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Need to Fix your Relationship? Here’s Something to do Today.

fix your relationshipSo you’d like to fix your relationship? Who doesn’t sometimes. Relationships are hard.  Especially if it feels like the other person is trying to be difficult. Or even worse, if it seems like they don’t care. So if you’re like most people, you tend to focus on them.  That’s normal, because it seems like they are the problem.

But what if you switched?

What if you focused on yourself?  Stay with me here.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t do something different. They probably should!  I’m just saying that if you switch the focus, things might get better —quicker.  Sometimes, the way to fix your relationship starts with you.

A little science: We are all HARD WIRED to Connect to other people. But we also hardwired to protect ourselves. In fact all mammals are. And biologically, we can’t do these at the same time; therefore it’s one or the other. 

    Connect or Protect

fix your relationship by connecting

Connection looks like:

Soft eyes
Open face
Open body
Soft voice

Connection feels like:

Relaxed and Calm
Emotionally Engaged
Excited and Happy

Protection looks Opposite.

fix your relationship by less protecting

Protection looks like:

Piercing eyes
Closed face
Closed body
Stern voice

Protection feels like:

Tense or worried
Rigid or Chaotic
Emotionally Checked Out
Closed and Restricted

A little more science: evolution has made sure that you and Julia know how to do both.  And, we’re all more likely to go into protection mode for survival reasons. False positives are more evolutionary desirable than false negatives. If you’re walking in the park, it’s better to mistake a stick is a snake… then to think the snake is a stick.

All day long, the primitive part of your brain is working. In a millisecond it decides if you should Protect or Connect with others. (This happens incredibly fast, and starts out subconsciously.) This is just as true for other people in your life. So, the way you say something, is often more important that what you actually say. And the way you say it, is determined in a large part by whether YOU are in protection or connection mode.

When you’re with others, mutual regulation of the nervous system happens. Your limbic brain regulates their limbic brain. When you’re in connection mode, the people you’re with are more likely to connect with you. When this happens, we feel safe, engaged and can calm down.  But when you’re in protection mode… well the other person tends to go there too.

Why Does this Matter?

If you want to fix your relationship because it’s in a bad place, you are probably in protection mode. And this triggers them to be in protection mode too.  But if what you want to connect, to work things out, to fix your relationship… getting out of protection mode is a very good step. You can sometimes begin to fix your relationship all by yourself!

Do you smile and try to connect when you come home? Or do you attack or numb out? Remember protection is what we ALL do, you are not wrong if you do this. But it totally does effect the quality of your relationship.  Do you find that other people are in protection mode, unable to hear you? Is your face and body open or closed? Is your voice soft or stern?  Are your eyes soft, bright and engaged?

Do You Resemble One Julia more?

If a relationship is in trouble,  you’re probably in protection mode with them. Maybe even in protection mode A LOT?!

If you’ve been protecting yourself for a while, it will probably take some time to begin to connect. Lots of us are not aware of whether we are in protection or connection mode at first.  And then sometimes, we don’t feel like we’re in protection mode, but others think we are because of our non-verbal cues. And so figuring it out, can then be followed by practice. Sometimes putting reminders around can help you remember to practice. Maybe a picture on your phone? Or a Post-it at your desk?  But it’s often a very effective way to start to create a better relationship.

  Do You Want to Fix Your Relationship?

So, if you want better relationships, one of the fastest ways to start can begin right here.  Sometimes sharing this info with someone you trust can go a long way towards using it.  If you learn and practice this with another person, you can help each other really “get it”… faster. If you want to forward this page, feel free. You really don’t have to stay stuck.  There are ways, proven ways, to change the relationships that matter most.  And this can be a really good place to start.

If you’d like more info on Connection and Protection check out this great videoIt was created by a skilled colleague with a great Swedish accent! And if you’re interested in professional help for your relationship fix, I’m a licensed therapist in St. Louis. I offer therapy based in science with an emphasis on relationships. Because relationships really determine how much we enjoy life! Or don’t.

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