As a relationship therapist I see couples time and again constantly pointing their fingers at their significant other. They spend all their precious time and energy trying to change what the other person is doing. Both men and women believe that if the other person would just be kinder, talk more, be less angry, take responsibility, do more, stop complaining or controlling or [fill in the blank] then all would be fine. So they then attempt to get their partner to make those changes. Read on to learn more…
Yep as you guessed not much changes. This approach doesn’t often bear fruit; instead it withers away at the relationship decaying both sides and keeps it stuck in hurtful and unhappy patterns.
Good luck trying to change another person, it seldom works. The fact is it can’t, as no one has the power to change another person. We can ask, beg, plead, cajole, bully or get angry to try to force them to do what we want them to do, yet when said and done THEY get to decide their actions. They decide what and how they will do something. There is no amount of pleading and raging that will change the simple fact that THEY choose their behaviour.
It goes for you also no one can make you change either. Only you get to exercise your power to change yourself. Only YOU decide what you will or won’t do. This means even if your partner is bullying you, screaming and in your face threatening you you get to decide. YOU decide whether you give in, appease, stand your ground, stay, go and everything else in between. YOU Decide.
Sorry it is a frustrating idea to take in, I know. But it also offers you a certain freedom. Knowing you are no longer responsible for changing your partner, you can give up the battle and win the war. YOU are responsible for you and if you turn the lens back on yourself and shift the focus back to you relationships can and will necessarily change in response to your actions with no little effort.
Forget trying to figure out what sets someone off if you are in a verbally abusive relationship. Stop walking on eggshells around the raging person, besides it doesn’t really work, they eventually rage again. Do a 180-degree turn.
This means turn it upside down rather than hoping not to set the anger off, stop cowering to the anger. You certainly can’t control the anger, that’s their responsibility, however you can control yourself and your behaviour. Stand up to the anger, set a limit, end the conversation, put the relationship on the line, seek counselling, call the police if there is violence or leave the situation. Know that you can’t stop the anger; only the angry person has that job.
If you find yourself in your life when you are struggling with relationship issues be it with your boss, friend, lover or child stop yourself and listen. What is it you hear? Do you hear yourself blaming your behaviour on the other person? Do you make excuses for your actions countering with “it’s because of so and so?”
If this is your pattern you are hurting yourself by not taking responsibility. Take control of your life by taking control of YOU! There are more effective options than trying to control someone over whom you have no control.
Take a look at yourself. Know that as you change the step the dance changes. Get your focus off the other person and their part and learn to be more effective in your personal relationships. Remember the secret you have the power to change you so get moving!
Change involves a conscious effort on your part so if your relationships are experiencing turmoil and you hear yourself blaming the other person for you troubles, STOP! Look at your actions instead. Get clear on what you are doing that is not helpful and change that. As Mahatma Ghandi eloquently stated “You must become the change you want to see.”