Ever wonder about the behaviors we choose, especially when caught in an emotional grip. Those moments during an interaction or exchange that take our breath when emotions take over and we snap, defend, use sarcasm, or respond in ways that are anything but helpful, and definitely do not provide what we or the relationship needs.
Why do we choose certain behaviors when we know they’re not going to work? We do more of the same expecting something different only to receive the same: distance and disconnection.
[tweetthis]Why do we keep doing what we know doesn’t work? What holds us hostage to ineffective behaviors?[/tweetthis]
Perhaps the behavior is a habit. We’ve done it for so long that it’s embedded in our way of being. It’s our go-to behavior in particular situations. We’ve used the behavior consistently and regularly. We created a habit. We believe that we can’t break it, or we refuse to break it.
Perhaps the behavior gets us what we want. Take manipulation. It might get us what we want in the short-term, but rarely does manipulation strengthen relationships, or inspire personal growth and development in the long-term. Because we so afraid to try a different behavior, such as asking for what we need or want, we keep using the ineffective behavior, even though we know the outcome. It’s as if we’re comfortable in our discomfort.
Perhaps the habit is too scary to break or change. Perhaps the fear of doing something different outweighs our longing for a different response, a different way of being. Take sarcasms or passive aggressiveness. We long to share our anger in a mature way, but because we’re afraid of the consequences or how the other person might respond, we use indirect, passive remarks, such as sarcasm in our meager attempt to express our anger.
Perhaps the behavior, even though destructive, is therapeutic in some way. Much like biting our nails, we know we should stop, but can’t. We get something out of biting our nails; we get something out of the behavior. We feel pain when we do it, a rush of adrenaline, we alter the appearance of our hands, and yet we can’t or don’t stop. Our brains latch onto the need for the behavior, making the habit or behavior more difficult to change. Even though we see how the behavior eroding our quality of life and relationships, we continue to use it.
Changing behaviors and eliminating destructive habits from our interpersonal lives requires a process of coming clean with our use of the behavior. We have to accept our truth in hopes of dissolving our denial. We have to come clean with our thinking related to the behavior, how we’re using the behavior, and how it’s hurting our relationships and us.
Coming clean involves increasing self-care because as we get up-close and personal with ourselves, the awareness can provoke pain, shame, and vulnerability. Becoming aware of our truth is not always comfortable. A process of grieving might unfold. It’s important to take care of us during these periods of insight by nurturing our minds, bodies, and spirits.
Coming clean also involves addressing our fear of changing the behavior. Why do we hang on to the behavior? What does it get us? What’s scary about changing it and doing something different? What about changing the behavior leaves us naked and vulnerable? Why we use behaviors that do not serve us is most often related to all our core fears. Unless we address them, we will continue to do more of the same expecting different results.
If you’re ready to live differently, numerous resources exist, including my blogs that offer practices for changing behaviors. One of my favorites is Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements. The book rests on the foundation of four practices that if practiced consistently can create transformative life habits. A second favorite is Gary Zukav’s, Spiritual Partnership Guidelines. The guidelines outline four practices that you can apply to all relationships as you create new habits in your life.
The process of changing behaviors takes time, support, and a dedicated commitment to change. I do not recommend going on the journey alone. Invite support from a trusted friend, your partner, an objective family member, or group where you can share your unfolding truth and feel accepted, held, and loved unconditionally. Emotional support is a number one ingredient to successful change.
It takes 21-days to create a habit, so commit to trying your new behavior for 21 days. As you practice with new more effective behaviors, observe the reactions of others, the way your relationships begin to respond. Notice and observe your response to using different behaviors. See what you notice inside and outside. It might feel awkward and out-of-sync at first, but give your new behaviors time to take root.
We must confront what holds us hostage to ineffective behaviors, grow the courage to release the behaviors, and bravely choose different behaviors that decrease distance and increase connections.
Feel free to keep me posted and updated on your progress. I’d love to hear from you!
Sending you inspiration,