…Consciously or Unconsciously
Every decision we make is made according to our priorities whether they be conscious or unconscious. When I brush my teeth, it’s to honor my priority of using my own teeth for the rest of my life. When I cook fresh vegetables it’s because I love veggies but also because I believe in the value of a high-veggie diet for my long-term health. If I choose a sugary treat in spite of my desire to limit diabetes symptoms, I am choosing the priority of taste or emotional need over health. I live by my priorities.
WHAT IS THE PRIORITY WHEN I REFUSE HELP FOR MY HURTING MARRIAGE?
Since we live by our priorities, what priority am I choosing when I refuse to find help to improve my hurting marriage? In some cases, the priority is to protect my ego. It’s hard to admit that what I’m doing isn’t working and that I don’t know how to make it better. In other cases, it might be that I’m afraid of being vulnerable. I might be blamed. What will I have to expose? What will I be asked to do? Am I capable of changing? Do I want a better marriage badly enough to make those changes? Or is it more important to me to blame my partner so I have no responsibility to change? Is the priority to cling to my belief that “We should be able to figure this out on our own,” even though the evidence proves that we aren’t figuring it out!
WHEN I REFUSE TO MAKE A NEEDED CHANGE, WHAT IS MY PRIORITY?
There’s no doubt that changing long-held beliefs and habits is challenging. But since there is ample proof that human beings are capable of change, even difficult changes, why do we resist? Always it’s because, in this moment, something else is a higher priority. For instance, when I know and intellectually understand that the best thing to do right now is to listen, thoroughly listen to my partner’s point of view, why do I argue instead?
THREE REASONS I RESIST CHANGE
One, because arguing rather than listening is my deeply ingrained habit. And, two, because I’d rather convince my partner that I’m right, than understand my partner’s point of view. Three, my ego is afraid of being wrong…as though that is shameful. Deep listening stops fights. It requires, for a moment, putting myself in the other’s shoes and repeating back to them, what they have said. Deep listening doesn’t require agreement. It is temporarily setting aside my position to understand the other’s. Deep listening creates an atmosphere of maturely taking turns expressing our opinions. It lays the foundation for successful problem solving. But the three reasons why I refuse to practice a behavior that stops fights are sometimes more powerful than the desire to stop fighting. In that moment I choose to live by my priority of self-protection.
THREE STEPS TO CHANGE
In my personal experience, there is only one way to live by my stated priorities. It has three steps. The first step is to admit that in some areas I want a different experience but I continue making choices according to an opposing priority. For instance, I hate fighting but I continue behaviors that escalate fights! The second step is to stop judging myself when I make an opposing choice…stop beating myself up. Self-judgment only keeps my feet nailed to the present behavior. Beating myself up blocks change, rather than motivating it. The third step is to consciously, moment by moment, day by day, override the opposing habit and deliberately make a choice that supports my desired priority.
RESPECT AND PEACE IN MY MARRIAGE
From the beginning, Jim and I wanted a peaceful, loving marriage. (Nearly everyone does!) Yet, our poor behaviors created the opposite. Reaching the pain point where we agreed we needed help was a huge turning point! 1) Then, learning how to speak respectfully to each other was the next step. BUT KNOWING HOW DID NOT BRING THE RELIEF WE LONGED FOR! 2) We had to stop blaming ourselves and each other for not knowing what we didn’t know. 3) The final step was, in my case, recognizing when I was about to do the old behavior (sarcastic put-down or yelling) and STOP. I had to consciously choose the new behavior I’d learned (speaking respectfully) in order to prevent another fight or defensive reaction from Jim.
WHEN BEHAVIOR AND PRIORITY ARE ALIGNED: RESULTS
I began living by my priority every time I stopped an old habit and chose a respectful way of acting or speaking. For the first several weeks it was hard. It was like being dragged through a knot-hole…a tight squeeze. I often felt like I was wearing a verbal straight jacket! I had to think through…plan…every word that came out of my mouth. But as the new ways became habitual, my marriage became the happy, loving, respectful relationship that I desired. My behaviors were creating the result that had been my priority since childhood. It was like coming through a dark passage into a sun-filled, flower covered meadow!
SUCCESS WITH ONE BEHAVIOR CHANGE PROVIDES A MAP
Now, I have a map to help me change other areas that are out of alignment. (Step 1) I want to achieve a weight that is healthy for my body. I know overeating is an emotional issue, not a food issue. I work with my inner child. (I’ve even written a book about inner child work!) (Step 2) I gave up self-judgment about this issue. These steps are legitimate progress. But now I know, as with my hurting marriage, that I need extra support if I am to consistently align my behavior with my priority. I recently met a woman whose helps emotional eaters. (Klia Bassing) I am beginning Step 3, consciously choosing behaviors that will eventually deliver my goal of achieving a healthier relationship with food, and a better weight for this body.
This is the straight-jacket stage…going through the knot-hole where I have to think through every step because the behaviors are new to me…oppose my long-practiced eating habits and thoughts. But in a few weeks, or months, the new habits will give me the results I want. I will then be living by my priority in this area, as I have learned to do in other areas.
If you need support in your relationship with yourself or your partner, schedule a complimentary appointment with me.
You have my love and support,