If there was ever a time for healthy relationship advice it’s now because you have probably been spending more time with your significant others than ever before.
How has that worked for you? Has closeness of contact brought you closer together, or has it driven you further apart? Are your relationships more stressful or more satisfying?
The answer to that question is likely to depend on a couple of things that you may never have heard of before: Internal and External Control Psychology
So what do these terms mean? In simple terms: –
- External control psychology is when you believe you would be happy if your partner was different and did things differently. As a result, you focus your efforts on trying to change them.
- Internal control psychology is when you understand that the only person you can change is yourself and you focus on what you can do to bring about changes in your situation.
It can seem very reasonable to believe that someone else’s behaviour needs to change in order for you to be less stressed and happy. You may even have been in counselling and told that it’s a reasonable thing to expect.
Of course, assertiveness is an important thing to achieve, but it needs to be balanced with an understanding of what the other person needs. Negotiating what works for both of you is necessary in order for a relationship to be healthy, peaceful and to thrive.
This works both ways. If someone is trying to change you, chances are you will find it stressful and if it is relentless you may become very anxious.
Have you noticed that happy people with positive levels of stress tend to evaluate themselves, while stressed out and unhappy people are constantly blaming others? You may even be doing this yourself. The first step in reducing stress in a relationship is for both parties to take responsibility for their own actions and meeting their own needs.
You Can Only Control You
- Fretting depressing and getting angry over things that you cannot control is a major contributor to high levels of stress and anxiety. Believing that coming back to an issue often enough, and hard enough, will eventually get you want you want is a recipe for stress, anxiety and a damaged relationship.
- If something is not how you would like it to be think about the things you can do to make it better for yourself before trying to get the other person to change.
Let It Go If You Can
- Pick your battles. Ask yourself this question: Does it really matter? The simplest solution to you feeling better about something might be your acceptance of it.
- If the problem is something that you believe really does need to change, talk about it with the other person in a non-judgemental way.
- This means finding a time when you are both feeling as calm as possible.
- Avoid manipulation and threats.
- Try to state the issue without blaming the other person for the way you feel.
- Work with the other person to come up with something that works for both of you.
- If an apparent solution works for one of you but not the other, the relationship will be damaged.
In the end if you can’t negotiate over something that is important, you will have to decide whether you can accept it so that the relationship can continue or not.
If you think that you might be the victim of domestic violence, whether it’s emotional, financial or physical you should seek support. You will find support searching online for domestic violence assistance in your area, or by connecting with a good counsellor or psychologist. If you believe you are in immediate danger do not hesitate to call the police.
- It’s important to understand that how the other person sees something is as real and important to them as how you see things is to you. Even if you don’t agree with another’s perceptions, respecting and accepting their position is far more effective than nagging, belittling them or trying to make them wrong.
- Neither of you can change things that have happened in the past. Be willing to focus on how you can improve your relationship moving forward, instead of bringing up all the things that have happened in the past.
- If you are finding it very difficult to get over the past it can be more helpful to talk to a good counsellor about it than to keep rehashing it with the person involved.
Successful relationships do not put undue stress on either party and sometimes, particularly in intimate relationships, the needs of the relationship have to be prioritised above the wants of the individuals in it. We all have needs that must be met, but there are so many ways to do this, and what we think we want is only one way of an infinite number of possibilities.
If you would like to understand your needs better, and how to improve your relationships, check out our online course.
Thanks for reading 😊
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