Communicating clearly is a relationship essential, whether it be professional or personal. At times, however, it’s more powerful to show vs. tell. When it feels like everything is going wrong, tensions are high, everyone is sensitive and stressed out, it might be best to stop talking about it. Play a mind trick on yourself: ignore the problem and instead give more love. This may seem like an impossible, perhaps even a ridiculous ask, but stay with me here. Just for a day, or a couple of days, or even for a week — try ignoring the problem and embodying the change you want to see. This isn’t a Jekyll and Hyde thing. This is about making room for a MINDSHIFT. You see, we are constantly being told what to do and when to do it, and why it went wrong! At home, at work, in the media, etc., and an overburdened brain will shut down. Your mind won’t be productive and it will definitely not resolve conflict in this state.
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein
In other words, the mind that created the problem can’t solve it. As the temperature goes up, we are more likely to allow our perceptions and narratives to revert to old and unhelpful habits, preventing the brain from producing helpful solutions. This is when we need a break and we can choose to find an alternative way out.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
The mindset training tools below are about action: walking the walk, showing love + being a leader in your relationships. I’m asking you to set an example of: how you love, how you want to be loved, and how you can love even when things get hard. Listen, if you can do this in crisis, then you will be a powerhouse the rest of the time.
Model it: Walk the Walk
It is much harder for the brain to create a new mental map (of ideas or behaviours), than it is to model one already presented. To create new behaviours requires a lot of attention and energy, and when resources are low this is not the brain’s first choice. This is why by choosing to model the behaviour first, you are demonstrating love + leadership. You are helping the other person’s brain out. Instead of saying what you don’t want, clearly model what you do want. Instead of explaining how you want to be treated, clearly model that behaviour. Take the time to clearly understand your needs, and then walk the walk yourself. Model it.
Modelling this form of behaviour is not necessarily easier for you in the short term. This, in fact, can be hard work. But in the long term, this approach will help transform your relationship dynamics by influencing behaviour change. This approach shows the “other” (your family member, team member, community member, etc) what type of behaviour is acceptable and expected — from a loving place. It shows them that you will show up, even when things are hard, and that you are willing to do the work. Once you consistently demonstrate that one can choose to show up to challenges this way, you are influencing their brain to mimic those behaviours in a less energy intensive and productive way because their brain has a map to follow. This approach — do as I do — creates fundamental change in all relationships.
Approach your relationship modelling love, respect and leadership. Embody the reality that you want and your brain will follow!
You want things to change?
Ask yourself “what can I do?” How do I need to be loved? How do I want to love? What does a healthy relationship look like? What do I love doing with my partner? Make a list of these things and then do it, model this behaviour with an open heart and see what happens.
Acknowledge it: Show the Love
Part two of this mind experiment is spending time only commenting on what is going right. Look for the good, and when you see it, say it, acknowledge it. Again this might seem impossible when all you see is conflict, but I challenge you, try to find the positive, start small, and make a note of it. Show love to all the areas that you appreciate, show love to all the things that make your day better, consciously show the love.
Doing this consistently gives the brain bursts of rewarding chemicals that will ultimately shape behaviours more quickly and more enjoyably. By focusing on what is going well you are literally rewiring your brain and that of your partners.
When things aren’t going our way the first thing we often do is point fingers. We look only for flaws, and this can taint our perspective, and cause us to miss the positives. Looking for what is going well is an active mindset choice. It’s interrupting an old pattern and accessing your ability to look for, and focus on, the things that will add value for your growth and help you through the challenges ahead.
You want things to be better?
Ask yourself “what is going well”? What made me smile today? Where did I witness love? What did I really appreciate? Make a list of these things and then acknowledge them with gratitude and see what happens.
When you feel deprived, need love, feel frustrated and tired, applying these mindset tools may seem like I’m asking you to climb a mountain with a broken leg. Yes, there is an inherent challenge associated with these tools. But there is also an opportunity. Empower your thinking by deciding to help your brain and to train your mind to powerfully guide you through conflict. This process isn’t about someone else. It’s about you. It’s about how you love. It’s about you learning to access the best part of yourself. It’s about you setting your mindset to use your best self to make decisions and work through challenges. Do and act as you want to be treated. Show how you love, how you want to be loved, and what love means to you. Act in a way you respect and in a way you want others to treat you. Live by example, show the love!
AYLA VEJDANI, MA, ACC
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