Updated: Apr 14, 2022
Experts say it takes at least 30 days to develop a new habit. In my experience, it takes longer. Change is not easy. But multiply the difficulty when we are talking change of your heart. When we have been hurt, or betrayed, when we feel lost, confused, resentful and angry it is a real challenge to center ourselves and return to a place where love and grace abide.
What is easier for people when they have been hurt is to react in ways that have never served them, but because they are on auto-pilot, at least they don't require much thought our energy. Is your relationship on auto-pilot? Do you feel like you limp along doing the same things over and over that don't work, until your relationship no longer works as well?
People tell me they do not want to be stuck. They say they want something better for their relationships, like a way of relating and connecting that feels good, interesting and not angry or stagnant. And yet, they keep doing those things, behaving in those ways that do not bring hope and feelings of connection, but instead, only serve to push two people further away from one another. So why does this happen?
It happens because healthy, happy relationships require that we change old, auto-pilot defensive reactions for commitment, patience, compassion and dedication. Relationships are living, growing organisms. They require care, but they also change as all living things do. Healthy happy relationships require that we understand how to change things that have proven to not work in our relationships, even if it means we must also change our hearts.
THE CHANGE PROCESS
Changes take time. Change takes focus. Change takes planning. In short, change takes real and concerted effort. Many people do not like change because it frightens them, primarily because they are not sure of the steps to take toward growth. There is higher education for everything, except for the two things people need most, parenting and relationship insight and communication skills. So, we often don't even know what steps to take to begin the change process.
To begin the process, let's consider some basic steps that are critically important if you want to change and grow in any area of your life.
DREAM (Dream with and about your Partner)
What do you really want? You must be able to envision it exactly; every detail. Dream the biggest dream you can dream with regard to the kind of relationship you most want. When you understand what it is that you want exactly it provides a detailed road map of the direction you need to go. Some people don't allow themselves to create their dream relationship in their minds because they are afraid that they will be disappointed if they don't come true. But building the dream in your mind is the first step toward making your dream a reality.
COMMIT (Commit to a life and relationship that would bring you great joy.)
You must commit to doing what you have to do in order to have the kind of relationship you greatly desire. This probably means stepping outside of your comfort zone. When we make a commitment, we make a conscious choice. A great relationship or marriage must be attended to and chosen daily. Although we chose to marry and have a wedding day, the real choice for marriage is one that calls us to make our choice to love over and over again.
What does commitment mean to you? Do you feel committed in your current relationship? If not, why not? Commitment means living committed not just when it is convenient or comfortable, but all the time. Commitment means setting priorities and following them without fail. Commitment requires no special skill, only sufficient desire, and faith in the virtue of the endeavor.
PLAN (Plan your work and work your plan.)
A plan helps you set the goals that necessary to accomplishing your dream. Success happens when your dreams put on work clothes. Sit down and create a plan and if you don't understand the steps necessary to create a great relationship, look to experts who do. This is where I have done the major work for you. I have created your step-by-step daily plan so that all you have to do it take five minutes for the exercise every day.
The Relationship Help at Home program is a wonderful resource. It is inexpensive, comprehensive, interesting and only requires that you take only five minutes a day to inspire, educate and develop skills and insight that will transform your life and relationships. It is easy to do on your computer, tablet, even your phone. You will enjoy your daily exercises, and video training of easy to implement practices that are guaranteed to strengthen and enhance your relationships, both personally and professionally.
EXAMINE and LEARN (Examine what is working and what is not working.)
First learn. Examine what is working and what is not working and learn how to improve the things that aren't working in your relationship. What is your attitude? Do you negatively interpret the actions of your partner? Are either of you sarcastic and caustic to one another. We know sarcasm is deadly to happy relationships. It is only when you carefully examine and consider where you could be killing your relationship, can you make the conscious choice to stop and recalibrate your choices and behaviors in order to better insure a positive and happy outcome. Once you have learned what to do, you must implement the things you learn. This brings us to our next important step; do.
DO (Do what healthy, happy love would have you do.)
Dreams and plans are nothing without action. When I use the word love, I am not just referring to the feeling love— that romantic, intense, elated emotion that makes us feel all warm inside, but instead, I am referring to the verb—to love. The love required to insure a lasting fulfilling marriage is not simply the feeling kind. Feelings are a part of it, but only a part. When we feel the waves of excitement and infatuation, it is easy to behave in sweet and loving ways but infatuation fades. What do we do about those times when our feelings are in flux— when we are feeling angry, frustrated, or disappointed?
Action; to do, is your major obligation, simply to do the work that is laid out for you. I can put together the best education, inspiration and insight programs, but they can't work, unless you actually DO them. Consider actually booking a couples therapy intensive at a luxury resort.
REMEMBER (You must be willing to remember what is best about your partner.)
You also must make the effort to remember what is best about your partner, and your relationship. We choose the movies that we watch time and time again in our heads. Do you replay each time you have been hurt, or will you choose the movies that matter, the movies that play examples of the happiest moments in your relationship? You need to remind yourself of the things that make you love another person. It is in remembering that you refuel your passion.
DEVELOP NEW HABITS (Develop positive and loving habits.)
Having a plan to follow and implement improves your chances of developing new, positive and loving habits. New relational habits change your behavior in consistent and powerful ways that cause you to be more insightful, understanding, focused and loving. Build habits that help keep you focused on your centered color personality tendencies because they represent what is best about you. Do the things that strengthen your ability to stay in your center even when times are stressful and challenging and you won't need to change your heart from hurt to happy, because you will be able to avoid many of the hurtful potholes in life that are easy to trip over.
CELEBRATE (Celebrate your love and connection with your beloved.)
You must celebrate your successes, not matter how small. Every step in the right direction, is a step away from unhappiness and misery. Remember to laugh often, love with all your heart and enjoy the simple things. Life is a journey, not a destination so stop and celebrate how far you have come and refuel the power of your relational dream in your heart. Appreciate the many miracles in your life and don't allow entitled feelings to steal your happiness and joy.
Dawn is the Executive Director of the healing resort, Relationship Help Resort, the architect of Primary Colors Personality Insight Tools, and author of RelationshipHelpAtHome.com ONLINE relationship help programs. Dawn is also the founder of RelationshipHelp.com
In 2008, Dawn was selected by Oprah Magazine and The White House Project as one of the nation's emerging women leaders.
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