So your relationship is a bubbling mess and you’ve tried everything you can think of, everything everyone else has suggested, all the traditional routes… maybe it’s time you tried changing your mindset.
Chances are if you’ve been anywhere within spitting distance of social media and the Internet over the past few years, you’ve heard a lot about concepts like mind power and mind over matter and your head creates your world… so how do you put it into action with something practical like improving your relationship?
It’s simple really… you make a few key decisions and stick to them no matter what.
Well it sounds simple enough, yet as humans we tend to over-complicate things… especially simple things like making a decision and sticking to it. We build up defenses in our minds, thoughts and belief systems that stop us from being able to adopt a new reality, e.g. it takes a long time to change a way of thinking or it’s something I could never manage on my own.
The truth is that we’ve all had points in our lives where we’ve made a decision that became reality for us instantly… we know how to change instantly, often we’re just afraid of the hard work that may follow a decision to change our mindset and adopt a new way of being.
A strategic move
Like all good and most really successful strategies, this is simple, easy to remember and actually pretty easy to implement… and like all deceptively simple strategies, it can be a bugger to actually do.
The trick really is to remember your decisions in the moments that matter… if you’re crazy enough, or faced with the same situations on a regular or daily basis, you could try writing reminders on your arm for instance, or if you think you’ll remember then carry a flashcard with you.
Best laid plans
What your strategy steps look like will depend on your unique situation.
For example, if there’s been an issue around cheating, the cheating partner may promise to check in with their spouse at regular intervals and volunteer information about their whereabouts, while the other partner may agree to stop using it as an issue in arguments.
There is a basic strategy that applies to most relationship situations and yes, follow these simple decisions and make them a base belief system from which you make your future daily relationship decisions can really turn your relationship around in 24 hours…
A no-exit policy
“I will not exit this relationship under any circumstances over the next six months.”
Maybe it’s six months, maybe a year, maybe only three months… the deadline is up to you and your partner.
Whatever the deadline, what is important is that this commitment means that you will not leave the relationship in any way or under any circumstances during that time period. This effectively means:
You will not break up or proffer breaking up as an option during this time
You will not commit suicide
You will not cheat or pursue any external relationships with other people, even if it’s talking to or flirting with an old friend on Facebook… if you’re in a monogamous relationship of course
You will not check out by means of an addiction, whether alcohol, gambling, porn or drugs. You will be present in the relationship the entire time period
You will not over commit yourself to work or other activities. You will make time to be with your partner or include them in the activities that take up your time
You will not “zone out” when home by watching endless hours of TV or spending all your time on your tablet or PC
You will not allow excuses and commitments to get in your way and WILL in fact make a concerted effort to spend time with your partner
“Whatever it takes, whatever I need to do and whatever I can think of, to do.”
This is not just about not leaving, this is about being committed and focused on your goal and end goal, and doing whatever it takes to make your dream a reality.
Whatever it takes & whatever I need to do
This will take you far outside your comfort zone, which is exactly what it’s intended to do!
If it’s important to my partner to talk about all this, I will make time to do that
If sex is important to my partner, I will make an effort to be sexual and initiate sex
I will make time to make my partner feel special and sexy
I will include my partner in my activities
I will ask the difficult questions instead of assuming the answers, even when it scares me
I will answer the questions posed to me with honesty and openness, even when I fear my partner won’t like the answers
I will make time to be with my partner
I will make an effort to connect with my partner
I will make a conscious effort to change my mindset around my partner and think positive things about them
Whatever I can think of to do
You cannot expect to do the same things over and over and over again and get a different set of results.
Often if we want to change the outcome we have to change the way we think about something and how we approach it. There are luckily a million ways to skin a cat and below are some suggestions:
I will find ways to increase my knowledge about relationships and sexuality by reading something new on a daily basis and applying the techniques I’ve learnt to my relationship
I will talk to trusted people around me and get insights into myself, my partner and even relationship tips and advice
I will go outside my comfort zone by doing something my partner has specifically asked
I will be open about what I want and need
I will make an effort to keep my voice tone calm and modulated
I will find a new way to approach conversations, confrontations and arguments with my partner
I will seek the help I need if we cannot make headway or we need an external party to help us
I will tackle the personal and individual issues that stop me from being fully committed to my relationship
Be focused & determined
“There are no obstacles. Nothing will stand in my way.”
