“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw
The day I met my creative designer, the first question he asked me was: “can you change?” I paused for a moment, not really knowing what he was wanting me to change and said, “yes, I think I can change.” That was the beginning of the Good Clean Love design as it lives today. It is also a moment I often go back to in my mind, as life continuously demands that I show up ready for the change coming at me in the moment… Some changes are relatively easy- it just takes a little flexibility and willingness to try something else on- but other changes, especially when it comes to our heart, are way more challenging and require all of our courage to keep up with the changes swirling around us.
One of the biggest changes that most people face when it comes to loving other people is giving up the idea that relationships should be easy. When we believe that our relationships should be effortless, we belittle the important work of the heart as a burden, rather than recognizing it for the irreplaceable value it brings to us in becoming our best self. So here are a few key pointers to change how you think about and interact in your intimate life- try any one and see how much life changes for the better.
Give up the idea of low maintenance
There are no low maintenance people or relationships. It is faulty thinking if that is what you are looking for or expecting- or worse still if that is how you perceive yourself. In all the myriad ways that we are different from each other, we all require and demand the same respect, understanding and acceptance which requires those who love or work with us to stretch. Coming into any relationship knowing that at times, and sometimes frequently, it will feel like a burden is the only realistic way to begin.
Focus on the needs of the relationship, not your own
The fastest way to fail at relationships is to focus on your own needs. This is the classic oxymoron of relating that often goes unlearned. A relationship that works, whether in the workplace or in the family acts as a container for growth. That is its purpose and why it requires so much energy. Focusing on the needs of making the relationship work which are different from any of the participants is not our first response. We go into most relationships looking to meet our own needs and then grow progressively more frustrated that we cannot. Ironically and surprisingly, when we grow up enough to look at what the relationship needs, we find our needs being met.
Growth is a healthy kind of pain
Relating successfully is a growth process which by definition is an activity that includes moments of discomfort and even pain. It never ceases to amaze me the resistance and fear that relationship growth can generate in some people. This seems especially true among younger people who have grown up amidst so much relationship instability. Employing avoidance over attention is a fruitless approach to relating. Instead we need to accept the inevitable suffering that comes from pruning away what is not really helpful in our own personalities so that the relationship can thrive.
Trust the resilience of your heart
Human hearts grow stronger and more resilient through use. Having the courage to face our weaknesses, our unreasonable expectations and our stubborn immaturity is painful but useful. This is how relating carves us with precision into the best version of ourselves. And there is nothing else that will do it at effectively. This work of the heart is literally the work we were born to do, everything else: all that we accumulate and achieve is a shadow of the work of the heart.