>Why does this keep happening to me?!

How many times have you asked yourself this very question, sitting halfway through the container of whatever consumable comfort is affixed to your hand during these moments… Your spoon/really long straw/prohibitively expensive shoe poised in the air, you wonder, ‘Why does this keep happening to me?!’, sure that whatever “it” is must be the result of a curse, or at least some global conspiracy! Maybe you wail, scream, or gain six pounds purely in raw cookie dough; either way, it doesn’t get you closer to solving the problem.

When you see the same… exact… patterns continuously popping up in your life, you have to start by looking at the constants – one of which is you! Oh, stop – it’s not all your fault… and seeking blame never solved a problem, anyway… The good news is that there may be things you can do to improve the situation!

If you want a different result

>Look at the problematic situation head-on -(ex: I’m miserable because my partner keeps yelling at me; no matter what I do, it isn’t good enough.)

>Consider your role in the situation – (ex: The more my partner yells, the quieter I get, I’m just waiting for it to be over so I can get out of there.)

>Think about what makes you behave in that way – (ex: I try speaking up, but my partner just accuses me of not understanding and storms off. I think I’m a little bit afraid of my partner sometimes, not of them hurting me, but of them being mad at me. I just want us to be happy.)

>Decide how you’d like your behavior to look different – (ex: I’d like to be less of an open target. I want to speak calmly, and if my partner doesn’t stop yelling, I plan to suggest that we take a break until we can both speak respectfully to each other.)

>Address the situation at a time when things are calm. Timing and approach are as important as what you have to say. Try to recreate the circumstances of the last few productive conversations you had – what time of the day was it? Where were you? How did you bring it up? (I’m pretty sure it didn’t involve shouting over the TV at your partner while getting the kids out to soccer as your yippyyappy cocker spaniel simultaneously insists that he has-to-has-to-has-to be walked… right?!)

If it’s an individual problem, it may be helpful to journal, meditate, or spend time with someone who knows you well and can help you think through your problematic patterns.

>Anticipate “relapse” – Even in the conversation you’re having about it, you may re-engage in the exact pattern you’re trying to change!! No one is perfect, not even you!!! (sorry…) When relapse occurs, practice the 3 R’s”: Recognize the problematic pattern; Remind yourself (and your partner) of what you’re trying to do differently; and Reset by immediately stopping the old behavior and engaging in the behavior you’d rather see.

… and if all else fails, just remember: The definition of insanity is repeating the same patterns over and over and expecting a different result

Most Supportively, Maggie







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