New Year’s resolutions often attempt to better the physical: eat healthier, exercise more, drink less. While a sound body can help create a sound mind, Terri Cole believes that improving the relationships in your life—including the one with yourself—will lead to a happier year and a happier you.
Cole, a psychotherapist, relationship expert and the founder of Real Love Revolution, sat down with 24Life to talk about attracting and sustaining healthy relationships built on authentic love.
Terri Cole: Let’s think about how we learn how to love. We learn from other humans, who are very flawed, who have their own injuries that they don’t figure out. So they pass it down to us. I call this your downloaded love blueprint.
24Life: If our blueprints are faulty, are our relationships doomed to repeat the past?
TC: I learned that I could actually change that love blueprint to have it aligned with what I wanted. The way things were for my parents didn’t need to be the way love turned out for me.
Look at your relationships, your friendships, your romantic relationships, your work relationships. You are the common denominator in your life. It’s your cracked pot that is attracting that perfectly cracked lid to repeat this experience. The question is, What are you repeating? Because you have to know how to change it.
24Life: Is there a way to figure that out?
TC: The beginning work is bringing all this stuff up through questionnaires, journaling and dream stuff. Self-knowledge, self-compassion, self-love are how you happen to your life—instead of your life happening to you. Awareness and information are the key to transformation. It takes some work and it is our first step in my Real Love Revolution program.
Let’s say you’re in a circumstance and you’re saying, “How am I here again with the same unavailable guy?” Or the same addicted guy or the same whoever. Ask yourself: Who does this person remind me of? Why is this dynamic familiar? Where have I felt like this before? Sometimes you are playing out modeled relationship behavior, sometimes you become your young self and the other person takes on the role of your disapproving parent. We repeat what we don’t heal, unconsciously hoping for a better outcome. But without new skills and insights the outcome will most likely be the same.
24Life: How can we heal after a failed relationship and attract new love?
TC: This is a beautiful opportunity to learn so you don’t have this exact same experience happen again. Start gathering intel the same way you would if you were an investigative journalist. It’s like we’re just removing a layer and then another layer of crap, misinformation, limiting beliefs. And as we do that, we get to the bottom. And suddenly, your love light is basically so bright that it’s not about you having to figure it out, to change yourself, to find the one. Your love light becomes so bright that just like a lighthouse, your beloved will find you.
24Life: Is there a fail-safe way to attract quality relationships?
TC: The first thing is to look at your relationship with yourself; it sets the bar for every other relationship in your life. Make sure the bar is high enough so that who you attract is someone you’re compatible with.
We have to understand the actual way we relate to the people in our lives, which has to do with your own effective communication, your own ability to draw boundaries, and your own ability to prioritize how you feel and what you want. If you do those things, it’s like no way you could end up in an unhealthy relationship.
24Life: Why are boundaries important, particularly for women?
TC: We’ve been taught that it is not feminine to say “no.” That if you prioritize your own wants, needs, desires, preferences, you’re a selfish B and nobody is going to like you.
When you start just drawing boundaries, you can honor yourself and then honor your relationships. When someone says, “Let’s go out Friday night. I’ll text you,” and then texts you at 11 p.m. on Friday and says, “What’s up?” that is the moment to speak up, don’t just pretend along with them. As Maya Angelou famously said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
24Life: Once we’ve found long-term love, how can we better that relationship?
TC: If you want to revitalize your long-term relationship, up your level of communication. “The 5 Love Languages” is a fantastic book.
I find that people think, “Well, if he or she would just do this,” then things would improve. Don’t tell your partner what they’re not or point out all the ways they suck because that doesn’t make anyone want to change. Start with you. Every relationship is a dance, and when you change your steps, the other person has absolutely no choice but to do a different, hopefully better, dance as well.
How can you be expected to know how do something no one ever taught you? Attracting and sustaining healthy, real love in your life is skill. And even if you weren’t taught, you definitely can learn.
It’s not magic—it’s psychology!
Click here for more information on Terri Cole’s 5 Pillars of Real Love and to check out her next Real Love Revolution course for women that begins on February 6, 2019.
Photo credit: Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com
Hair and makeup: Ava Roston