We depend on the loved ones in our life for so much. In fact, a large part of our sense of well-being is derived from our perception of the state of the relationships with those closest to us both emotionally and physically. Thus, if those relationships are "healthy", we tend to be "healthy" and if those relationships are "sick", "hurt", or "struggling"...well, then, we tend to mirror those negative states as well. That being the case, are we just mere victims to the whims of emotion and the circumstances or situations in which we find ourselves and our partnerships? Or can we take a more direct control of this symbiosis and reverse engineer it...fix ourselves in order to fix our relationships with the others in our lives? The answer to all of those questions is actually, "Yes." Yes, we are victims to a certain extent because as much as we would like, we just can't control everybody and everything. Yet, "victim" has such a negative connotation, the mere mention or suggestion of the term in relation to ourselves, often makes us cringe or immediately get defensive. But what is the real definition - the unemotional definition - of the word 'victim'? Of course, one definition of 'victim' indicates undue harm projected or caused by another person. On the other hand, another definition of 'victim' is merely: an unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance. Not quite as bad, right? If a victim is merely an "unfortunate person" who has suffered from some "adverse circumstance", then I am sure we have all been "victims" at some point in our existence. The question then becomes, how do you stop being a victim, change your fortune, and get rid of those adverse circumstances in your life? Knowing of course, that when this happens, it will transform the relationships in your life as well! First of all, you need to understand that everything that is happening to you - and that has ever happened to you - is perfect. By "perfect", I mean it has both positives and negatives. So, if you are experiencing these "adverse circumstances" in your relationships, if handled properly, the recognition of this situation - and the willingness to address it and work at making it better - can actually radically transform your partnership for the better! So, how is this done? A lot of experts preach "communication" as the key to solving or resolving relationship issues. And while communication is a vital and necessary part of this relationship transformation, it really just helps to get at the heart of the issues - clarifying and validating the victimization that has occurred. But then it becomes, "...now what?" The real key, I believe, is that once the lines of communication are open and the "adverse circumstances" you are facing as a couple have been identified and are clear, you must take concrete steps to change them. By its very nature, a circumstance is a temporary state. And as a temporary state, it is ripe for change! That being the case, here are 4 simple, action-oriented, steps to taking your relationships from "victimized" to "victorious": Make an Effort to Remember the Good There is a reason you and your partner got together. Something about each of you attracted you to the other. When is the last time you actually sat down and tried to inventory all the things you like (or even liked, past-tense) about each other instead of constantly cataloging what is "wrong"? Take this even further and have both of you actually make a real, physical, list of both the things you initially liked about your partner and the things you like today. Usually, this exercise is very eye-opening and often, you find out more about yourself than your partner based on his/her responses. For example, you might not have even realized that you had lost your playful side that your partner used to love so much. As a result, he stopped teasing you in the living manner that you once adored. More often than not, this exercise enables you to see your own part in your "adverse circumstances" and this is actually a huge step toward overcoming the "victim" mentality and pattern. Take a Chance at Being "Selfless" for one week By no means am I condoning letting a partner mistreat or abuse you. And by no stretch of the imagination am I saying that your life should be spent in total service of your partner if you are not receiving equal - or close to equal - effort. But again, think back to the beginning of your relationship... Usually, in the beginning, we are eager to "do" things for the object of our affection. We are not near as consumed with what we are getting back but are more elated by what we can offer to make ourselves more attractive (and I am not talking about physical attraction here) in our partner's eyes. In a "good" relationship, this was usually the experience of both persons (Note: If you did not ever experience this mutual giving/selflessness in the beginning of your relationship, you very likely would not have made it to this point - of trying to get your relationship "back on track". Getting a relationship "back on track" is not a one-person job--it is an objective that must be actively pursued by both parties). For one week, try to get that feeling back. Both parties should commit to performing random acts of "selfless" kindness for the other. No strings attached. No ulterior motives. Simply "do" for the other person because somewhere (even if it's buried deep) inside, you still care for and/or love that person deeply. Do these things only because you want to make the other person "happy". Stop Holding Onto Old Grudges Every recovery program that exists starts with forgiveness. What are you holding onto, on a daily basis, that is affecting your relationship with your partner? What have you NOT forgiven? Try this... sit down and write out a list of everything you are currently holding against your mate. Be brutally honest. Write down every single thing he/she has done that you still fume about to this day. Then, as you each look at your list, really try to think if anything good at all came from whatever it was that made you so angry. I am 99.9% convinced, for everything you are "angry" about - or holding onto resentment for - because of the way the universe works, something positive came from that "negative" occurrence. Do this for each item you have written down. When you are finished, look at your partner and only remember the "good" you were just able to come up with that came from each of those things on your list. Then, physically take a lighter or matches and go outside and burn the list. As the list curls and burns, and your writing on the paper is erased as it is turned to ash, really feel yourself letting go of those negative emotions and memories. Take the Time to Find Out What Exactly Makes Your Partner Feel Loved - and DO IT! All of us have our own "love language" and scientists have documented over and over that these languages are as diverse as the languages spoken by different countries. Furthermore, this is not a "man's language" versus a "woman's language" thing. Just as there a hundreds of dialects for the "real" languages spoken in the world, each individual has their own "love language dialect" as well. What makes you feel "loved" by someone else (and of course, we find it much easier to "love" when we are feeling "loved")? Is it hearing your partner say, "I love you," or maybe, it's when your partner does an act for you such as putting a straw in your beverage or cleaning your home? Is it getting random poems, notes in your briefcase, or when your partner praises you for your efforts and expresses gratitude? Sit with your partner and ask them what makes them feel love/loved and what actions give them certainty they are loved. Also share your needs and work together to meet each others needs. In closing, everyone has 6 human needs: love/connection, significance, certainty, uncertainty, growth and contribution. What are your top three needs? It is proven that a partner who meets at least three of his/her partner's highest valued needs creates so much "love" as a response from their partner that it borders on obsession. Now be careful with that knowledge because obsession breeds rejection and rejection breeds obsession. It can be a vicious cycle. The point, however, is that it doesn't really take much to create - and get back - that "lovin feeling" if you and your partner both put forth just a little bit of effort. For the past two decades, Lisa Christiansen has served as advisor to heads of state, peak performers in sports, business, politics and entertainment, as well as leaders around the globe. Lisa Christiansen is the global authority on Leadership Psychology; a recognized authority on the psychology of leadership and human behavior, with a Doctorate in Exercise and Nutritional Sciences and a degree in psychology. Dr. Lisa Christiansen has helped millions of people create extraordinary lives globally. Her expertise and guidance has enriched the lives of icons such as pop superstar Kelly Clarkson, Olympian Dara Torres, and the members of the rock band Journey.
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