Derrek asks, “Some people genuinely love each other despite going bat-sh*t crazy on each other each and every day. It’s weird, but it’s not unheard of. In fact it’s fairly common. And I think it starts to kick-in once a couple has been together for several years (married or otherwise), meaning it was not always a bad relationship, it just slowly got there. I think what I really want to know is can a person be strong enough to change his / her vibrations while still IN the relationship in order to manifest a very real change? And if it’s possible, how is it done?”
I’ve written about similar topics before. In The Anatomy Of An Abusive Relationship, I explored what an abusive relationship is and advised that if you find yourself in one, the best course of action is generally to get out and then work on your vibration (of course, you have to shift considerably just to get out).
In Dear LOA: Is My Urge to Leave My Boyfriend Intuition or Fear?, I explored what to do if you’re feeling an urge to leave, but aren’t sure if it’s resistance or your intuition niggling at you that it’s time to go. That post, however, deals more with subtle discord and situations where there’s really nothing too volatile going on and where you don’t have any obvious reason to leave, but are thinking about it anyway.
But what if you have tons of reasons to leave? What if there are screaming fights, and throwing of things, loads of drama, hot, hot makeup sex, and enormous ups and downs? What if you find yourself in a totally dysfunctional relationship with someone you love? Do you run like hell, or can the relationship be saved?
Dysfunctional isn’t necessarily a bad thing
There are a lot of people out there who would tell you to get the hell out of a dysfunctional relationship. I’m not one of them. Why not? Because, if you attracted that dysfunction for a reason (and you did), and you don’t clean that shit up, then you’re going to take your messed up butt with you into the next relationship and recreate it all over again. Just running away doesn’t solve much. Mind you, if there is abuse, if you are being beaten into the ground, either literally or figuratively, I would always advise that you leave ASAP. But for the sake of this post, I’m not talking about an abusive relationship. I’m talking about when there’s drama coming from both sides.
If you get too dysfunctional people together, they may actually be perfect for each other, at least in that moment. They will both be mirroring their volatile energy back to each other. If that’s where your vibration is at, some totally Zen person isn’t going to be a match to you at all. They won’t have it in them to mirror your daddy issues right back at you until you finally figure out that you might want to do something about them. In that sense, a dysfunctional relationship can be incredibly helpful and perfect.
The key to “fixing” a relationship is to change your vibration. That much is clear. But, can you do that while in a volatile situation that’s triggering you heavily on an ongoing basis? How can you learn to see the other person in a different light when they are literally screaming in your face?
It’s not easy
The easier route is definitely to get out and then work on your vibration. But what if you don’t want to do that? What if you love this drama queen, and the idea of leaving is far more painful than the idea of staying, even if nothing changes? Is it possible for you to change your vibration while in the midst of all that turmoil? Yes, it is possible. But it’s not easy.
Every relationship can potentially be fixed
I’m a big believer in the idea that pretty much any relationship can be fixed. That means, that pretty much any relationship can be brought into alignment – where both parties can communicate authentically and get what they want. Will that always lead to them staying together? No. But an authentic split is not nearly as painful or volatile as a dysfunctional one.
The question for me is not whether or not a relationship can be fixed, but rather, is it worth the effort to you? If bringing your relationship into alignment will require MASSIVE shifts on your part, you may decide that it’s too much work and that you’d rather get out and try to shift incrementally, without having someone constantly slap you in the face with your resistance. Leaving is a totally valid choice, and so is staying. And no one but you can make that decision for you.
Should you stay or go?
For me, it comes down to a set of basic questions:
Are you happy? This may seem like a simple question, but it really isn’t. A lot of people have never asked themselves that. Many are afraid to, because they don’t want to hear the answer. But if you’re not happy, it does you no good to deny it and pretend that you are. It also doesn’t automatically mean that you have to leave. Again, I do believe relationships can be fixed.
