If you're aching finally to find love in the new year, forget about dating advice.
And if you want to improve your relationship, we have some surprising advice: forget about trying to make your relationship better!
Complaining that there are no good people out there or that your partner needs to change x, y, and z in order for you to be happy will practically guarantee that you're going to get more of the same in the coming year -- and the year after that.
But if you're truly ready to do everything you can to enjoy an exhilarating love life, read on.
How To Guarantee Your Best Year Of Love
The most powerful thing you can do to create the relationship of your dreams -- whether you're searching for a partner or you've been with one for decades -- is to focus on the only person you have the power to change: YOU!
Think about it: if you keep doing what you're doing, and thinking what you're thinking, you're going to keep getting what you've got! Nothing will change in your world until you change. So, rather than focusing on what you want "out there" to change, let's see how you can create the right INNER shifts. When you transform what's inside, you automatically see changes in your life -- especially your love life.
If you think this is going to take a lot of work, it's just the opposite. What causes frustration and despair is trying to control how other people think and behave. You will never get what you want by trying to control your partner. Instead, you'll wind up in a power struggle that zaps connection, romance, and vitality. And you'll never find the partner you want -- or create the relationship you crave -- if you don't commit first to being the most attractive and loving you that you can be. Here's how:
1. Cultivate self love
The idea of loving yourself isn't some kind of airy-fairy, New Age concept. After working with thousands of singles and couples, we know that a lack of self love is behind almost every relationship struggle.
When you don't fully embrace all the parts that make you who you are -- even the "ugly" ones -- you'll keep generating situations that will confirm your "unlovability." For instance, if you're single and deep down you don't believe you are worthy of genuine love -- because you think you're too fat, too old, too damaging, or too demanding -- you will attract partners who either can't or won't love you -- likely because they feel unlovable themselves.
Once you're in a relationship, lack of self love can show up as neediness -- nothing your partner says or does will make you believe that they love you. Or, your insecurity may manifest as criticism or withdrawal.
How do you know if you suffer from a lack of self love? Take a look at the patterns in your life -- especially your romantic relationships. If there is inevitably pain and struggle, lack of self love is most likely at play.
2. Shift from criticism to appreciation
Try this experiment: in a 24-hour period, count how many times you catch yourself being critical or judgmental.
Most people are astounded to discover how often they are in criticism mode. That's because criticism is extremely habit forming. It can become a default-way of relating to others and thinking about the world, and before you know it you're criticizing on auto-pilot. Criticism feeds itself -- the more you do it, the more things you need to find to criticize, meaning you will litter your entire life experience with things you need to criticize.
The cure for criticism is the same for any other bad habit: stop and replace with a new, positive habit. For criticism, you're in luck -- because the perfect antidote happens to be appreciation. In 2016, wake up and consider yourself in appreciation mode. Make it a priority to search out positive aspects in your life -- from your dates to your partner to your job.
Very soon, appreciation will be your new habit. And it happens to be a very attractive one.
3. Explore your creativity
Do you suffer from "I'm not creative" syndrome? If so, you might be tempted to skip right over this section, but take note: we're not referring to channeling your inner Picasso (although artistic expression will most certainly make you a more sensual partner!) Instead, when we talk about creativity, we mean anything you do that gives your life purpose.
If you lose track of time immersed in a book, cooking a new recipe, or being out in nature, you're exploring your creativity. If organizing your closets gives you a high or you feel at peace when volunteering, those count as creative pursuits, too.
Creativity is supremely important, because we've seen that when people don't take time to nurture it, they inevitably feel unsatisfied. And because people don't recognize that the root of their dissatisfaction is a lack of creative expression, they start to blame other people for their lack of happiness -- including their partners or their dates.
This year, resolve to spend a minimum of 10 minutes a day indulging your creative side, and watch your relationships take off.
4. Get in touch with your body's wisdom
Would you believe your body is, in many ways, more intelligent than your mind?
Your tuned up experience of your body is actually a shortcut to solutions you've never thought of, and it's also a gateway to instant connection. Specifically, we know there are three key areas in your body that will reliably tell you what you're really feeling in any given situation:
If you feel ongoing tension in the back of your neck, you're likely harboring some anger. If there is a persistent heavy feeling in your throat or chest, you're feeling sad or longing. If there is a common queasy-racy feeling in your stomach, you're most likely afraid.
How can this help you in your relationships? By cutting out a lot of the clutter your mind generates -- clutter that inevitably hinders connection. The next time you're on a date, use your curious attention to become aware of the butterflies in your stomach. Or, the next time your partner says they're working late (again), tune in to the knot in your belly that tells you you're afraid he or she doesn't want to be with you as much.
And then you need to...
5. Express your true emotions
If you're nervous on a date, you're likely to try to cover it up by talking too much. You think you're coming across as cool and confident, but your date is will sense that something is off -- and you'll lose a key opportunity to connect.
Instead of launching into a bunch of interview questions, see what happens if you pause for a moment, tune into the sensation in your stomach, and share with your new friend that you're feeling a little nervous. In this simple move, you've defused the tension in the air while opening up the window for deeper conversation.
In a relationship, you could choose to attack your partner with a complaint about working overtime -- which will likely lead to a drawn-out verbal battle and even more distance. Or, you could say something true, simple, and much more powerful: "I'm afraid that you don't want to spend time with me."
6. Keep it fun and simple
Few things are more detrimental than "working" on a relationship. Yet countless couples think that's exactly what they have to do: compromise, endless talking and dissection, therapy.
We've found that the majority of problems in a relationship are caused by what is unsaid -- meaning you'll never be able to "fix" your relationship by talking more. In fact, trying to do so will inevitably drain the good feelings and intimacy out of your relationship. If you need to say something, say it simply, as in our example about the workaholic partner above.
The same goes for dating: you don't need to get your partner's entire life history on a first, second, or even third date. Focus on enjoying each other -- there will be plenty of time for ongoing discovery later.
Most importantly, shift from expecting your partner or your dates to change -- and see what you can do in every moment to be a partner you'd want to spend a lifetime with.
Katie and Gay's free relationship e-newsletter, Hearts In Harmony, explores the challenges and glories of lasting love. Based on the tools they've developed throughout their 30+ year marriage and taught to thousands, you'll learn powerful insights and practical techniques you can start using today -- whether you're in a relationship or eager to attract one. www.heartsintrueharmony.com