You know you have some unhealthy relationship patterns that you want to fix in yourself, like trust issues, communication issues, or assertiveness issues.
Yet you can't seem to make the changes. It's really frustrating!
You WANT to be different. Maybe you just don't know HOW.
You try to stay conscientious and conscious of your reactions & responses, your thoughts around circumstances, and yet, you're still stuck in the same old patterns that are unhealthy and NOT making your relationship better.
The real question is: how do you take the information and insights you have about yourself and about life and turn them into knowledge and wisdom that you demonstrate?
It's such an important insight and question to consider when you want to create the life you most want.
There is a big difference between talking about something and doing it. There's a big difference between information and knowledge. We can have all the information in the world but it doesn't turn into knowledge until it makes its way through us, and shows up in our changed behaviors.
The first and most important thing to consider is your true level of willingness, the really deep down level of willingness, not the "oh, but of course" affirmative answer. Why that's important is that you can often quiet down the "you should be better" tape by skipping over it with words.
Words are not what we need to believe. Actions are. What you are doing tells the truth about you. It's not what you say.
Ouch, eh? We tell ourselves such good stories about our good intentions! It's good to know the good story. It's another thing to live the good story.
So, here are some steps to taking the journey to who you most want to be in relationship to yourself, your partner, your family, your colleagues and the world. Tall order in a short space but here's what I suggest as a starting place:
- Treat yourself kindly.
Are you your own best friend? Do you do for yourself what you would do for others? Do you rest when you're tired? Do you eat well? Or, do you beat yourself up because you're not where you want to be? Fill in the blanks about ways in which you currently maybe do not treat yourself kindly. Then, write a list of their opposites and apply them to your life.
- Stop the judgments and communicate kindly with yourself.
It's likely that you are very harsh in your judgments of yourself. Stop! Just describe the actual facts, behavior you want to change, or attitude that needs shifting WITHOUT the "slob" words and harsh parental generalizations. Talk to yourself the way you talk with others. That's a good start.
- Know what you value.
If something is important to you, you must demonstrate its importance in daily life by your actions. All the talk in the world is nothing if you don't start making small steps towards the change you want to be and see.
- Know what you believe.
Knowing what you believe and saying what you believe are different, as I mentioned above. What does your belief look like in action, in your relationships with yourself and others?
- Remember, you are in charge of your mind and your mouth.
All the gnashing of teeth about how we know better is a waste of time and air space. As Maya Angelou says, "If you know better, you do better." From that I think we can extrapolate that we beat ourselves up with the language of "knowing better."
There is a strange phenomenon that I observe, and you can look in the mirror and see if you see it, too: a person says they know how they want to be and, because they can give it a voice (a great first step), they let the words give them permission not to change. Here's an example: "Oh, I'm really judgmental, aren't I?" Now the person thinks that by giving their behavior a name, they have shown their awareness. If the next words out of their mouth are "Sometimes I just can't help it, especially when I see someone dressed like that" you know that the person is just giving lip service to justify their behavior. This is WAY TOO COMMON!!!
- Check in with yourself frequently.
The only way to make honest changes in your attitudes, relationships and actions is to monitor yourself frequently. Begin the day with some reflection on who you want to be today, who you honestly want to be living in alignment with your values, vision, beliefs and purpose. Mentally rehearse being that person and feel how that is. At the end of the day, reflect on your day and note your progress and places you would like to improve. Mentally rehearse that.
Remember, we did not become who we are overnight. But, we'll still be that person tomorrow if we don't become self-reflective each day, and let it impact becoming who we most want to be.
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, works with committed couples who know they love each other and want their once-great relationships back, stronger, closer and more intimate. She helps them with the insights and skills they need to create healthy relationships that support them to walk together united, through whatever life brings. Read KAIZEN FOR COUPLES: Smart Steps To Save, Sustain & Strengthen Your Relationship now.
Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.