What hurts more – the idea of leaving, or the idea of staying, even if nothing changes? Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t change anything, but in that moment, you want to figure out where your motivation is at. If the thought of leaving feels like a huge relief, you may have already made the decision to leave, but you’re just waiting for permission to do so. You may not think you can leave, because of children, or vows, or you don’t want to disappoint your dead grandmother. I’ll have to address those beliefs in another post, but for now, if leaving feels like heaven to you, then your work would be in making peace with the beliefs that make that seems impossible, rather than trying to fix the relationship. Your motivation to fix it is no longer sufficient.
But, if the idea of leaving your partner (not the kids, etc., your partner) is too painful to consider right now, then you may well have the motivation to resolve your issues.
Are you willing and able to give your partner a fair chance? Do you actually believe that it’s possible for them to change? This is an important one, because if you can’t even imagine the possibility that the other person might have it in them to act differently, if you’ve gotten to the point where you no longer believe that they can be reasonable or kind or care about your feelings, then you have no chance of shifting your vibration regarding this specific person. It would be best to back off, leave, and work on relationships in general. You cannot create what you cannot imagine. And so, if you can’t even conceive of the idea that they might be able to mirror a different vibration back to you, then you can’t line up with it. Note, that you don’t have to know HOW your partner might change, you just have to believe that they could.
Are you willing to give up the idea of asking them to change so that you can feel better, and do the work on yourself? You have to at least be willing to believe in this theoretically, even if you’re not sure how to translate it practically. If you don’t own your own emotions, if you’re not willing to take your partner out of the equation when it comes to how you feel, then you won’t be successful with this work. You’re going to have to be willing to give up the idea that “if they would only do this or that, everything would be fine”, and take a look at how and why you are manifesting these experiences. This can be a hard pill to swallow and you may not be willing to do that. In that case, it’d be better for you to get out.
If, after all of these questions, you’ve determined that you are, in fact, willing to save the relationship, then you have a chance. If not, it’s time to start packing. Although, you’ll now have a different perspective on why you’re leaving, which should make it easier (not easy, just easier).
Get some space
If you decide not to leave, you’re still going to need to “get away” from the other person to some extent. This means, you’re going to have to create a safe place for yourself, take some time every day and do this inner work. You can do this in your head, or you can actually create a physical space that’s yours. Depending on how much work you’re willing to do, I’d say, put aside a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 1 hour a day. Try to find some time when you won’t be interrupted. This isn’t something you can do on the side, while you’re multi tasking. If you want to save your volatile relationship, you’re going to have to be willing to do the work. If you’re not willing, that’s ok. Just be honest with yourself.
Get a journal
I know of no better way to help you focus, other than getting professional help, like a therapist or coach, than journaling. Writing something down makes it more tangible. Often, simply putting something down on paper allows you to get a different view of it. You can spot patterns more easily when you have a written record of your thoughts and feelings, you can let go of anger and resentment, and you can figure out what it is that you really want. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about any “Dear Diary, today I ate a chicken salad for lunch” kind of journaling. I’m talking about deliberately shifting your thoughts through writing.
Work through what bothers you, but start easy
We have this tendency, when we want to fix something that’s broken, to start in the area that bothers us the most. But that’s really the hard way to go about it. It’s much easier to build up some momentum using easier triggers and then hit the big ones when you’re more stable. You wouldn’t take on a black belt Kung Fu master your first day of class. You’d practice, gain strength and technique, and spar with opponents that were easier to beat. And, over time, you’d reach the level where you could spar with the black belt without getting your ass handed to you. This is like that.
Taking on the biggest issue you have before you’ve gotten some practice under your belt, will leave you feeling like you just got pretzeled by a Karate champ. And then, you’ll most likely decide that it must be your fault, making you feel even worse. When all that really happened is that your inexperienced and impatient mouth wrote a check that your butt couldn’t cash.
So, you start with issues and events that bother you, but only a bit. The stuff that you keep wanting to dismiss as not important (you know, because if only that one thingy would change, everything would be ok). Start with that stuff.
Shifting your beliefs using Triggering Events
This is the phase that a lot of people get stuck on. I’ll do my best to explain it here, but it’s hard to truly get this unless you’ve experienced it. To make this more practical, I’m going to add an example in [brackets].
Pick an incident that bothered you, and ask yourself WHY.
