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How to Improve Any Relationship by Thinking Like a Therapist

Look For Triggers

Sometimes our behaviour is tied to invisible environmental triggers we have around us, the habits and routines that we no longer realize. We need to be aware of these triggers that set our behaviour in motion.

Example: A certain morning routine like listening to the news can make us late for our work.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Improve Any Relationship by Thinking Like a Therapist

How to Improve Any Relationship by Thinking Like a Therapist

https://nickwignall.com/improve-your-relationships/

nickwignall.com

6

Key Ideas

See Relationships Like A Therapist

Relationships nowadays are regularly in the doldrums, with certain factors that tend to ruin them. These same factors can be ‘reverse-engineered’ to help us strengthen and improve these relations.

Seeing people like a therapist does is a powerful way to bond with your partner, and have good relations with your children and your boss.

Validate, Not Solve

When someone talks about their problems, we are jumping in the problem-solving mode straight away. While dealing with people, this approach can backfire. A better approach is to just listen and validate their struggles, make them feel heard and understood.

Actions Have Underlying Functions

Many times, the external appearance of behaviour isn’t the full story and has underlying functions. It is just a symptom and not the problem.

Example: When a teenager is mad for no reason, it helps to understand the underlying problems they usually have in this age, and be compassionate.

Look For Triggers

Sometimes our behaviour is tied to invisible environmental triggers we have around us, the habits and routines that we no longer realize. We need to be aware of these triggers that set our behaviour in motion.

Example: A certain morning routine like listening to the news can make us late for our work.

Focus On The Positive

Differential reinforcement is a method in which instead of focusing on bad behaviour, we intentionally celebrate good behaviour. Simply ignoring the negative makes us stop feeding it with attention, injecting constructive positivity in your actions, rather than being critical and negative.

Be Vulnerable

Being vulnerable in a relationship provides it with trust, intimacy and mutual admiration, as the partner is comfortable sharing everything with you. 

Opening up with the pain you may be feeling makes the other person reciprocate, as he or she is able to understand your insecurity and less-than-perfect human aspects.

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Be Relentless

Sarah Linden is the least self-aware television detective.

Her dedication to her work and stubbornness are unbeatable. She never gives up. Even though she fails in many aspects of her life — like being a mother. But, she keeps showing up and trying to do better. She tries again, fails again, and fails better.

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Interdependence

Being dependent on another person can be unhealthy. Independence, taken to an extreme, can actually get in the way of us being able to connect emotionally with others in a meaningful way.&nbs...

Codependency

A codependent person tends to rely heavily on others for their sense of self and well-being. There is an enmeshed sense of responsibility to another person to meet their needs and/or for their partner to meet all of their needs to feel okay about who they are.

Why Interdependence Is Healthy

Interdependence involves a balance of self and others within the relationship, recognizing that both partners are working to be present and meet each other's physical and emotional needs in appropriate and meaningful ways.

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You focus more on what's wrong

... rather than what's right.

You can focus on what a lazy, forgetful, good-for-nothing partner you have or you can see them as a wonderful and loving partne...

You'd rather be right

... than in love. Even though it may seem justified when your partner falls short or makes a mistake, choosing a righteous response will only damage trust and create lingering resentment. 

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. It builds up appreciation, good will and a desire to do even better to please you next time.

Don't make it about you
  • Acknowledge that your partner has needs that also deserve to be met. Do your best to be the one who can help them meet their needs better than anyone else. 
  • When you take things personally and get your feelings hurt too easily, it closes off communication, makes problem-solving nearly impossible and leaves you both at risk. Look for the common ground instead of the insult.

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Unresolved conflicts

The idea that couples must communicate and resolve all of their problems is a myth. The truth is, trying to resolve a conflict can sometimes create more problems than it fixes.

Being honest

The last person you should ever have to censor yourself with is the person you love.

It’s important to make something more important in your relationship than merely making each other feel good all of the time. The feel-good stuff happens when you get the other stuff right.

