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How To Have The Relationship You’ve Always Wanted

How To Have The Relationship You’ve Always Wanted

First off, let me say that I’m no relationship guru.  I don’t have any magic tricks or secrets to get you to the ideal relationship.  But fret not.  What I do have is a strong work ethic and the desire to try new things continuously and prune my approach to relationships in a way that continuously improves my situation.  In essence, what I have is the same as what you have—a Lifehack mentality.  And my Lifehack mentality is how I’ve come up with these strategies.  These ought to give you a strong foundation to build upon, and while no two relationships are alike, they all require nurturing and time to grow.  Consider these tips the “Miracle Gro” for your relationship.

1. Determine what you want and what you’re willing to give.

Before you can work towards having the relationship you’ve always wanted, “the ideal relationship” needs to be defined.  It will be different for each of us and we need to know what is perfect for us. You may want to sit down with a notepad or computer and start writing.

Some questions you should be able to answer include: “What is important to me in a relationship? What are the necessities?  What are the big deal breakers?  How will this person treat me?  How will I treat them?  What am I willing to do?  What am I not willing to do?  How can I best please my partner?  How can my partner best please me?”

It may seem like a silly exercise, but in doing it, you’ll start to realize what you actually want (which is likely different than what you think you want) and what you’re actually willing to give.  You have to start with realistic expectations and commitments.  Give up on the idea of what a relationship “should” be like, and start to determine exactly what you want yours to be like.

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2. Assess your relationship “self.”

Unless you’re just a selfish person, having the relationship you’ve always wanted isn’t just about getting what you want, but about satisfying your parter’s needs as well.  Since the part of the “ideal relationship” that you have the most control over is what you do, you should start by assessing your relationship “self.”

Are you doing everything you can to create the ideal relationship environment?  Are you fulfilling all of the necessary requirements?  Does your behavior/commitment to the relationship deserve an ideal relationship?

Work on yourself to become someone worthy of a perfect relationship.  Make sure you’re exceeding all of your partner’s expectations, and satisfying them beyond all requirements.  Work on yourself so that you are creating the perfect relationship for your partner.  This will make it much easier for them to do the same for you.  The best way to assess your relationship “self” is by soliciting feedback.

Ask your partner, your family, and your close friends for feedback with regards to your relationship with them.  Prepare yourself to accept any feedback they are willing to give you.  Remember, they are doing you a favor, not attacking you.  Take their feedback into great consideration and assess how well you fit the role you will play in your ideal relationship.

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3. Take responsibility for your happiness.

Your happiness is not your partner’s responsibility.  Nor is their happiness yours.  Take responsibility for your own happiness.  In doing so, you take back the control and decide to be happy.  It’s unfair for us to put that responsibility on our partner, and yet so often we do.  Then we blame them for our not being happy.  So stop it.  Take it back, and make yourself happy.

4. Give up on being right.

“You can be right or you can be happy.”  We’ve all heard that quote, but it bears repeating.  Too often we inflict damage on our relationship by requiring our partner to accept our point, rather than sharing in the experience of conversation fairly.  Remember, the goal is to enjoy each other’s company and friendship, not to establish intellectual dominance over the other person.  If your goal is the latter, join a debate club.

5. Perfect the art of conversation.

My wife and I have a pretty fantastic relationship.  It started with great conversation.  We’ve known each other since we were very young, and at some point in our teenage years we had one great conversation.  That conversation lead to us both wanting to have another, then another, then another.

Ten years later, and nearly four of those years married, we’re still having amazing conversations. We debate all sorts of things; politics, religion, world policy, science, medicine, business, art, books, movies, music, and much more.  Sometimes it seems like we’re arguing, and maybe even fighting.  But we know what we’re doing.  We have plenty of practice.  And we have the utmost respect for each other’s feelings.  We never cross lines to hurting one another or insulting.   We get heated at times—I tend to get loud when I get pumped.  But these conversations are the life blood of our relationship, and I look forward to growing old with her and having these conversations.

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6. Be more affectionate.

I’m not necessarily talking a bunch of PDA here, but find a comfortable form of affection and engage in it often.  Maybe you’re a hand-holder, maybe you’re a baby-talker (it’s more common than you think), or maybe you are the too-much-PDA type.  Whatever works for you, do it, and do it more.

Also, hug and cuddle more, even if you’re not the cuddling type. Multiple studies have shown that cuddling and physical contact with people we love releases oxytocin, or “the love hormone.” Oxytocin has been linked to promotion of attachment in relationships, boosting sexual arousal, improving social skills, and more, all of which seems quite beneficial to a good, strong relationship.

7. Be quick to apologize and be quicker to forgive. 

You should never go to sleep angry, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  But one thing is for sure: you should be quick to apologize.  Don’t hold your apology while waiting for his. Likewise, if your partner has apologized, be quick to forgive.  They are making themselves vulnerable with their apology, and you owe it to them to protect their feelings.  Develop this habit, and it will be easy to never go to sleep angry again.  Neglect this habit and you’ll spend many a night facing opposite directions gritting your teeth until you fall asleep.

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8. Make each other better.

Do you like the person you are when you are in the relationship?  Do you like the person your partner is?  Are you a better person in the relationship than you would be alone?  A relationship is a partnership, often with the expectation that it is for life (or at least for a long time).  Would you keep a business partner that was making you a worse person?  I know I wouldn’t.  Strive to make each other better, and you’ll both value the relationship a lot more.

9. Devote time to your partner.

This is something that I had to learn the hard way.  In never wanting to appear “soft,” I often would leave my partner to hang out with the guys.  I know, I know. How macho, right?  One day she finally told me that I wasn’t spending enough time with her.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to hang out with the guys (because she’s never stopped me from doing that), it was that she just wanted my attention as well.  Since then I’ve made a point to spend time with her each day.  Some times it’s the whole day; other times it’s a 10 minute conversation before we drift off to sleep.  But I try my best to devote some time in every day to her.  It means a lot to her.  And she means a lot to me.

10. Make it passionate.

We stress.  We get tired.  We have things to do tomorrow.  There are plenty of reasons not to expend the effort to “make it passionate.”  But I always imagine this: what if you were hoping for an evening of passion and he turned you down.  I know I’d feel pretty crumby, and probably a bit rejected.  I’d never want my partner to feel rejected by me.  So from time to time try to add a little passion to your relationship.  I’m sure you can find ways to do that.  If not, here are 5 Ways to Keep Passion Alive in Relationships.

Quick Tips

Here are a couple of quick tips to keep in mind when building/nurturing your relationship.  Not all of them will apply to everyone, so find which work for you and holdfast to them.

  • Give genuine compliments often
  • Always assume the best of your partner
  • Encourage, rather than expect, your partner to improve
  • Learn to listen actively
  • “Just Because” gifts never go out of style
  • Focus your efforts on what you can do for your partner, and they will likely do the same
  • Volunteer together—it makes you both feel really good about yourself and each other
  • Take care of yourself
  • Spend time apart
  • Appreciate the little things
  • Don’t neglect the “friendship” aspect of your relationship
  • Share secrets
  • Better yet, share fantasies
  • Create and work towards common goals
  • Spend more time outdoors together
  • Accept differences and agree to disagree

Obviously getting the relationship you’ve always wanted requires more effort and strategy than can fit in one blog post, but these tips will help create a solid foundation on which to build your ideal relationship.

What did we miss?  What do you do to keep your relationship in good order?  Leave a comment and help us find and create the relationship we’ve always wanted.

More by this author

Ibrahim Husain

Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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