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Practice Love

Written by: Michelle Tillman-Cureton, LCMHC/PsychoTherapist

As a therapist, we are privy to hearing life stories, an individual’s experiences. We listen to their pain and their victories, the simple, small, and big things. Self-love, self-care, and wellness are synonymous with great health, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Lately, I am noticing a trend: we no longer know how to be in a healthy relationship nor do we know what one looks like. We're coached, argued with, and hurtfully told we are wrong for wanting more. Social media, reality shows, and life challenges normalize dysfunction, we learn to accept pain as a reward, we measure love by difficulty and hardship. We tend to move into relationships out of a specific want, losing sight of what we need. A client once shared with me: ”I do not want to date out of circumstance. Does that make me selfish?” I responded that was one of the most powerful statements I have heard in a while: “I do not want to date out of circumstance.” What a refreshing thought process, one that requires strength, self-discipline, and confidence. Relationships have become unhinged at the cost of “influence” and social popularity. Toxicity and narcissism have become synonymous with band-aid quotes and placating sentiments: “Go to therapy.” Yet, there is not any evidence of real change. We recycle patterns and repeat our past with someone new. Rarely does anyone commit to hard work. We unknowingly agree to be in relationships without ever understanding the difficulty in creating new patterns and different thought processes. I encourage you to recognize and learn red flags. Understand that red flags signify that this person is not for you and that “fixing” others is never a winning concept. We cannot "fix" people. Below are a few tips when seeking healthy relationships:

  1. Stay present and connected to your personal values.

  2. Do not date out of circumstance. Self-validation and self-prioritization are key.

  3. Know that any relationship is destructive when it decreases your quality of life.

  4. Partner disrupts communication with immediate family life: RED FLAG!

  5. Be mindful; take time to learn the Thinking Traps that can get in the way of creating a healthy relationship.

These thinking traps often limit the way we engage with our potential partners:

  • Concealing Trap: hiding parts of yourself.

  • Impediments Trap: locking into certain behaviors. (“I’m just this way.”)

  • Responsibility Trap: “fix” and nurturing component; emotional responsibility.

  • Mind-reading Trap: expecting someone to automatically “know” your feelings.

  • Truth Trap: effectively communicate; disagreements are natural not ”wrong”.

  • Victim Trap: blaming others; remaining stuck in past betrayals/mistakes.

Remember you are wanting a healthy relationship that is good for you, that nurtures you, your growth, your life. I believe there are so many other consequences when we settle. Truly, settling should not be an option, practice emotional intelligence. I encourage you to trust your journey, honor your pathway. Learn to love with intention for every aspect of your life for health, love, and good energy. You are loveable.

In health and love,


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