Want to Fix a Relationship Issue? Check Your Mode First

 In Relationships

We all know that our interactions and relationships with other people can be challenging at times.

Maybe it’s a misunderstanding. You heard them say they were going to take the garbage out, but they thought you were offering to do it.

Maybe it’s a difference in preferences. You like things neat and tidy and it seems like they’re always leaving things out instead of putting them away.

Maybe it’s a difference in personalities. You like to spend time one-on-one with friends or family and they want to plan gatherings with larger groups.

Here’s an important lesson I’ve learned and you’ve probably learned it, too. I shouldn’t try to “fix” these issues if I’m already upset or mad. Feeling upset means I’m in my Saboteur mode, and chances are very good that my tone and words will trigger the other person’s Saboteur. They may feel attacked, and it’s natural for their defenses to kick in. Maybe they shut down. Or maybe they say angry words back to me.

Instead of addressing the issue, I’ve made things worse.

The best way to make things better is to have the discussion when I’m in my Sage mode. Now I’m feeling calm, hopeful, and much more patient. I’m able to truly listen and understand the other person’s perspective. They feel heard and validated. It’s easier to “solve” the problem.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. But here are a few things to make it easier.

  • Practice pausing and noticing your thoughts and emotions. Practice on the easy, day-to-day stuff. It will become easier to recognize when you’re in your Saboteur or Sage mode.
  • If you’re in the middle of a situation, you may need to create the opportunity to get out of your Saboteur mode. You may have to excuse yourself, or you may need to just stay quiet and keep your words to yourself until later.
  • Remind yourself that we are all imperfect humans. The other person is struggling with their own baggage.
  • Remember their good traits. It’s easy to get stuck focusing on the things about the other person that bug you.
  • Keep your positivity battery charged. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and finding ways to manage your stress and build your resilience.

Here’s to all of us getting better at using our Sage in our interactions and relationships!

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