When we hear the word “relationship,” we’re inclined to think of the romantic connection between two people. Before exploring that fascinating, timeless dynamic of human experience, let’s open up the definition of the word “relationship” to a wider and very important way of thinking.

Relationships with other people are just one piece of the puzzle. If we come to see that ALL of the relationships in our lives—to family, friends, our community, the world, our emotions, our belief systems, food, addictions, emotions, and even the family pet—are barometers of how we coexist in an intimate relationship, we will expand our minds and have a better understanding of what connection means. You can’t separate the elements of your life into compartments, hoping that it will all fall together in some haphazard order. The way you move through your entire life creates a whole and complete picture. If you approach all of your relationships with a sense of who you genuinely are with a positive outlook, you’ll see how you can thrive in deeply satisfying, truly loving relationships.

It All Begins with You

Though most people feel the longing to find a soul mate, it often feels perplexing, out of reach, or seemingly futile to connect with “The One.” Does it feel as if you’re repeating a pattern in your relationships that just takes you back to where you started?

If you keep searching for love and fulfillment without an understanding about why they keep eluding you, you’ll be caught in a cycle of defeat.

So ask yourself a few questions and be as honest with yourself as you can.

1. What, if anything, is keeping you from a truly satisfying partnership?

2. Are the other relationships in your life balanced and healthy?

3. How do your interactions with everything in your life—people, places, and things—reflect in your quest for a soul mate?

4. Are your expectations misguided?

5. What would happen if you let all expectations go?

6. Do you project your desires onto others?

7. Are you in love with the idea of love but not the person in front of you?

The answer to finding a wonderful, loving connection with someone else is having that union with yourself in all the relationships in your life. The greatest relationship you have, from the beginning of your life until the end, should be with YOU.

When you embrace who you are, love will find you. Your mind is very powerful. If you get to a stage in your personal development where there is true self-acceptance, compassion, and understanding, your mind will create the prince or the princess outside of you as well. It can also—depending on how you see yourself and the world around you—create the frog or the troll! Your mind conjures the kind of life you have. It is that powerful. We are all creating our own reality. How would you like yours to play out? Clear away the negative thinking and embrace who you are.

Once you have an authentic and confident view of yourself and understand what is keeping you back, your relationships with everything will change. You’ll have the kind of fulfilling relationships that each and every one of us deserves.

Derek O’Neill is an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist, motivational speaker, author, martial arts sensei, and humanitarian. He is the author of More Truth Will Set You Free, the “Get a Grip” series of pocket-sized books, several children’s books, and an upcoming book on parenting (Fall 2013 release). Inspired by his worldly travels, he formed SQ Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on helping solve global issues facing humanity today. With charitable projects in twelve countries, the Foundation brings food, medicine, education, shelter, and other basic needs to children, families, and communities in need. In 2012, he was honored as Humanitarian of the Year and named International Celebrity Ambassador for Variety International the Children’s Charity.

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