Taylor Swift has made a name for herself writing songs about her relationships and breakups.  It’s so expected that, as soon as her latest relationship fails, everyone jokes about what the new song is going to be.  While that can certainly be entertaining, people are now wondering if Taylor should onsider the possibility that she is the reason things never work out.

Could the same be said about your life?

It’s natural – we all want to point the finger at someone else when things aren’t going the way we would like.  There is the rare instance where things really are one-sided – but, usually, both parties play a role in creating and solving problems.  During our most frustrated moments, how often do we think “what could I be doing better?”  It’s far more common for us to pick apart someone else’s behavior than our own.

There is one absolute truth – we cannot change others. We can only change ourselves.

One really good reason for focusing on our personal behavior is that we set the standards for how we let people treat us.  Also, when we modify our behavior, we change how we interact with others.  Finally, when we take ownership of our actions, we empower ourselves.  Here are some tips for being proactive about your own happiness:

Be Prepared to Say Sorry

Admitting flaws or mistakes is not a sign of weakness, in fact it’s the opposite.  It takes strength and an inner security to own up to hurting someone else.  If you struggle with apologizing, find comfort in knowing that it does get easier.  Even if you just say “I’m sorry for my role in this argument,” you are validating your partner’s feelings and putting the two of you on an equal playing field.

Try Counseling

We may not want to accept it, but the way we were raised often has a major impact on our ability to communicate and resolve conflict.  Bad patterns can be very difficult to break without support, and counseling may be a great option for working through how childhood family conflicts may be affecting your current relationship.  Of course, other issues can also be addressed with the help of a therapist – including anxiety and depression which can also have a negative impact on your life.

Do You Want to Be Right Or Do You Want to Be Happy?

When we’re in the heat of an argument, it’s not uncommon to just want to “win.”  We might even lose sight of what we’re even arguing about – we simply want to be right and we want the other person to concede defeat.  In these moments, especially when the issue is minor, ask yourself: do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

Explore Yourself

Could your outlook on life be negatively skewed by the lack of interests?  Try new hobbies, meet new people, meditate or get in shape.  The sky’s the limit.  When you find ways of making yourself content, your happiness won’t depend on the actions of your partner.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

There are entire books written about this and you’ve probably heard this a million times but it bears repeating – don’t sweat the small stuff.  Before you start nagging, ask yourself if this issue is really worth bringing up.  If not, then drop it.  If you still feel like bringing up, take a few moments to think about how you are going to get your point across in the most productive way.