We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks talking about defensiveness, criticism, and the patterns that ensue when this becomes the standard way of communicating in your relationship. By now, you know the damage this dynamic creates and how to identify when it’s happening.
But, what do you do instead?
Take radical responsibility.
Take 100% ownership of the ways in which you contributed to a hard moment.
Here are some of the benefits:
1 | You regain a sense of control in an otherwise out of control situation.
2 | You immediately feel calmer and less angry.
3 | You de-escalate a tense situation with your partner (rather than up the ante).
To take radical responsibility, make a mental (or physical) list of all the choices you made that contributed to the situation at hand. For example, if you’re frustrated with your partner because they forgot to pick up the dry cleaning you needed, you might say:
“I chose to wait until the last minute to pick up the dry cleaning.”
“I chose to ask my partner to pick up the dry cleaning, instead of picking it up myself.”
“I chose to work at a job that requires me to wear clothes that go to the dry cleaner.”
Give it a try the next time something triggers your anger and let us know - what is your new emotional experience? How quickly does your anger dissipate? In what ways did taking radical responsibility serve you and your relationship?