It is easy to fall into the trap of making relationship conflicts about the other person. What they said or didn’t say. What they did or didn’t do. What they meant or didn’t mean. But to be proactive about moving from conflict to connection, you need to focus on cleaning up your side of the fence.
For the best relationships, look to sort whatever is happening within you, instead of trying to fix, change or improve other people so that they are more loveable. It is not anyone else’s job to make you happy or feel loved, it is yours. How you feel is down to your relationship with the particular relationship, which is a perfect reflection of your relationship with yourself.
Lots of ‘relationships’ mentioned then, but the only relationship that I would recommend focusing on healing is the one with your self. Whatever you are feeling in relation to someone else is caused by what’s happening inside you, so that’s where to look to resolve any issue that may be standing between you and more kind, connected and loving relationships.
Here are the top 12 habits that hinder loving relationships. If you find you are doing any of them, try using the Calm Cure technique (shared in my Calm Cure book), to help to heal them once and for all:
HABIT 1 - EXPECTING: Expectations are often not openly expressed and the other person is left oblivious. Nonetheless, you then make it their fault for failing to meet your expectations. Conflict occurs when your expectations aren’t met. Ask: What expectations do I have that are not being met and how does it make me feel when I don’t get what I expect?
HABIT 2 - COMPARING: You compare your relationship with past partners, other friends or family members, your ideas about how loved ones should be, or couples who appear to be more in love or happier. Conflict arises when some other relationship appears to be better. Ask: What comparisons am I making and how does it make me feel when other relationships appear to be better?
HABIT 3 - ASSUMING: Assuming other people see the world the same as you and should therefore act the same way too. You also assume that they know what you want or that you know what they want. Conflict kicks in when assumptions are not accurate and/or not met, e.g. ‘I thought you’d buy me a bottle of water, if you were buying one for yourself.’ Ask: How does it feel when my assumptions are not met?
HABIT 4 - MIND-READING: Attempting accurately to predict what someone else is thinking, why they did what they did, what their actions mean, e.g. ‘The kids prefer Dad because they went to the shops with him instead of staying home with me.’ or 'He didn't text me last night so he doesn't care'. Ask: What mind read am I making and how does it make me feel when I do?
HABIT 5 - TAKING: Engaging relationships with a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude. If you are taking, you end up in conflict due to inevitably being let down at some point. It’s also a performance-based relationship, which is not love-based. Ask: What do I believe is lacking within me that I need to take from others, and how does it make me feel to lack it?
HABIT 6 - COUNTING: Linked with taking, this is when you do nice things but keep a tally, e.g. ‘I did x for you and you’ve not...’ Conflict occurs if you don’t get back in equal measure to ‘your giving’. You’re not giving if you are doing so to get something back. Ask: How does it feel not to get back in equal measure?
HABIT 7 - PERFECTING: Trying to achieve your idea of ‘the perfect relationship’. Snoring and difficult days aren’t permitted, for example. Conflict occurs when life doesn’t fit your ideas of perfect. Ask: What do I think is imperfect about the relationship and how does it make me feel not to have a perfect relationship?
HABIT 8 - TRAP-SETTING: When you test the other person’s love by setting traps for them to fall into. Like not telling them that you’ve had your hair done or pointing out a new outfit or saying how your day went – to see if they ask or make a comment. It is trap-setting if you intentionally hold back to see if they notice. Ask: What is going on within me that makes me feel the need to set traps?
HABIT 9 - ANALYSING: When you excessively analyse everything that’s said or done. The relationship becomes very ‘heady’ with lots of thinking and little heart connection, to the point you are thinking about the relationship more than you are relating. Ask: What am I overanalysing and what feelings are driving my need to do so?
HABIT 10 - SAVING: When the relationship is based upon saving the other person or you are focused on fixing them. These types of dysfunctional dynamics are based upon the other person’s brokenness and your efforts to rescue them. Ask: How do I feel when I see someone that I think needs saving?
HABIT 11 - NOT PRIORITIZING: Not giving time and making other things more important than love. You keep working when the other person wants a hug or take the relationship for granted and don’t invest time or effort in nurturing it. Ask: What am I making more important than love and why?
HABIT 12 - NOT COMMITTING: Being half-in the relationship. Love ends up limited because your lack of commitment creates doubt, constant questioning if it’s right, testing of the relationship, holding back until you’re sure etc. Ask: How does it make me feel when I consider fully committing to this relationship?
(I actually share 20+ habits - and how to heal them - in my book Calm Cure. CLICK HERE for details.)
ABOUT SANDY C. NEWBIGGING
Sandy is a modern-day monk, creator of Calmology and multi-bestselling author. His books include Mind Calm, Body Calm and the new Calm Cure: The Unexpected Way to Improve Your Health, Your Life and Your World.
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