You find yourself repeating unhealthy relationship patterns in life (and in relationships)—like trust issues, communication issues, or assertiveness issues—and say you want to fix them, but you just can’t seem to make the changes. And that feels really frustrating.
You want to change; maybe you just don’t know how.
You mindfully monitor your reactions and responses, and your thoughts around circumstances; yet, you’re still stuck in the same old unhealthy patterns that are NOT making your relationship better.
The real question is: How do you take the information and insights you’ve gained and turn them into wise actions that you demonstrate consistently? You’re smart enough to realize that successfully doing this makes all the difference in creating the life you desire.
But there is a BIG difference between talking about something and doing it.
The first and most important thing to consider is your true level of willingness to change—the really deep down level of willingness, not the “oh, but of course” easy affirmative answer.
Words are not what we live by (or build confidence with); actions are. What you do tells the truth about who you are.
Ouch. That’s a hard truth for some people to face. So we shield ourselves from that by telling ourselves noble stories about our good intentions. But, do you want to tell yourself a good story, or live one?
Here are some steps to help you begin the journey of truly changing the way you show up in relationships—with yourself, your partner, your family, your colleagues and the world. A tall order in a short space, but here’s what I suggest as a starting place:
1. Treat yourself kindly.
Are you your own best friend? Do you do for yourself what you 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 think you “should” be? Take stock of ways you currently DO NOT treat yourself kindly. Then, write a list of their opposites and start applying them to your life.
2. Judge less; communicate more.
It’s likely that you’re 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 overly harsh generalizations. Talk to yourself the way you talk with others. That’s a good start.
3. Walk your talk.
If something is truly important to you, you must demonstrate its importance in daily life through your actions. Do you value kindness? Is healthy living something you value? Do you oppose racism?
repeatedly observe a strange phenomenon in which people name something aloud they claim to want to change and that “naming it” gives them permission to not actually follow through on changing. Here’s an example: “Oh, I’m really judgmental, aren’t I?” The person believes that showing their awareness of the issue excuses not stopping it. The very next words out of their mouth are, “Sometimes I just can’t help it, especially when I see someone dressed like that.” This is just giving lip service to justify their behavior. This is WAY too common!
All the big ideals in the world mean nothing if you don’t walk your talk.
4, Check yourself. Frequently.
The only way to make honest changes in your attitudes, relationships, and actions is to monitor yourself regularly. Begin the day reflecting on how you want to show up that day—what will living aligned with your values, vision, beliefs and purpose look like specifcally? Mentally rehearse being that person and anticipate how doing so feels. At the end of the day, reflect, and note your progress and areas you want to keep improving. Mentally rehearse that, also.
Remember, we all the information in the world doesn’t turn into actual knowledge until it makes its way through us, and shows up in our changed behaviors. But we did not become who we are overnight. We’ll still be the person tomorrow if we don’t become self-reflective each day and let it impact our day-to-day behavior.