by Lydia Waruszynski, M.Ed
A new year offers all of us a fresh start, a blank canvas upon which to draw on our own life experiences . Taking stock of how the last year went -as in what went well and what didn’t go so well- allows us another chance at getting it right…once again. Yes, for most of us, the challenge is mainly in making change stick. It takes a whole lot more than just flipping the calendar. In other words, it takes self-awareness, know-how and the right attitude.
Staying committed to your goals is the first step in getting yourself to where you want to be. In fact, breaking down your resolution into smaller, attainable goals can prove more helpful in staying the course. Too many people give up before they even begin because their ideas are either exaggerated or not well thought-out. This is an important point. A plan of action is definitely required if you are going to go the distance. Focus determines direction. Likewise, considering how you are working toward that special something can make it more tangible. Re-evaluation is often necessary. Going back to the drawing board can help restore faith and sketch the way forward to make a better go of things . Knowing this is key! And also the fact that changing one’s behaviour -especially bad habits- rarely happens overnight. Unhealthy behaviours develop over the course of time, so replacing them with healthier ones requires time. We can only really get better at what we do when we become what we repeat. So, go easy with yourself. You will have occasional lapses. Normal. To err is to be human, after all:-)
And probably nowhere more so than when making changes in your own relationships.
RESOLVE TO BECOME THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE
Most people don’t associate making resolutions with relationships. It’s an interesting oversight given the fact that research consistently reveals that the quality of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships. Oh sure, most people will talk about wanting to find love, or the perfect partner, but rarely does one approach it from the perspective of first looking within- as in improving the relationship one has with oneself. Or, to put it another way: by learning more about how to “become” the right partner, as in self-improvement (to work on oneself for the betterment of the couple), instead. All I can tell you is from where I sit, how you show up for your relationship matters. It matters a lot. Asking yourself, “How Am I Being a Loving Partner? What Am I Giving in Relationship? How Am I Sharing Myself? How Am I Making it More Meaningful? can help you not only take stock of -but also transform- your life in the direction you desire. It’s not just about being more accountable but about getting more authentic with yourself, even risking your true self- “warts-’n-all” so that you may be more aligned to also recognize the same in your partner. It’s easy to expect (even demand) that someone else be attentive, compassionate, faithful, loving, understanding and vulnerable. However, it has an even greater chance at manifesting when first modelled and reflected back. What’s that old saying, “We teach others how to treat us?” So, if you want your partner to be more romantic with you, be more romantic with them. If you want your partner to be more present and listen to you when you speak, focus your full attention on your partner as you listen to them. When all is said and done, we teach people what we will accept or tolerate from them. We set the standards. Hence, in order to change a relationship, you must be willing to change. Resolving to become more of the person you want your partner to be can definitely lead your relationship to a better place. It can also allow you to grow into the best version of yourself.
Below is a Self-Awareness exercise to help you take stock of your own values and ideal relationship.
The Perfect Partner Exercise
Suppose a miracle happened and your partner suddenly turned into your perfect “soul mate”: no faults at all, no annoying habits, always there for you, able to meet your every need, want, and desire .... If that happened, then how would you change? Please take your time to seriously consider this and write your answers below.
What would you stop, start, do more of and less of?
What sort of partner would you try to become? What sort of personal qualities would you develop?
What attitude would you cultivate toward your partner?
How would you speak to him/her when you wanted something?
How would you respond to him/her when they were in pain?
How would you treat him/her when they made a mistake or screwed up?
Is there a gap between the way you’d ideally like to behave as a partner – the values you’d like to live by -- and the way that you actually are behaving?
What is stopping you from living by your values right now?
What do you fear might happen if you did start to live more by your values?
What do you think needs to happen first before you can start living more by your values?
Do you believe your partner should change before you do?
adapted from: © Russ Harris 2009 www.act-with-love.com
For more information as to how to effect change for your own relationships, please visit www.letstalkaboutlove.ca . Effective goal-setting is a skill. Getting the right help to change helps. And whichever area of relationship resolution you choose, remember that commitment paves the way, even if you find yourself starting all over again. Celebrate the small successes and go easy on your setbacks. Resolve to do better. Again and again. Happy 2020 to you!
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Hi, I'm Lydia- a modern-day warrior of the heart with a mission to reconcile the mystery and mastery of Love.