Let’s talk relationships for a moment. How many of us have experienced frustration and tension in our personal relationships? Of course, the answer is, all of us.
This happens when we stop focusing on what we want, what we appreciate about the other person, and instead are noticing what is lacking, or what is not pleasing to us. We become entitled, wondering why they are no longer doing what it is we want or need, and if we don’t identify that we are indeed in this “mindset” or emotional space, then the downward spiral begins. We then notice more and more of what we don’t want, they then react to our negativity, and the rift between the two becomes wider and wider.
If you have been in this type of emotional pattern before, or perhaps are now, ask yourself, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?” and then ask yourself, "What is it that I am focusing on?"
I have to share a recent experience with you. 8 months ago I met the most incredible man. It wasn’t love at first site, yet there was enough in that first meeting to want me to get to know him more. Over the next few weeks, countless conversations & interesting dates, I realized he was the one that I want to spend my life with. We have common interests and values, we can talk on a variety of topics with ease, he is highly intelligent, both in IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence), and he is incredibly romantic. Things have been moving very quickly and we are in fact, now living together!
Fast forward to the past several weeks, and I have gotten to a point in this relationship that I have wanted to “cut bait and run”. You may be asking yourself, "What? How?" "How can you go from falling in love so much so that you moved in together, to now not wanting to be together at all?"
It's simple. I stopped noticing what he brought to the table. All the good and wonderful things I appreciate about him, and I began focusing on the one or two things that I was not getting - what I felt I “should be” getting, that if he “truly loved me", he would be doing. That frustration compounded as I began focusing on those qualities of his that are not so pleasing. I began letting 'the little things' become 'big things'. I became more rooted in my being right about what I deserved that my behavior became judgmental, short in my responses to him, nit-picky and stand offish. And soon, he couldn't do anything right.
Now, if anyone were looking at this objectively, one would notice why the other party wasn’t wanting to do what the first party was wanting. They weren’t feeling appreciated. They weren’t even feeling good being around that person!
A few days ago things had escalated to a point that I was deeply questioning whether or not staying with this man was worth it. That being alone would be far better.
I was willing to “run”. And be “right”.
I was so focused on all that was 'wrong' with him, that I had completely lost sight of all the wonderful qualities that caused me to fall in love with him. I also neglected to consider all the pressure that he is under and all the stressors he has in his life. Oh, and let's not forget we are talking about a man and a woman in this scenario, and we are indeed, built differently. I was so far down in the rabbit hole, in my 'extremes' (my not pleasing personality tendencies), that any type of perspective was gone. I wanted what I wanted and by God, if he wasn't going to give it to me, then I am outta here.
Thank God for good friends who can call you on your shit.
And thank God I have the tools to be able to identify these centered and extreme personality tendencies so it’s easier to recognize, navigate and course correct. That is, once I had the ability and willingness to see that I was indeed in my shit.
I decided to have an honest conversation with myself, and then with him. I got real about what I wanted in this relationship. I also got real about why I was showing up the way I was, and that I was ready to leave. I then admitted that I was in my shit and why I was. Yet the most important part of the conversation was that I decided to see him at his best. At his 'center'. I chose to see him as the wonderful, amazing, intelligent, loving, kind, sensitive man that he is. That is who is he and that is who I am choosing to see. And that is who I told him I saw. Yes, he is the other stuff too, we all are. We all have baggage that we carry around. Yet when we choose to see those we love in their center, at their best, we are honoring who they truly are, and they will respond in kind.
I also realized that if I 'cut bait and run', I am not doing anything differently than I have in the past. I was going to repeat old patterns, and I was determined not to do that again. I told him, "I love you. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to keep running. I need to learn how to be a better partner and how to stay and make a relationship work. I love you and I want us. I want a future with you.” And, the amazing man that he is, shared that he feels the same way. I am blessed to have a partner that sees the best in me and has the capacity to understand human behavior in a way that allows me, allows us, to ebb, flow and grow.
It’s amazing what can happen when you decide to own your shit and have an adult, open, respectful dialogue with your partner.
Of course, as we dialogued, the reason he wasn't 'giving me what I wanted' was because he felt a shift in my energy and behavior and felt I was about to leave him, and he was closing himself off to protect himself. So the more I got in my shit, the more he pulled back. And the downward spiral, the fight between both people's extreme personality tendencies, continues.
It has been an amazing exchange between us since we had our conversation. I feel as if we are falling in love all over again! The love is flowing so freely that I can’t even recall how yucky things were just a few short days ago.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I have kept an appreciation journal and written in it every single day of what I am thankful for in regards to him since I knew we were getting serious. Every. Single. Day.
Until about 2 months ago.
I forgot to write in it a few days, and then a few days more, and before I knew it, I wasn't writing in it at all. That’s when things started to go south. I stopped focusing on appreciation. So the things I didn’t appreciate so much (okay, the things that had the potential to drive me crazy) became more obvious. I then started to focus on those behaviors more and more. And appreciating less and less.
What I have learned through this experience is the importance of focusing on what I love and appreciate about this man that I love. That I've got to be intentional about it.
We must be intentional about this as it is not in our nature to look for the good. Our primal tendency is to look for contrast as that is how we protect ourselves. Yet, when we are in relationship, in order for it to grow and flourish, in order for us both to be fulfilled, we must focus on appreciation. We must be intentional about focusing on appreciation, otherwise it is too easy (as it is human nature to notice the contrast) to see what it is that we don’t like.
In fact, I challenge you right now to go make a list of at least 10 things you appreciate about your partner. See if you don’t notice a shift in your emotional energy.
If you really want to experience some massive shifts, do this every day and look at your partner with love and appreciation every day. See the good, amazing, capable, powerful, loving human that they are-as often as you can. When you treat them the way you see them, they will have no other choice but to reciprocate.
All the good we desire in life begins with us. It really is determined by what we focus on! ♥️