Latest posts by Joanna Martin (see all)
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Most of us have at least one relationship in our lives we’d like to change in some way. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about, maybe even deeply love, the other person. But when interactions start to feel like a pattern you’re stuck in, it can be incredibly restrictive. If you want to find a new relationship dynamic but aren’t sure where to start, here’s an approach you can try.
When roles become restricting
Let’s start by looking at the kinds of situations when you can find yourself getting “stuck” in a certain dynamic.
For example, you might find that you’re constantly the one who’s mothering your group of girlfriends. Sure, you’re happy to be the designated driver once in a while. But lately it seems like you’re forever organizing things, booking cabs, holding coats and keeping an eye on anyone who’s had one too many after-work drinks.
Isn’t it time you were able to let your hair down for once?
For Madeleine, a self-employed writer, it was her relationship with her partner that felt like it needed a shakeup. Since becoming parents, it was starting to feel as though their life had become an endless to-and-fro of childcare, admin, and work.
“We’ve been together for more than a decade and have always had a lot of fun. Suddenly, our interactions felt like they’d become so functional: who’s looking after the toddler, what errands need doing, did you remember to call so-and-so… and yet when we tried to make changes, I found myself becoming defensive – and we’d find ourselves back in the same place.”
For you, it might be a totally different relationship where the dynamic needs to shift: Your boss, your colleagues, even your kids.
What relationship can you think of where you’re treading the same old path, no matter what you try?
Want to change a relationship dynamic? Try this
If you’ve noticed a sense of frustration creeping into one of your relationships, it might be time to try a different tactic when it comes to shifting things up.
Often, we can find ourselves focusing on what we wish the other person would change. If only your friends weren’t so selfish, or your boss so demanding, you’d be golden, right?
Or we focus on what’s not working in our interactions with the other person. And end up talking ourselves round in circles as we dissect our frustrations, and feel as though we’re getting nowhere.
But in any relationship, there are always two people involved – and one of them is you. That’s who you have the greatest power to change. And making that change doesn’t actually need to involve the other person at all.
The great news is, when you begin to think about shifting the way you’re behaving, it takes the pressure off trying to make the other person change who they are. (Which, let’s face it, can be an uphill battle).
Does this mean you have to stop being you?
In a word, no. It’s not about changing who you are – it’s about being a different version of yourself, so that you can start making a stand for a healthier way of interacting. And when you start to behave differently, those around you inevitably respond in a different way.
Perhaps the ever-accommodating big sister starts to say “no” once in a while – your sibling will have to figure out an alternative.
Or the workaholic supermum decides she isn’t going to pile on the pressure by taking responsibility for her team’s results and the school bake sale. Someone you might never have thought of might decide to step into your usual place.
Learning to step into a different version of yourself – to create boundaries, change expectations and start standing up for how you want to be treated – is a life-changing skill.
If you know you could do with being a bit firmer when it comes to setting expectations and drawing boundaries, check out Enough is Enough: our free guide to gracefully setting unshakeable boundaries. Click here to download your free copy.
Using the PowerTypes to find a new relationship dynamic
If you’re not quite sure what dynamic’s playing out with that one difficult person, the Women’s PowerTypes™ are a fast way to get a handle on the different “roles” you’re playing in your life.
Warrioress, Sorceress, Queen, Lover and Mother. None of us are simply one PowerType – we’re all a blend of all 5. You’re at your most powerful when you can navigate smoothly between them all, effortlessly calling on the one that’s most appropriate for any given moment.
Often, when we feel stuck in a relationship dynamic, it’s because we’re using one PowerType more than the others. Rather than having access to all your different “selves”, you’re locked in one way of behaving.
Madeleine knew that, since becoming a mother, her Mother PowerType had really come to the fore. When it came to her romantic relationship, she knew Lover would be important to nurture, but there was a surprising PowerType that she discovered was equally vital.
“Warrioress was one of the lowest scores on my PowerTypes profile. She’s all about playful, youthful energy – and I realized that I’d really been missing that in my relationship too. We’d always loved going dancing, so reconnecting to music I love to move to, and channelling some of the playful energy I’m enjoying with my son into my relationship with my husband, really turned things around.”
Change the part you’re playing, and the script will shift
If you want to find a new relationship dynamic, start by thinking about the role you might be playing, and what might feel like a more fulfilling alternative.
Making small commitments to bring out a different side to you – listening to a particular track, moving in a different way physically – might have a bigger effect than you think.
Have you found yourself stuck in a relationship rut? What helped you to change the dynamic? Let us know in the comments below.
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