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Three Essential Questions To Ask Yourself En Route To True Love

Three Essential Questions To Ask Yourself En Route To True Love

Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Love

Whether it’s romantic, plutonic, or maternal, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” We’d love to be able to say “It ain’t so, Mr. Shakespeare!” but we can’t. And why can’t we? Why is love such a rocky path filled with more frost heaves than a New England road in the spring? Because too often we barely discover who we are before we become lovers, friends, and mothers. When we hitch our cart to another wagon without full knowledge of what we’re carrying or how that load will change once we’re on the road, we set ourselves up for a rough ride. This lack of understanding is a roadblock in love; a roadblock that causes us to reevaluate our relationships (particularly the ones full of frost heaves.) Before we can set our GPS for the best possible route, there are three basic questions we should ask ourselves at the start of our journey to love.

1. Who am I?

Before we can love someone, anyone, we must first know who we are, alone, as individuals. There are lots of great quotes out there that ask us to go one step further than this. Lucille Ball once said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” According to her philosophy, we don’t just have to know who we are, we must love who we are. The reality is, though everyone loves Lucy, everyone does not love themselves. We may not embrace all of our idiosyncrasies. Who loves their love handles? That’s a tall order. We do, however, have to acknowledge them. Before we can be comfortable with someone else, we should know what we like, and what we don’t like, about ourselves.

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To understand who we are, we can think about what we like to do, how we like to treat people, and how we like to be treated. When there’s not a soul in sight, what lights us up? What music do we love? What excites us? What drives us? In plain words, what are we passionate about? Before we were someone’s partner, best friend, or parent, we were us. Like so many other journeys in life, love’s journey should start from a place of self-awareness.

2. Who am I With You?

Are we the same person we have always been when we are with our beloved? Do we feel as though we can “be real” around each other? Though we think, feel, and act differently around different people, do we think, feel, and act totally unlike ourselves when we’re in our loved one’s presence? Like prisms catch the sunlight, people are reflections of the light that pass through them. Do we shine our brightest when we are with our love, or do our find ourself overshadowed by his or her presence?

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Either way, the answer to this question leaves a lot to ponder. If we find that our authentic self shines brighter when we are with our special someone, then chances are it’s because he or she makes us feel like being ourself is okay. It’s more than okay. It’s expected. We are accepted for who we really are. On the the other hand, if we feel like our true self has changed out of a desire to please or appease who we’re with, then it’s time to reconsider whether this relationship is dimming our light and suppressing our genuine personality.

3. Who are We Together?

“Who are we together?” is an essential question in relationships. Do we help each other to be happy, healthy people? Do we encourage each other to be caring, emotionally sound individuals? Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not as simple as asking ourselves, “Are we good together?” When we love someone, lots of things feel good. This question goes beyond feelings. This question asks, “Are we good for each other?” Are the things that make us who we are “good” for the person we love?

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To answer this question, it will help if we identify which role we play in our relationship. The world is full of givers and takers. If we’re a giver who’s in a relationship with a taker and that works for us both, then great. More often than not, a giver will give until there’s nothing left; but if a taker doesn’t learn to appreciate what’s been given and give back… do we even need to say it? Really, if two takers come together, we have bigger issues here than awareness. Focus on survival.

Think Over Your Answers

If by asking ourselves these simple questions we have reaffirmed what we have always known about who we are separately and together – congratulations! Reflecting on our character and how the people in our life help us to express our individuality will make our relationship more meaningful. Realizing that we have made a healthy choice to love someone who loves the real us increases our appreciation of him or her. If the answers to these questions aren’t what we wanted to hear, think about them. Does the problem lie within ourself? If so, do we want to change? Does the issue come from who we have become around our loved one? Can he or she accept us?

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If the breakdown comes from who we are as a couple, can we become better for each other? Can we learn better ways of nurturing our differences rather than letting them divide us? Relationships, at heart, are about how two people relate to each other. It’s about compromise. Compromise is when two people concede something. If one person makes all the concessions, that’s not much of a compromise, is it? The course of true love may not run smooth, but this doesn’t mean that we should steam roll over each other in the process.

“Love is the goal, life is the journey” – Osho

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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