What’s key here is that you don’t let anything distract you from your end goal. Nothing.
Whether it’s kids, work commitments, tiredness, extra mural activities or even a death in the family… if you’ve committed to spending ten minutes together every day discussing your relationship and checking in with each other, then that will happen NO MATTER WHAT!
If you’re apart it will happen with a call or via Skype. If you’re at someone else’s home you will find a quiet spot to be together. If you have work or family commitments you’ll make time to call each other.
Whatever decisions you make about how you tackle your relationship, stick to them no matter what distracts you.
Most coaching clients stumble because of a lack of focused commitment and the excuse most often heard for people failing to meet their action steps and commitments is that they were busy or had xyz to do.
Allowing something to steer you off your path is nothing more than self-sabotage.
If you find you’re making excuses, more often than not then you need to ask yourself if you want the change or if you want out of the relationship.
Require it of your partner and yourself
“This is non-negotiable. There are no excuses.”
If you’re the more disciplined partner then find your partner when it comes to the time you are supposed to spend together. Initiate the call if your partner is late in calling for your regular chat. No excuses!
If one of you fails to meet a requirement it is the job of the other to find out why. Not later or two weeks from now – today! If your partner is meant to send 10 text messages a day or check in at regular times and they only send six or miss two rounds of calls, then ask why.
Once you’ve slipped once or twice it becomes easier and easier to do it over and over again.
Hold yourself and your partner accountable for what you say you’ll do and what you promise to do. Stick to your guns at all times. Excuses and distractions are simply tools for self-sabotage that make it easy for you to give up and slip back into your old habits.
“Tomorrow is another day.”
As with anything, whether it’s a diet and exercise programme or job hunt, you’re going to have good days and bad days. You may find you have a lot of bad days at first… don’t let these get you down.
A bad day or a bad experience or a step or two back is not a disaster – and it’s not your whole life!
So you missed your lunchtime phone call… phone as soon as you remember and apologise for being late with the call.
So you screamed when you promised not to be confrontational… stop doing it the moment you realise what’s happening, even if it’s mid-sentence. And then apologise and do better.
So your husband got drunk once after he promised he wouldn’t drink anymore… discuss it, let him apologise and then let it go and move on.
One slip up, mistake or step backward does not mean that your entire programme has failed, it simply means that you’re human and you’ve made a mistake.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back into the saddle. Tomorrow is another day!
Show some appreciation
“I’m grateful to have you in my life.”
There isn’t a tool or technique that generates positive and happy emotions inside you or your relationship faster than gratitude exercises.
An attitude of gratitude helps you feel better, more positive and will help you shift your focus from the negative to the positive – quickly and easily.
A gratitude journal
If your partner isn’t game to participate in gratitude exercises or you’re single, spending ten to twenty minutes a day just listing the things you are grateful for in your life can help you feel better about you and develop a healthier mindset.
Yes it feels fake and mechanical in the beginning, but you will start seeing and feeling results in yourself after a few days, including a generally more positive attitude and mindset towards life.
Start with the basics… you’ll find that it will flow more easily once you’ve done it for a few days.
I am grateful to have a job
I am grateful to have a partner
I am grateful to have a working body
I am grateful to be healthy
I am grateful to have bills, because they mean I have money with which to pay them
The Imago gratitude exercise for couples
If your partner is will to do this stuff with you, well then you’re in luck! Take five to ten minutes to sit down with your partner every night, look them in the eyes and thank them for three things:
Thank you for taking the garbage out today
Thank you for bathing the kids so that I could rest
Thank you for loving me
It doesn’t matter if you repeat stuff daily or if your things seem vague or small, what matters is that you spend time connecting with and thanking your partner – even if it seems mechanical at first.
Your partner can simply respond with it’s a pleasure or something similar.
Powerful and life changing exercises don’t have to be long-winded, difficult and complicated to do, just as changing your mindset can happen easily too.