Good or bad relationships do not just appear out of thin air, a good relationship rarely springs from a bad one with a single spectacular explosion, neither does a good relationship sink like the Titanic after one single scrape. Rather relationships are the result of millions of tiny little events, thousands of interactions – they are the sum of both your actions and reactions to the ever changing world around you, and to each other. Teeth don’t rot because of one piece of chocolate, marriages don’t rot because of one row. Neither do teeth sparkle after one brushing, but after a lifetime of cleaning and care – just like marriages.
It is hard to know how to behave without the benefit of hindsight; in some circumstances it is best to stay quiet, in others an assertive approach will yield the best results and in a few situations anger is the most appropriate response – not to mention displays of sadness, humour, empathy, sympathy, joy, understanding, admiration, adoration or interest. Perhaps it is the sheer range of choices available that drives us to limit our repertoire of behaviours, which we repeat over and over without thinking. When the negative consequences of our behaviour start to dye the fabric of our lives, it is tempting to blame fate and other people (it may be both, but you can’t change them) the responsible course of action though is to think about how one has contributed to the problems, and change oneself.
This is my personal guide to going about such a change – please alter what you don’t like, take responsibility for filtering advice and information yourself.
- Make a list of what isn’t working for you.
- For each point on the list, write a reasonable goal of where you want to be.
- Starting with the easiest and most achievable goal, take logical baby steps towards realising it – be imaginative and innovative in your approach, ask others for advice and investigate what baby steps are available to you, there’s a world of options out there.
- Keep your goal in mind, others will try to bait you back into the old ways, keep making baby steps in the right direction. If you slip back, don’t worry, keep going
- Deal with one goal at a time (although once the first few goal have been met, other areas just seem to follow suit, like dominoes)
The best working example I know of this scheme in action is to be found in the book “Sink Reflections”. The authoress tells her story while explaining the steps she uses in the Fly Lady system for housework. Prior to becoming the most organised housewife on the planet, her life was a mess, her house was a mess, her marriage was a mess and her appearance was a mess. She improved her appearance and her house in a series of baby steps, which she maintained once things were back on track. Having reached this point it sounds like her life got better and her marriage followed suit. Cute.