Focus on Building the New Instead of Fighting the Old

January is all about new beginnings, and new beginnings require change. These mindful messages are designed to empower you and inspire you to make healthy changes to enhance the quality of your life and relationships.

When it comes to your romantic relationship, whether you’re trying to find a way to make it work, or struggling with how to let this relationship go, if you want results, action is required.

Last week, your call to action was through the form of questions about where you want your relationship to go. If you’re not clear on where your relationship is headed, that lack of clarity will make an already difficult situation even more difficult.

If your answers to the questions were clear and definitive, you’ve already taken a big first step in the right direction. If not, that’s okay…make the time to go back and answer those questions now. Just reading the questions, without actually answering them, won’t do you much good.

When you’re ready to take the next step toward your relationship goals, here are some ideas to consider and additional actions you can take.

Time, Energy and Attention
Change requires effort. This idea alone keeps many people stay stuck in situations they don’t want to be in. Especially if that situation has already caused a feeling of breakdown.

I know a lot of women who feel exhausted from trying to make their relationship work. It’s common for me to hear things like: I’m making all of the effort, and he just keeps doing what he’s always done. I’m so tired of trying to make things better when he’s not willing to try at all. Why do I keep doing this? I’m so tired of this!

Sound familiar? I remember feeling this way in a former relationship…and it was not good. While these types of statements may be true, continuing to put your time, energy and attention on them doesn’t help…it only makes the situation worse.

I understand that it’s sometimes beneficial to express your frustration and get it off your chest. But when you repeatedly complain about your partner’s lack of efforts, you’re focusing on what you don’t want, instead of what you do want.

So what do you want? Look back at your answers from last week’s questions to remind yourself, and choose to start focusing your time, energy and attention on that.

The Secret to Change
Socrates said: “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

This makes perfect sense, right? For example, if you and your partner argue a lot, and you want that to change, what do you think would be helpful to focus on…how often you argue and why? Or what you can do to change that? And what will your relationship feel like when you’re not arguing so much?

Maybe you don’t yet know what you can do to make effectives changes, or the thought of how hard it might be feels overwhelming. When these types of thoughts go through your mind, you feel defeated before you even start and your attention naturally wants to pull you back into the known, yet aggravating, pattern of arguing. Why? Because it feels familiar.

When your thoughts are dreading some type of change, your mind wants to go back to a feeling of familiarity. Even if your current circumstances are undesirable, they’re familiar, and that feels safer than the unfamiliar.

It’s crazy how much our minds can dominate our actions. And it’s even crazier when you realize that you’re the one feeding your mind with those dominating thoughts.

Your mind is a powerful tool that either contributes to the quality of your life or diminishes the quality of your life. And the cumulative effect of your primary thought patterns are the driving force. It may not feel like you have control over your thoughts, but you do. And once you realize this and start to change your thoughts for the better, you will notice a big difference.

Mind Focusing Exercise
For the purpose of illustration, I invite you to try this exercise the next time you’re taking a shower. Typically speaking, when showering, we’re in a more relaxed frame of mind, which makes it a bit easier to let go of the mind chatter. When you’re in the shower, you can’t check your cell phone or look at your to-do list, so you may as well focus on the present moment and appreciate the experience.

So…the next time you shower (and feel free to try this for at least a few days in a row), I want you to purposely focus your thoughts on something very specific. For example, think about how awesome it is to have running water, to have shampoo that washes your hair and soap that washes your body. Focus on how cleansing it feels to wash away yesterday’s activities and how awesome it is to be given the gift of a new day.

Try it…and see how little time it takes for your thoughts to jump to something else. Oh crap, I forgot to call so-and-so back. Oh no, I totally forgot to grab dinner when I was at the store yesterday…now I have to go back out again. My partner is so irritating, and I’m so tired of feeling stressed out.

When your mind is typically dominated by thoughts of all that’s not working in your day-to-day life, that’s where it wants to go…that’s what it’s used to thinking about. Then…when you purposely try to focus on something else, it takes effort. That’s why I’m suggesting this exercise. I want you to see how easy it is for your thoughts to gravitate toward their everyday patterns.

When you’re engaging in this exercise and you catch your thoughts being distracted from what you’re attempting to focus on (how awesome the shower is….or whatever you choose to focus on), simply refocus your thoughts on what you want to think about. If you’re like most people, you’ll have to catch your thoughts and refocus them several times…all within the time it takes to shower.

This is a simple example of how our thoughts tend to dominate our minds and how unfocused many of those thoughts are. In other words, how often you have random thoughts going through your mind with no particular focus. But the good news is…you can change that.

The key is to focus on what you do want, rather than what you don’t want. To focus on building the new, not fighting the old. In the example of you and your partner arguing a lot, ‘the new’ that you would be building is a new way of communicating. A new way of talking with each other that won’t lead to unwanted arguments.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
If you don’t know how  to do this, there are an infinite amount of resources available that will teach you how. Find a book on Amazon or at your local library that teaches the principles of healthy communication. Find a local or online workshop that focuses on this subject.

This is just one example, but the principles apply to any situation you’re wanting to improve. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You must first make a conscious choice that you want positive changes to take place in your life. And then be willing to learn how. You are far more powerful than you realize…you just need to step into that power.

Stay tuned for more mindful messages. Giving you helpful tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!

With love and support,

Catherine Dietz
Healthy Relationship Coach

P.S. If you’re struggling in your relationship and looking for support, I encourage you to take advantage of your free 30-minute Relationship Breakthrough Session. Go here for more details and to schedule your call. All you need to do is show up for the call with a willingness to know that you have the ability to make healthy changes

P.P.S. If you live in or near San Diego, I’m offering a live workshop on Wednesday, February 8. Go here for more details. I would love to see you there!