Relationship Success – It’s not Personal
As a relationship coach, I am and always will be deeply immersed in studying human behavior. I read the books. I read scientific literature. After it all, I have identified a common theme as to why relationships die or thrive. There is an underlying catalyst that goes unnoticed by even the most acclaimed experts. We will discuss the reason for that, and we will look at this catalyst. It all starts with how we perceive the world. The catalyst is how we personalize our interactions with life.
I write this article because I am always looking to better my understanding of romantic relationships. What I have noticed is that fantastic relationship advice is absurdly easy to come by. We can all access the internet and find simple to understand and (importantly) free advice. With this abundance of information that is available, why do relationships still fail, and do so at higher rates than when the internet was not existent or not widely available?
Humans are all programmed. We are programmed from inception. This programming determines how we interact with the world. The programming works very similarly to how computer programming works. When a command is given to a computer or software, a certain output is guaranteed. Humans operate on the same principle. When we become adults, we are left with a tremendous amount of programming that operates behind the scenes, in our subconscious minds. To a large extent, we have very little control, because our total participation with life is dependent upon the results of our conscious and unconscious efforts playing out.
When an individual receives an input, like an insult from an angry spouse, we can predict what the output will be. A person who receives an insult will tend to reciprocate with anger. There are alternatives, and they all depend on the person’s subconscious programming. We can all access any relationship advice (free or otherwise), but it will all be for naught when the subconscious programming plays out. The programming will cause a negative emotional reaction from the individual that receives the insult, and this occurs far faster than the conscious mind has any ability to evaluate the situation. That is the real problem that undermines romantic relationships.
Again, even if we are armed with all of the great relationship advice that exists, the subconscious programming will output a negative response first. This is why 80% of couples do not experience benefits when they participate in marriage or couples counseling, with most of those ending in divorce. The problem is not the inputs, like the insult from an angry spouse. If we are unable to control ourselves, then how can we expect to control others? We can’t guide others to avoid giving our programs negative inputs and instead to give positive inputs. We have to change our programming.
If we do not change our programming, then we can expect more of the same. As such, an insult will always result in a particular response from our subconscious. Were we to make modifications to ourselves, we would be able to actually choose what response is more beneficial to the situation. Imagine you received an insult and it registered no emotional pain. This is critical for readers to understand. When inputs no longer register a negative emotional reaction, others tend to stop pressing those buttons. The concept is absurdly simple. If an individual put one dollar into a vending machine, pressed the key button for a can of soda and received nothing, they would eventually stop inserting a dollar and pressing a button.
Humans are extremely predictable, and as a coach, this reality is the main component to my proprietary theories and concepts. Relationship success depends on how we personalize our interactions with life. When individuals learn to no longer take things personally, especially in a negative manner, they can navigate almost any obstacle that life presents to us.
I always tell clients that relationships make all of their gains when they handle conflicts in a healthy manner. Individuals need almost no guidance when they are happy, which is why the relationship was almost effortless when partners were in courtship. There are two routes that can be taken, and each plays out, as in a chain reaction. Individuals that personalize negativity will reciprocate in similar fashion (predictably). The alternative leads couples to a point of utter bliss, and they get there by taking the path of zero conflict.
As implied, the underlying problem in relationships is that individuals become victims and act upon the emotional wounds that are formed. What happens in relational conflict is that both individuals feel that they are the (singular) victim. When one of the individuals feels victimized, they will ensure that the other person receives some sort of punishment. What gets lost in all of this is that this actually compounds the problem. The individual that instigated the conflict felt victimized first. When they are not well received and are blamed or punished, they will have their victimhood justified (in their minds).
If individuals were to understand that the conflict instigator was in pain, then a tremendous amount of relief would ensue, rather than the moment escalating. This speaks to the need for empathy, one of the five Emotional Intelligence skills. But I call for something more. I call for what I call Beyond Emotional Intelligence (BEI). I advise and teach individuals to master how to no longer take their life (specifically romantic) interactions personally. When individuals master the Personalization concept, they no longer need to control external factors. They have the ability to control the underlying subconscious programming, eliminating the automatic negative reactions.
I indicated at the beginning of this article that this underlying catalyst goes almost completely unnoticed by the professional community. The reason is that they, personally, are unaware that they have control over their subconscious programming. This is no minor critique that I proffer, mind you. The traditional and typical relationship advice, counseling included, revolves around needing to control others. It has the illusion of working, directly related to how controllable others are. Controlling others only works to a certain extent, which results in that failure rate of marriage counseling of 80%. We go beyond this when we focus our efforts internally, rather than externally. The reward is not only staying married but realizing a level of bliss that most cannot fathom, especially after the infatuation period has ended.
If you want to master life, especially in your romantic relationship, the answer is to learn how to stop taking things personally. It isn’t a choice, as it plays out automatically, due to the programming. Your choice is to go into your source code (analogously) and work to edit it, giving you the choice to react with positive actions or none at all. Again, the reward is bliss and being able to feel deeply connected to your partner again.