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Oftentimes, we take for granted those who mean the most to us: our significant others, our best friends, even (and especially) our beloved family members. This is natural, and we’re all guilty of doing it, but that’s not to say that we can’t put a little extra effort into showing our loved ones just how much we care for them. Here are 5 rules of thumb that will help you do just that:

    1) Take action.

    “Couples often focus on feelings and as a therapist, I deeply acknowledge how important it is to express how you feel to your partner. However, more importantly is how one acts towards a loved one that matters,” Silvia Dutchevici, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Founder of the Critical Therapy Center, explains. “Feelings can never be wrong and they need to be explored psychologically, but actions have consequences of great importance in relation to another.”

    2) Be fully present.

    It is also important to be fully present with our loved ones, as explained by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Connie Habash: “We feel deeply loved when someone else is present with us. It reflects that we’re cherished and valued. Presence is giving fully of ourselves to the moment, whatever it offers. When we’re present with someone, we are attentive, aware, and interested in them. We might make eye contact, turn towards them, or touch them to let them know we’re here with them and for them. So, whether it is your partner, a family member, a friend, or your child, to be truly loving, set aside your device for a bit and trust that the to-do list will get done later. Let your love for those you care about in your life be expressed through being fully present with them.”

    3) Honor your commitments.

    Another rule of thumb is to honor your commitments. This doesn’t just prove your love, but solidifies that love. “One of my favorite definitions of love is, the commitments we are willing to make and keep,” says Bianca Rodriguez, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. “We often think of love as a feeling but it’s also a verb signifying action. The commitments you are willing to make to yourself (as in self-love) and to others requires effort and sacrifice. That gooey lovey feeling we experience at the beginning of relationships during the infatuation phase fades as relationships mature. Continuing to invest in and nurture our love for our partner becomes very important if we want our relationship to thrive. We do this by making and honoring our commitments to them. This is where our love muscles really get tested. But like all things in life, the greater the effort the greater the reward.”

    4) Think beautiful thoughts.

    “A relationship is more than how we speak and behave with each other. It is how we think and feel for each other,” Nidhi Idnani, a holistic healer and meditation coach, explains. Therefore, it’s important we think beautiful thoughts, as she says, and in turn radiate love. “A relationship is an exchange of energy between two individuals. Every thought or feeling is energy. If one creates pure and positive thoughts/feelings, it will reach others because energy created is energy radiated. The law of reciprocity states that you will receive whatever energy you send out. So consciously working on your own thoughts/energy (and therefore radiating that pure and positive energy) is the first step of love. Beautiful thoughts create beautiful and loving people. If you want to be beautiful and receive love and appreciation and respect from all, then think beautiful thoughts.”

    5) Recognize love as the only truth.

    And finally, always remember the power and the importance of love. Ruth Fearnow, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, says she has learned that it’s the only truth. “A client who, after doing some EMDR processing in my office, looked up at me and asked, ‘Pain is just an illusion, isn’t it?’ I was surprised at his depth of insight, as most people haven’t considered this. Looking at psychological principles of CBT, REBT, narrative therapy, isn’t that exactly what they say? There are many books on philosophy or religion that say the same. If you change your thoughts, you change how you feel and change your life. This would mean that our story and related emotional constructs are not real. After healing, after peeling away the layers of negative beliefs, love grows within.” Fearnow goes on to conclude that love is the only truth and it is his duty to remind us of this.

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