Being willing to end it

Romantic sacrifice is idealized in our culture. 

Sometimes the only thing that can make a relationship successful is ending it at the appropriate time, before it becomes too damaging. And the willingness to do that allows us to establish the necessary boundaries to help ourselves and our partner grow together.

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Brené Brown

“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people mi..."

Brené Brown
Being vulnerable
Vulnerability is a double-edged sword. Those who protect themselves to avoid getting hurt, fail to appreciate intimacy and close relationships.

Everyone is vulnerable, no matter how much they try to avoid it. We are born vulnerable and stay that way for our entire childhood. Our relationship with vulnerability is something we are acquainted with, yet abandon as we merge into adulthood.

Vulnerability = courage
Vulnerability is an act of courage because you merge with your authentic self, instead of hiding behind a facade to appease others.

To embrace vulnerability as your greatest strength, you will need to become aware of your pain points. The paintings of Rembrandt are no less beautiful because of its flaws. It is upon examining it up close that you recognise the defects, while ignoring the complete picture.

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Communication needs improvement if:
  • You are having trouble getting through to your spouse; you talk about the same issue over and over again without coming to an agreement.
  • You seem unable to have a decent conversation...
Just Communicate

It is difficult to discuss some sensitive subjects, and we are tempted to avoid them. Other times we simply expect our partners to know what we are doing, thinking or what we want.

It is much better to get things out in the open regularly rather than waiting to have big rows that might damage your relationship.

Listen actively

Be curious about your partner’s point of view rather than trying to anticipate every situation. Active listening involves:

  • Paying attention to your partner.
  • Tolerating your silence.
  • Paying attention to your partner’s nonverbal communication.
  • Reflecting and paraphrasing what your partner is saying: I hear you say you feel angry when I ….. Is that what you are saying?

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Understand your attachment style

We come out of our family of origin with a blueprint of how we attach to others. The closer someone is to another person, the greater the likelihood that their attachment style can becom...

Identify your triggers

Journal about the experiences in your relationship that trigger behaviors you experience as self-sabotaging. Ask yourself: What was happening? What did you feel at the time? What were you afraid of? How likely is it that the outcome you feared would happen?

Having an awareness of what triggers these behaviors can prepare us for the inevitable conflicts that arise.

Be mindful of your behavior

Insecurity in relationships is inevitable because everybody has issues to work on.

It’s critical to know what yours are. With this insight, a person can then stop negative behaviors, learn to tolerate the discomfort, and engage in alternative and more healthy behavior.

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Getting To The Root Of Your Reluctance

If you find it difficult to share your past experiences, ask yourself why you are reluctant to open up. Getting to the root of the reluctance is key.

Work Out Your Feelings First

Before you talk to your partner about something difficult, find the right words to express it first. Until you can verbalize it, it remains unknown to you and to your partner.

If you do not feel safe enough to talk through these issues, consider journaling, or talking with a counsellor until you are clear about how you are feeling.

Open Up In Small Steps

When you decide to open up, start by taking small steps to test the waters first.

The more you practice and see that you can do it, the easier it will get for you to open up.

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A “power imbalance” in a relationship

Power in relationships is the ability of each person in the relationship to influence each other and direct the relationship.

Being in control makes people feel good and may place the ...

Negative relationship dynamics

  • The demand-withdrawal dynamic. One partner seeks change, discussion and a resolution to issues within the relationship, while the other partner is withdrawn, and tries to avoid the issues.
  • The distancer-pursuer dynamic. One person tries to achieve a certain degree of intimacy with their partner, while the other considers this affection to be "smothering."
  • The fear-shame dynamic. The fear and insecurity of one partner would bring out the shame and avoidance in the other. 

Positive power struggle

Not all power struggles are destructive. Some types of power struggles allow growth within the relationship and encourage a deeper understanding and respect for each other.

While it is still a struggle, by the end of it, you have reached an understanding about which lines can be crossed, which not, and how much each partner is able to compromise.

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