Welcome to our Feature Series, bombshell!
While I’m blissfully away on maternity leave nurturing my bundle of joy, we’ve invited incredible leaders from different fields to speak about what they know best. I hope that the stories shared will inspire action and reflection within you, as they undoubtedly have within me.
Today John Howard, a friend and past client, is sharing his advice for being bold in your relationship. Such a juicy topic, I know you’re going to love it!
Make sure you make him feel right at home with lots of love in the comments.
It’s good to be bold in your relationship. Why?
Because relationships are built on connection, need, and authenticity. Connection is the cornerstone of a rockstar relationship and what connects us most is not the thinking part of our brain, but the simpler, more primitive parts: the emotional right hemisphere, the mid-brain, and the lower nervous system.
Those parts house the safety and security system, where decisions about who we feel close to are mostly made. What we think about people is secondary to the foundational calculation of “do I feel safe with you and can I trust you?”
To have connection you have to be fully present in your relationship. You can’t play it too safe from an intimacy standpoint, or you risk landing in that grey, neutral, boring zone.
Say what you really mean from your heart while looking your partner in their eyes. If this were the last time you were going to see your partner, what would you say?
Move toward your partner—not away—when he or she is upset, or when you’re upset. Being bold when it comes to emotional closeness and intimacy is what drives connection, relevance and meaning in your relationship.
How about need in relationships? Most of us are afraid of it. We’re independent, self-reliant, confident people and we don’t need others to soothe us or to make us feel better. Or so we think.
The reality is that as humans we are wired for connection, and need is a primary driver of meaning in relationships.
Sometimes I watch partners in my office interact when they’re hurt, or upset, and I don’t see them reaching out to one another for help, or asking for help. Vulnerability is a sign of a strong self, and when we ask for help we’re not only creating connection, but we are also making our partner feel important and valued rather than replaceable and useless.
Be bold in your need. Remember that need breeds bonding.
Finally, authenticity is the ultimate boldness in relationships. BE YOURSELF!
But what does that really mean?
It doesn’t mean you leave your partner high and dry to play video games all night by yourself because that’s ‘authentic.’ It means you show up, track your partner’s emotional needs, explain to him or her how much it means to you to get lost in your video games all night.
It means you tell your partner the inconvenient things, the embarrassing things that don’t make you look good. You take risks and chances, knowing others may judge you or not like you. That’s OK. You’ll bond more with the right people. And more importantly, you’ll feel known, which is a primary emotional need and desire.
Being authentic is being vulnerable, honest and transparent.
It’s not being harsh, crass or aggressive. Authenticity is soft power, not hard power. When we know who we are, we can let others into our real selves without slamming them over the head with our ‘authenticity.’
It’s hard to take risks and be bold in relationships. Yet when we do, we are rewarded with deeper knowledge of ourselves, more self-confidence, and a deeper sense of love for ourselves and others.
Take a chance—a risk—today, and be completely who you really are, vulnerably and fully present, in your relationships today. It’s a different way of living, and it feels great.
John Howard, MA, LPC is an Austin based psychotherapist who teaches the new science of relationships to professional audiences across the U.S. As a couples therapist, he understands what it takes for partners to have an amazing relationship with one another. John has spoken at Google, writes for the Huffington Post, and was 1 of 12 couples therapists in the world chosen to form the faculty of a neuroscience therapy institute. He is the Founder and CEO of Ready Set Love®, an educational platform that helps couples strengthen and deepen their relationship based on the latest science.
Pop your questions and insights in the comments below or reach out to John directly over on Facebook. We can’t wait to hear from you!