by Jeffrey Levine
Many of us get bogged down with what we “gotta” do to make a relationship work. No wonder we feel frustrated and stuck while so much of what we do feels like a chore.
We feel angry and resentful because of what we think we have to do.
What if we could turn that feeling around?
I found a very powerful exercise in a book called “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg that helps do just that.
Try This Exercise To Change The “Vibe” In Your Relationship
First, take out a piece of paper and make a list of everything that you “gotta” do – all those things that you feel you have no choice – those things that you don’t necessarily like but for whatever reason you believe you’re stuck doing.
That list can be very long. Mine sure was.
Now here’s where the shift happens. Before each item, write the words “I choose to…”
So if you wrote on your list “Do the laundry” now your sentence would say “I choose to do the laundry…”
With this step you begin to take responsibility for every item on your list – you change “gotta” to “wanna.” This step can feel very strange since most of the things on your list don’t feel like a choice.
You might even have some resistance or feel like giving up on this exercise.
Keep Going With This Next, Relationship Deepening Step
Now, at the end of each item, add the words “…because I want…” and be honest about why you do that particular action. By doing this you begin to understand why you choose everything you do.
So now your sentence might read, “I choose to do the laundry because I want to feel good when I get dressed.”
Here’s an example of one of mine:
One of my items that I felt I “gotta” do was “Go to networking meetings” to market my business. This was something I thought I had to do. I was in business for myself, so I had to go to networking meetings to meet potential clients.
So I wrote, “I choose to go to networking meetings because I want more business.”
All of sudden my perspective shifted. I didn’t “gotta” – I was choosing it. And if I wanted, I could choose not to – especially if I could find business other ways.
Another item on my list was “read trade periodicals.” Boring!
This became “I choose to read trade periodicals because I want to stay informed about my field.” It’s how I improve as a coach and consultant. Not exciting or glamorous – but important. In this case, I became clearer about my choice – I want to educate myself.
I encourage you to make your list. What do you think you “have to” do?
Then empower yourself by choosing to do it (or not) – and knowing why.
This works so powerfully in your relationship because you may be “doing” things out of habit that are actually pushing your man away, making him feel pressured, or, even worse – making him experience you as “maternal.”
See if you can change your feeling of “obligation” into a feeling of “wanting to” – it’s amazing how just this simple thing can change the whole “vibe” in your relationship.
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