The Most Common Mistake
Is there a relationship in your life that you wish were better? If you're part of the human race, chances are good that your answer is yes. As a life coach and counselor, relationship issues are among the top reasons people come to see me. And the most common mistake that I see when people seek improvement in a relationship is that they get stuck in the notion that the other person needs to change.
Utter miracles are possible in relationships. Over and again I've seen relationships resuscitated from near death. Certainly, sometimes the only way you can experience improvement is to release the relationship all together to allow a more fulfilling one into your life. Yet, there is a lot you can do to activate transformation. Your power, however, lies in exploring how you might need to change versus the other person.
Where Your Attention Goes, the Energy Flows
The Law of Attraction teaches us: where your attention goes, the energy flows. Metaphysics and quantum physics tell us that the consciousness of the observer directly influences the observed. In other words if you look for the positive, you'll find the positive. If you look for the negative, you'll find the negative.
Oh... but bemoaning our fate, gossiping and making the other person wrong is so juicy, isn't it? Let's face it. There's great benefit to complaining and criticizing another. We get to be right. Our egos just love that! We get to be comfortable because we don't need to challenge ourselves or change. And we get to shirk responsibility. Who wants another thing to be responsible for?!
But alas, despite all the goodies that come with pointing the finger, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself, "How's this working for me?" Yes, you may be right. Every last thing on your laundry list of resentments may indeed be accurate and even justified. But at some point you have to decide whether you'd rather have a relationship with a human being or your resentments. Resentments are like poison. They will eat you alive. If, however, you're willing to take responsibility for your unhappy relationships you'll find that it is not only possible to release the resentments, but you will discover a new level of fulfillment in your relationship with yourself and others.
Recognize and Redirect
Where does one begin on this journey of relationship transformation? You must first make a commitment to clean up your end of the negative dynamic. This means that you must take responsibility for your attitude and thoughts. The only way that change is truly possible is to embrace this as a discipline.
According to the Law of Attraction, like attracts like. This means that what we experience in our external world is a direct reflection of our internal consciousness. When we choose different thoughts, emotions and actions, our relationships will reflect the new consciousness. I call this mental practice Recognize and Redirect. Here's how it works:
Each time you notice that your attention is on what you do not want with a person, pause, recognize that you are defaulting to the negative, and redirect your thoughts toward anything even the slightest bit positive. This practice is quite simple and the results can be dramatic. If you do this for 40 days with commitment, you will experience change. Although you can not control what the change will look like, it will be positive. Either you will begin to experience the other person in a better light, or you will gain insights that will guide you to a more productive relationship experience.
Now then, you may say, How am I supposed to find something positive about this person? He is impossible! She'll never change! First of all, if you want to find something positive you will. You must be willing to let go of your righteous position. Secondly, it is important to note that you don't have to find something positive about the person, you need only redirect your consciousness to anything positive. Here are a few ways to do this:
-Practice Your Willingness Mantra - Willingness is nothing less than the magic wand of metaphysics. The great thing about willingness is that you don't have to know how to change something. You only need to know that you want it to be different. Let's say you regularly feel contempt for a co-worker. Next time you recognize this, say to yourself, I am willing to feel good around Joe no matter what. If in mid-conversation you recognize that once again you are struggling with your teenager, pause, and say to yourself, I'm willing to experience ease and harmony. Next time you engage in that familiar head-butting dance with your father, pause and say to yourself, I'm willing to have a break-through! Don't worry about coming up with just the right words, because it is your intention, not the words, that magnetizes a new experience. The universe knows just what to do.
- Look for the Best in the Person - Take some time when you are alone to make a list of positive characteristics about the other person. Sometimes it helps to remove yourself from the equation. Look at how that person operates in the world outside of your relationship, how other people see him, what good she does do and how she does contribute. Try giving this person the benefit of the doubt. What positive reason might motivate this person's actions and choices? Once you've got your list, it will be easier to redirect your consciousness when you really need to.
-Examine Your Expectations - Expectations can be an insidious and damaging culprit in relationships. We all have them. We expect the other person to do all sorts of things for us. Have you been expecting your boyfriend to read your mind, your mother to express love to you in a certain way, your husband to help more with the kids, your co-worker to trust you rather than compete with you? Once you are more aware of your expectations, consider letting all of them go -- even if only for forty days. Consider the possibility that the other person is not responsible for any of those expectations -that instead it is your responsibility to meet your own needs. Without the burden of expectation, it is much easier to redirect your consciousness to the positive.
Being self-responsible is fundamental to successful relationships. It may not be easy, but it is productive. Although there is much over which we have no power, we do have power over our perspective. There is nothing more powerful than taking charge of how you relate to things, whether it be your car breaking down, your significant other, or socio-political events of the world. The fact is, as Wayne Dyer puts it, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
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