How to move on from dysfunctional relationships
This article is part three of a series of three. Here are PART 1 and PART 2 (please read/watch these first)
In order to create lasting change in your relationship patterns so you can find the love you crave and create the relationship you deserve, you must TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the way you act and feel. What does that mean?
It is easy to blame others, society or even yourself for the way things are but what good does that do? Does that attitude help get you where you want to be? Chances are it doesn't.
You are fully responsible for the way you respond to situations. Responsibility means to have the ability to choose your response to what happens rather than behaving automatically without thinking things through based on the conditioning you have received throughout your life. When you focus on yourself and your behaviours with gentle compassion you give yourself a chance to choose your reaction to challenging feelings or situations. In this way, you can work on things you can control without beating yourself up for what you previously did with less awareness. This is how you can get back in the driving seat.
QUESTION: In what ways are you not taking responsibility for your love life?
Even in the most difficult situation, you are half of the picture. What are you doing to allow things to go the way they have always gone ? What part are you playing in the game? If you want to change a situation you need to know what you can do differently rather than hoping others will magically change and make everything better without you doing anything at all.
Are you trying to change your partner?
EXERCISE: Make a mental picture of the person you’re dating exactly as they function today — warts and all — If they never changed, would you still want to be with them in five years?
Answer honestly. You need to stare reality in the face as uncomfortable as it may be.
If you have answered NO you need to ask yourself another question: is what you want to change in your partner a personality trait or is it a behaviour?
Character traits (such as shyness for example) are almost impossible to change. If you cannot accept a particular trait in your partner you need to either leave them or accept that you are condemning yourself to a life of misery with them.
If on the other hand, it is a behaviour that you want changing, there might be a chance your partner may change but that depends entirely on how much they want to change and how committed they are to making an effort in the right direction.
Basically, people cannot change their traits and can only change their behaviours if they really want to. And if you are spending your time trying to change someone who doesn't want to because YOU cannot live with it, you are either falling into the category of "fixer" or you are ignoring the fact that you need to leave the relationship because it has become toxic.
How to break negative relationship habits
Now, I normally don't like maths but when it comes down to change here's my winning formula :
(Insight + Behavior Change ) x Repetition = Identity Change = Different Outcome
Also: Intention (to change) + Attention (to old patterns of behaviour) = a capacity to catch yourself when you are about to repeat old behaviours which leads to - Choice to do something different.
Here's a breakdown:
- First you invest your time and energy in answering questions that increase your awareness around your patterns so you uncover your automatic ways of responding in relationships and become aware of the motivations behind them.
- Following that, you catch yourself when you’re triggered to fall back into old behaviours and you consciously decide to do something different instead.
- You shift your view of yourself as someone capable of a good, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship and decide you will not accept anything less than that.
- You keep building new positive patterns paying attention to strengthening your new identity so you can prevent and manage trigger situations that would have you go back to old ways.
Start the process of change now
To start this process I would ask you to get a pen and paper and write or respond to these questions speaking out loud. It's not enough to just think about them. Thoughts have a way to get lost and keep meandering in our minds unless we pin them down either in writing or through spoken word.
First of all, you need to target the behaviours that hold you back and learn to replace them with new ones:
- What attempts have you already made to change your repeating behaviours?
- Think about your last relationship and ask yourself, what were the earliest warning signs you saw that could have tipped you off to potential problems?
- How did you respond to those warning signs? How would you have wanted to respond? How will you respond in future?
In order to change you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You need to be willing to be uncomfortable for a while and 'embrace the suck'. Can you bring an attitude of curiosity to the investigation of what you are finding so challenging? You need to make a commitment to stop avoiding difficult stuff and just face it.
- Are you really willing to change?
- Which of the 'types' do you relate the most to?
- What behaviours would be hardest for you to change when it comes to responding to the old type of man/woman you are attracted to?
- What feelings will be the most difficult for you to sit with as you start to change your own behaviours?
Finally, you need to have a good idea of where you are going and why. If you just keep on thinking about what you don't want that's what you'll keep on getting.
- How would you describe the reward you're going to get as a result of engaging in this process of change? In other words: why change ? what are you going to get out of it?
- What's standing in the way? What are you afraid of?
- What new behaviour do you need to implement to reap the reward of a great relationship?
- What do you attitude/ belief/behaviour do you need to leave behind?
- From where you are right now what do you think your identity tells you to expect from your romantic relationships? What are your expectations now and how are they keeping you where you are?
Once you do the work you are on your way to better relationships. Remember that this is a process that requires constant practice and commitment. Like getting physically fit requires you to exercise every day at the gym you need to keep going to achieve and maintain your goals. There are no quick fixes in life but the reward is worth it! Focus on that and you will reap the fruits of your hard labor so you can find the love you deserve.
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