Relationships column: Create more giving behaviors
Life-giving actions and efforts provide meaning to our lives. They further our long-term goals and/or relationships, they feel energizing and exciting, they’re regenerative or they’re simply fun to engage in.
There’s several types of life-giving activities. First, there’s the literal: giving birth or saving someone’s life. Second, there’s the figurative: extremely engaged, helpful or generous people doing whatever they can to help other people, animals and/or the planet to survive and thrive. Finally, there’s the personal: engaging in activities, interests or relationships that revitalize you and replenish your mind, body, spirit, life goals, desires or hopes.
This article is going to focus on the personal. The following is a set of suggestions for how you can create more life-giving behaviors for yourself and for those relationships that matter most in your life:
What gives you a sense of purpose? What new challenges or interests might you add to your life? To find a greater sense of purpose, make a list of everything you would like to accomplish or experience before you die, create a plan for making those intentions and wishes occur — and then follow through with those plans.
Let other people in and permit yourself to feel vitally attached and engaged with them. And when conflicts or issues arise, as they inevitably will, proactively engage in conflict reducing and repair oriented communication or behaviors to clean those issues up. This requires you to hear someone else’s hurt or displeasure without responding with anger, mistrust, withdrawal or defensiveness. To do this means that other people will not feel as if they have to walk on eggshells around you. Eggshells diminish how close you will allow someone to get to you.
Engage in creative self-expression. It allows you to convey yourself in ways that are uniquely you.
Bounce back from disappointments, failures, losses or medical challenges, and learn how to wisely and successfully handle adversity or loss. This is commonly called resilience.
Affection keeps people feeling close with each other. Keep your primary relationship affectionate, or the relationship will grow more distant.
Fun knocks people out of despair, and it makes you feel alive. Do you take time to have fun?
Take good physical care of yourself, which includes eating healthy, exercising, going for appropriate medical checkups and doing other self-care activities that keep your mind, body and spirit vital.
Develop the capacity to both give and receive love — and do not withdraw or push love away when it is offered to you.
Expand yourself, by experimenting with new things to see if they might fit. It could include you trying new foods, or exploring a new interest, learning a new skill, refining an old skill or looking to better yourself.
Get assistance in cleaning up low self-esteem issues, so you are better able to believe in yourself, trust yourself, like yourself and accept yourself.
What changes would you like to make regarding love in your life? Regarding money? Adventure? Romance? Work? Friends? Family? Health? Sex?
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the bestselling book “Love, Sex, and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship.” Contact him at 303-758-8777 or visit neilrosenthal.com.
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