Conscious Connections: 7 Tips for Keeping the “You” in Your Union - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 9, 2014

Conscious Connections: 7 Tips for Keeping the “You” in Your Union

Women are notorious for losing themselves in relationships.  Being natural nurturers and caregivers, the female gender often lets go of their own needs and desires for the sake of others, whether friends, family, or even foe at times.  This is especially true in romantic relationships, as they aim to please their partner.  And although this may seem like an altruistic trait, it is one that often leaves a woman exhausted, resentful, and lost, and unfortunately often also marks the end of her relationship.

Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, knew all too well the risks of giving oneself away as he said The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all.”  He knew that this loss of self was a slow and unconscious process—one that poses a deadly risk to our very soul.

The word “mindfulness” has become a common part of the English language, referring to a moment to moment awareness of the responses, behaviors, and actions of ourselves and others.  Countless articles, books, and blogs discuss the importance of remaining mindful as we choose a mate.  However, in my psychotherapy practice, I prefer the word “consciousness” over mindfulness, since it implies both a deeper level of awareness and also an active commitment to preserving self throughout every milestone in life, perhaps most importantly in the process of building a healthy, lifelong relationship.

There are many reasons why a woman may lose herself in the midst of her relationship–  she may try to please her partner without regard to her own needs, she may model herself after her mother who also gave herself away, she may adopt a traditional submissive female role, she may lack self-esteem and assertiveness, she might over-compensates for her partner’s lack of responsibility or emotional availability, she might be too busy to acknowledge her own needs, or perhaps she simply doesn’t know what her needs and desires truly are.  Regardless of the reason, losing oneself is dangerous not only to a relationship, but also to a woman, herself.

So how do you protect your most vital ally, your “self”, while in a relationship?

Following are seven tips to help you keep you grounded while creating conscious connections and maintaining the “you” in your union:

1. Know who you are.

I have lost count of the number of times a female client has told me that she has no idea who she is, no matter how old she may be at the time.  Although changing somewhat, society still seems to encourage women to take the backseat in both their families and careers, and instead work to define and support the identity of their partner instead.  I’ve also lost count of the number of times a client has discovered that her “dis-ease” with life is related to the fact that she has given away her own hopes and dreams for the sake of others, and lost her sense of who she is and what is important to her as an individual.

Continually working to understand who and what you are physically, psychologically, socially, interpersonally, environmentally, intellectual/occupationally, financially, spiritually, sexually, and recreationally, will help you create a solid foundation in which to secure your own identity as part of your partnership.

2. “To Thine Own Self Be True.” 

It is one thing to know who you are and what you represent, and another to maintain your identity, interests, and needs in the midst of your relationship.  “Being true” to yourself through your words and actions demonstrates your commitment to yourself and assures you of maintaining a conscious, equal partnership.

3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Historically, women have always had a difficult time voicing their needs, often because if they did so they were shunned, shamed, or shushed in one way or another.  Even today, women are taught that to express their needs is selfish and that they should be satisfied with whatever they get out of life, rather than speaking up to guarantee that their needs are met.

Modern conscious connections demand that women speak their truth.  It is impossible for a relationship to be healthy unless a woman is able to fully express herself and receive what she needs.

4. Know your boundaries. Set your boundaries. Maintain your boundaries.

Women’s boundaries have also historically been greatly violated, assuming that all of their boundaries were permeable as long as they fit the needs of others.  Today, it is imperative to not only know and honor your boundaries, but also know and honor those of others as well.  Such boundaries may include both physical and emotional parameters, and are necessary in differentiating yourself from the identity of another.

5. Demonstrate your personal integrity.

Although “integrity” is a term used to depict the nature of a man, it isn’t a word that is often used to describe a woman.  Women are more likely to be measured according to their level of self-esteem—living life from the “outside in”, always comparing oneself to another.  How a woman looks and acts is often a reflection on how she thinks the world wants to see her, rather than on what principles she holds for herself.

Living with integrity shows the world that you are aware of and hold strong moral standards, that you display an undamaged “wholeness” of character, and that you portray complete harmony in what you think, say, and do.  By living in this way—making decisions, speaking, and acting from your truth, you demonstrate—or live–through your integrity.  In doing so, you live from the “inside out”—bypassing the need to meet societal expectations and instead living in an authentic way that more closely fits who you truly are.  This is difficult in our culture, but it is also a much more desirable trait.

6. See yourself as an equal.

Never have women as a whole felt equal to the rest of the population.  In fact, it was just over 50 years ago that women were allowed to vote.  However, healthy, modern relationships require both parties to perceive equality in their union.

First and foremost, it is necessary to see yourself as an equal to your partner. Without this belief you will not only lose yourself by deferring to your partner, but also in not expecting and even demanding the respect that you deserve.

7. Respect yourself first and foremost!

Probably the most important factor in preserving self is to develop and maintain a sense of self-respect.  If you don’t respect yourself, none of the above tips will be possible and you will likely lose yourself far before you ever realize it.

To have self-respect means that you honor yourself in all ways (as demonstrated in the tips above), and actively work to prevent violation of self at all cost.  This implies that you know what it would mean to give yourself away and that you are willing to invest in preserving your self no matter what.

As recently as a generation ago, women didn’t feel empowered enough to follow the tips listed above.  But times have changed and women want more out of their lives and want more from their relationships than they thought possible—or worthy of– in the past.  Modern relationships require a much more conscious approach to choosing a mate—one that includes a more mutually agreeable set of circumstances.  And for women, this means knowing and living in a way that maintains their “self” throughout their lives.

About the author

Dr. Katherine T. Kelly

Author of “Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living”, Dr. Katherine T. Kelly, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., is a clinical psychologist, author and speaker.  For more information or to contact Dr. Kelly, go to www.drkatherinetkelly.com.




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