Love and healthy relationships are something that we all desire and deserve. We all want to feel appreciated and acknowledged, safe and secure, celebrated and cherished, and embraced and engaged. We all want and need to feel loved. The challenge, however, is that many of us struggle with giving and receiving love. In many ways, we don’t know H.O.W. to give or receive love in a way that honors ourselves and our partners. But what I know for sure is that there are three very important steps that are required to CREATE Love that is supporting, sustaining and most all, satisfying.
The first step to giving and receiving love is the practice HUMILITY. Over the years, being humble has gotten a bad rap because we usually associate humility with being weak, shy or timid. But it takes a strong and confident person to be humble. It takes a secure person to appreciate that she is not higher than you or lower than you, but that you are equals. Humility is important in a relationship, and without it, you will not experience the depth of love that you desire. If you want true intimacy, you must practice humility.
Humility is also important because it keeps the relationship killers away. What are relationship killers? They are pride and arrogance. Believe me, nothing kills a relationship faster. Just think about your current friendships and relationships. Do you like to interact with people who are smug, self-righteous, egotistical or conceited? I bet you don’t. I don’t either. And, if you think of the top reasons why relationships and friendships fail, I am confident that pride and arrogance somehow played a role. Both of them create emotional barriers and emotional distance in a relationship. Pride shuts people out, and arrogance shuts them up. Both are hazardous to any relationship.
What are some ways to exercise more humility in your relationship? I am glad you asked.
· Realize that you don’t know everything. Your partner has her own perspectives, opinions, traditions, customs, beliefs, and systems. She does not have to abandon hers to partner with you and you don’t own the market on truth. Remain teachable. You don’t and will never know everything about your partner because she is not static. So don’t assume that you do. Ask questions and show interest. Also, ask for advice. She may know more than you know about certain subjects.
· Practice forgiveness. In other words, Give up your past hurts and disappointments, FOR a better future. Remember the forgiveness you extend, will one day be the same forgiveness you will need. Act responsibility too when you hurt people. Humble people accept accountability when they hurt others, even it if they hurt unintentionally. Don’t gloat or criticize when you are right. Nobody wants to hear “I told you so” or “you should have listened to me” or “you should have asked me”. Keep in mind that people who gloat are usually alone and friendless.
· Remember that you also have skeletons in your closet so don’t judge, especially when you don’t know or have the facts. And remember, even when the facts, you still MAY NOT have understanding.
· Remember that humility means different things to different people; humility is influenced by a person’s culture. So make sure you know the culture, and then practice humility.
The second step to giving and receiving love is to remain OPEN. Openness is key because it is the ability to welcome and invite people into your presence, and at the same time, make them feel safe. It is the invitation and the request to bring all of who are you to the relationship. Openness is a wonderful gift to give someone, but openness is sometimes difficult for us to accept and practice. Why? Because society, families, churches and other external factors have forced us to hide or conceal parts of who we are. We have in many ways been rewarded and encouraged to lie, or at least obscure the truth. But like the saying goes, “I rather be hated for who I am, than to be loved for who I am not”.
So, who are you? Only you really know, and only you can really tell. So strive to be open, honest, direct and sincere. Challenge yourself to be transparent and vulnerable. But remember that openness does not guarantee acceptance or agreement, but it does promote awareness. And, many times awareness is what we need to feel acknowledged and appreciated. How you can you encourage openness in your relationship? Remember the following. A closed mouth does not get fed. Openly express your needs, desires and wants so that they can be addressed.
· A closed mind can’t be lead. Remain receptive, approachable and teachable. Always be willing to learn about yourself, your partner and your relationship. And most of all, try not to label or categorize things you don’t understand. Increase your tolerance for ambiguity.
· A closed book does not get read. In many ways, your life is a book of experiences. Let your partner read your book so that she can win at loving you. Without data, people do damage. Nothing good comes from being closed. Opportunities mainly come from opening your mouth, mind, heart and soul. So be open - to love, to learning and to life.
The finally way to love is to be WELCOMING. Being welcoming not only means being friendly, kind and generous, it also means being accepting. And, there is a difference between being open and welcoming too. Openness says I am receptive to you, however welcoming says I receive you. Welcoming says I accept you, hear you, grasp you, get you, and meet you. Being received and admitted into a person’s heart can be life-changing. In many respects is a way of saying I love you - warts and all. Acceptance is powerful; it is one of our greatest human needs.
Welcoming, acceptance, is also one of the ways that we communicate respect and dignity for others. It is one of the ways we communicate value to our love ones. You want a loving relationship, be welcoming. I will discuss the importance of acceptance in greater detail at the CREATE Love conference.
So H.O.W do you love? Practice Humility, Exercise Openness and Be Welcoming. These three decisions can make a good relationship, great. Also, three decisions can make you better as a person and partner. So when you don’t feel good about yourself or your relationship, ask yourself one question: H.O.W.am I loving me and my partner? As the saying goes, the truth will set you free.
I look forward to exploring some of these concepts in greater detail at the CREATE LOVE Conference. Imani and I look forward to seeing you there. Be sure to register!
Author of I Can Depend on Me