former talk radio host, and respected entrepreneur “Helping People Master the Business of Life.” He teaches strategies on how to become successful, to produce and maintain positive solutions, stay in a positive mindset, attract and manifest true wealth. Connect with Gary on Twitter @GaryLoper. Are you stressed about Twitter? Receive your FREE Twitter Review: http://bit.ly/ReviewTwitter.