Is there anyone out there who hasn’t tried to change? Who hasn’t been on a diet or given up smoking? Who hasn’t resolved to keep their temper, or to stick up for themselves better, or to be kinder, or firmer, or more outgoing?
We all do it. An event, a comment, or a growing feeling tips you off that its time for you to change something, and all of a sudden you find yourself trying to do what ever it is differently.
Changing is seldom graceful. After all, you’ve acquired your habit for a reason. Maybe you enjoy it. Maybe it feels safe and comfortable and familiar. You certainly know how to do it. You probably do it before you even think about it.
So you want to be different, and you also want to stay the same. It’s no wonder if the whole business feels awkward and frustrating, and that’s before anyone else gets in on the act.
When you let others know your intentions, you get to do your learning with an audience. That’s when you find out how change-friendly the culture is in your close relationships.
Some partners point out every slip. They may get angry, impatient, or scornful. They may make jokes about your efforts.
Keeping secrets maybe a clue that your relationship is not set up to support change. So if you find yourself sneaking around to break your diet it might be time to ask your partner to work with you for the change you want.
Ask your partner what the change you’re aiming for means to them. They may be worried that you are changing because you want to move away from them. Maybe they feel that your health, or their safety or wellbeing depend on you succeeding. Perhaps they feel desperate or angry when it seems you might not make it.
If you change, it affects your partner. It also affects them if you stay the same. Maybe if it’s a tough change to make, it might work best if you are both involved. Both of you have goals, hopes and fears to take into account. Both of you have roles to play.
Changing habits depends on information and partners have plenty. They have ideas about the kind of situations that get your habit going. They recognise the early warning signs. The earlier you can see it coming, the better chance you have of choosing to do something different.
Welcome evidence of change as part of an ongoing development. Let the inevitable slip-ups be an opportunity to learn more about getting change the way you both want it.
Change is a process. Let it evolve. In a change-friendly relationship both of you will be out to notice every time the new behaviour or thinking shows up. Look for it, expect it, and celebrate it. The more you notice change, the more change happens