[Example: My husband walked out in the middle of an argument, and it made me want to kill him. I totally broke down and lost it.]
Why did this incident bother you? What emotions came up for you?
[Example: Intense anger, which I know comes from powerlessness. So, I guess I felt totally powerless.]
Why did you feel those particular emotions? What was it that they said that truly set you off? Remember that none of your reasons have to make sense.
[Example: I was ok until he walked out. That set me off. ]
Why did what they said, or did, or didn’t do, cause you to bust out the crazy eyes? What did that particular detail bring up for you? What did you think about yourself in that moment?
[Example: I felt like I wasn’t worth fighting for. Like he was giving up on me.]
What other incidents in your life can you think of that feel like that? Have you ever had this reaction before? If you can focus on the feeling of the incident, memories that feel just like that will come up.
[Example: Oh man, the first thing that comes up is the memory of my dad leaving us. He walked out and abandoned my mom and us. This feels just like that.]
What thought, premise or belief do those memories have in common? What did this and the other incidents cause you think about yourself? What are you really reacting to? Is this thought true? Do you want to believe this thought?
[Example: Both times a man I loved walked out. It made me feel like I didn’t matter, like I wasn’t loved. Like I wasn’t good enough to be loved. No, I don’t want to believe that, at all. And no, it’s not true. My husband does love me.]
What thought do you want to believe instead? This is where you reach for a better feeling perspective. Take your time with this, it can be hard to find at first.
[Example: I want to believe that my husband loves me that and he wants to make this work; that he thinks I’m important enough to fight for. I want to believe that I’m important to him.]
Now that you know what the actual thought is that you’re reacting to, is it possible for you to see how your perception of the original incident may have been false? Is there another way to look at what happened? You’re not letting anyone off the hook here, you’re merely disarming the trigger. So, you don’t want to say “well, I guess he didn’t mean to beat me.” It’ll be more like –
[Example: When my husband walked out of the argument, I reacted to the memory of my dad walking out on us. My husband wasn’t doing that, he was just getting some space. He wasn’t abandoning me. I assumed that he wasn’t going to come back, but honestly, that’s not true at all.]
And only now that you’ve obtained this clarity, would you go and have a chat with your partner about what happened. By knowing why you suddenly turned into a screeching ninja, you can explain what you were really afraid of to your partner. This is a very different way to have a conversation. You are no longer accusing or asking them to make you feel better. You are telling them what you were feeling and why. And from that point of view, the original argument may come into very different focus.
Rinse and repeat
Continue to dissect incident after incident, and shift them as you go. If you start with the easier ones, you’ll be able to build enough momentum to finally go after the big, hairy issues. Notice, though, that none of these “easier” ones are actually that trivial. A simple argument can trigger deep fears that have been with you for decades. So, even the easy ones may actually help you to shift the core of what’s really wrong. Don’t underestimate the power of doing this kind of work. Over time, you’ll gain a completely different understanding of yourself, what you want and what you need. You’ll be able to communicate more authentically. You won’t get as defensive. You’ll own your emotions instead of making your partner responsible for them. And, you’ll start to line up with what you actually want, as your own vibration begins to match it.
You may notice that none of these steps involve you getting your partner to change. They (your partner) will, but as a result of this work, not in order to facilitate it. In other words, when you feel better, they’ll mirror that back to you and act in ways that make it easy for you to feel better. They will not change the way they act so that you can feel better, while you’re still in a bad feeling vibration. No one, no matter how much they love you, can defy your vibration. Ever.
I’ll share more techniques in the future that will help you bring a relationship back into line, but this is the most powerful one I know. It requires you to really get to know yourself, to own your emotions and to dissect what it is that you want. Other techniques will merely build on this foundation of self-awareness.
Again, this isn’t easy, but it’s totally doable, if you’re willing to do the work. If not, you have your answer, too.
Check out Coaching Call #13, which includes an actual example of releasing beliefs using triggering events. In this call, the client realizes a powerful shift by dissecting and reframing an incident with her sister.
Work with me personally to identify your beliefs quickly and easily. Check out my coaching packages here.