One of mine was to blog more… like once a week. I want to write an excuse right now! See? I’m doing it again.
Change is hard, folks.
RE-actions - RE-actions – we do them over and over again. Well-grooved neural pathways in the brain entice us to re-act with the familiar behavior instead of acting.
Examples of re-actions? Well, obviously, making excuses instead of following through on intentions, as illustrated above. Re-actions might include negative coping behaviors that do nothing to solve the problem and may even make it worse. Here are some examples:
- "I’ve gained weight, I’m so stressed out, and I’m eating everything I see!"
- "I over-spent during the holidays; I know I did, and I’m so anxious I can’t open the credit card bill because I can’t pay it, so I went shopping to make myself feel better."
- "I can’t help myself; you make me act like this."
Blame has never solved a problem. I’ll grant that it was likely reinforced as a child when we figured out that finger-pointing kept us from "getting in trouble." That is very likely the origin of blame.
Action → Consequences → Learned Re-Action = e.g., Blame
So much of what we do as a reaction was learned in childhood. Even the language we use implies the age at which we learned to avoid responsibility. "Getting in trouble" is the language of a child.
To dismantle old re-actions, we need to understand them, and perhaps more importantly, understand why they do not work and can damage your relationships. A much better approach is to think and behave around what we want instead of coping with what we don’t want. This will help you manage conflict more effectively in your life.
A successful conflict resolution strategy takes responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, rather than making excuses or blaming others. Like any new behavior, weekly blogging included, we find it very difficult and stumble at first. We may even "make up a story" that it’s impossible. Anything new is difficult the first time we do it, maybe even the 2nd or 3rd, but we get better and better with practice.
Reducing *reactivity* will improve your life and your relationships to make room for what you truly desire:
Creating a connection with your partner
Keeping a commitment
Getting control of your finances
Taking ownership of your own stuff instead of blaming
These are all *actions* worthy of the effort to improve your life and your relationships. And if you stumble at first, make no excuses. Just own it like the adult that you are and try again.
Open the mailed bills
Close the refrigerator
Begin the dialogue with your partner
Lose the blame
The best way to lose any negative behavior is to replace it with something positive. So when I say "close the refrigerator," I need to ask, "what will you do instead?" Try going for a walk or writing or talking about the anxiety that’s creating the need to cope.
What does losing blame and opening a dialogue look like to you? Start with a respectful request and intention.
"I noticed I had a reaction about X. I’d like to have a dialogue about it with you when you have time."
"My intention is to share my world and connect with you in the process."
"My relationship with you is important, and I really want to work on having an 80/20 positive/negative ratio."
"I’ll start by saying how much I appreciate you."
My intention is to help you have a healthy and thriving relationship and hopefully set new goals for 2022 that will take you there!
Change is hard. With intention, mindfulness, and behavioral follow-through, it is also positive and can take you to a place you always desired for you and your relationship.
If you're struggling with change or your relationship, we're here to help. Check out our virtual and in-person Imago Relationships Workshops and Imago Relationships Therapy.
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This blog post was written by Jeannie Ingram, LPC - MHSP, Certified Imago Relationship Therapist.
Jeannie Ingram is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Coach, and Consultant. In her role as psychotherapist, she specializes in couples therapy as a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist and Getting the Love You Want Workshop Presenter. In workshops and in therapy, she helps couples move beyond destructive, painful arguing to improve communication, restore their connection, live and love in more positive, fulfilling, satisfying relationships.
Jeannie assists individuals who need help improving ineffective patterns or managing life transitions to find positive change or growth.
She has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as well as a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from Capella University. Jeannie helps couples reconnect in her private practice in Nashville, TN, and through her Getting the Love You Want and Start Right, Stay Connected Couples workshops in the Southeast.
She loves cooking, writing, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. Most of all, she is dedicated to helping couples and individuals find joy, meaning, success and connection through the practice of mindful, purposeful living and loving.
Check out Jeannie's website too!