When we perform an action, we are doing it to meet an emotional need whether conscious or unconscious. Have you ever asked yourself how the action became a behavior? Repeated action becomes a habit, habit becomes the behavior.
The habit will stick based on how well that need was met from taking that action. Thus, forming a behavior. Meeting our emotional needs is what we are wired to do; if the action didn’t meet the need, we will try a different route. I want to explore how creating awareness around our needs could be the way to transform a Co-Dependent Behavior into a Leading Lady behavior.
First, to identify the need, ask yourself these questions, “What is the Emotional need I am trying to meet?” and “Is it short term, instant gratification relief I want, or do I want to see long term gain toward Leading Lady behavior?”
Short term is thinking that something outside of us, some external “person, place, or thing,” is going to meet our emotional needs. For short term emotional needs; think instant gratification. Some short-term needs could be wanting to feel acceptance from others through justification, proving our points, criticizing others, or validation. Co-Dependent behaviors are ways we show up to meet the short-term emotional need.
There are also long-term emotional needs. Actions we take to meet these needs may seem counterproductive, at first, but do provide the most gain in the long-term. These needs relate more to finding your purpose, learning self-appreciation, and feeling valuable and complete.
It is through taking the actions that meet the emotional need that we receive “rewards” which soothe (or bolster) our ego. Co-Dependent behavior, such as justifying our actions to others, exposing someone’s faults, and the need to prove we are right is a product of the short-term actions we take to meet the need.
Becoming aware of these needs will help you to create stronger and more vibrant relationships. Showing up and meeting your own needs for the long term with nothing to prove to anyone versus wanting the person, place, or thing to meet your needs can provide a long-lasting inner peace.
A great place to explore how you are doing in meeting your emotional needs is becoming aware of when something “triggers you.” Feeling triggered can be a perfect awareness tool by providing an opportunity for you to say, “I feel triggered, so what emotional need am I wanting to be met?”
Here is a “sneaky” thought we can encounter when transforming from Co-dependent to Leading Lady: we might feel triggered and because we want the ego boost and to feel better, we quickly change our thinking and create new thoughts to generate a more desirable feeling. We want to change the thought because we don’t like how it makes us feel. This is where I want to offer that you receive the original thought—all the ugliness of it—hold it, and digest what this trigger is trying to tell you. Then release it when you have accepted it. This step is important and part of the process to find your authentic self.
Have patience with yourself and realize that as a human we are perfectly imperfect. Living above the line by choosing the long-term gain versus the short-term gratification is forming Leading Lady behaviors, generating peace within and comfort when in stormy waters.
The next three behaviors I will discuss have a lot to do with the way you choose to hold space with others. When I speak of holding space: boundaries, comply, and reactive are ways we interconnect. By recognizing these behaviors, you can exchange them for their healthier counterparts, and grow new habits that offer deeper relationships with others and with yourself.
Boundaries is a word that is thrown around in our world with very little direction of what a boundary is and how to form them. Healthy boundaries might seem rigid for a codependent, because we oscillate from being strict to having no rules, to demanding boundaries and having none, and build up resentment because of the whole process.
I want to offer instead of making a list of your boundaries that you begin by developing the character trait of Integrity. What thought do you find yourself having when you hear the word integrity? How do you see yourself showing up in the world when you use integrity as your compass? When you come from integrity you are making decisions based on your principles and values rather than comparing yourself to others. Integrity is doing what you view as right regardless of what others might think, say, or do.
As a society, it is important that we communicate. We are communicating who we are through our actions even sometimes without saying a word. That is why for a codependent I want to use the word Comply as the description for our communication skills. Since we don’t know what we really want we just comply, even if later we feel resentment for not speaking up. I want to offer that instead of complying you can choose to decide. What thoughts come to your mind when you think of making a decision? I know growing from comply to decisiveness is a big jump so I want to offer that you can say things like “I am becoming decisive in my responses” or “It is possible that I can make a decision that benefits me.” When you choose to make decisions, you are cultivating your power that can help you become a more confident communicator.
When we are not clear on our boundaries and we choose to comply, then act in a reactive manner instead of listening to our loved ones. We respond with jabs and poor word choice and get into a defensive mind trap. Being reactive means we are not listening to the other person, or we are projecting our thoughts onto others. Choosing instead to show up with self-discipline will enhance your communications. you will begin to be less reactive and show up in ways that you are not trying to “prove” or “explain” anything. Being self-disciplined, you will have little need to raise your voice to get your point across, instead, you are open and receptive. Self- discipline allows you to take care of yourself as you allow others to show up any way they see fit.
As you work on replacing boundaries for Integrity, complying to decision making, and reactive to self-discipline your relationships will start to have more meaning to them. Try finding actions that you could see yourself taking when you are displaying these new behaviors. Communication is important and the clearer you become, the more you will be open to let relationships play out as they will. Developing Integrity, decision making, and self-discipline as character traits, and integrating them into who you are will slowly change the way you see relationships.
Learning to believe that the impossible is possible is just the beginning. As your coach, I can help you transform these traits into the inevitable you, and as you struggle in your growth, I will be right beside you. If you are ready to enhance your relationships, then let’s schedule your coaching consult today.
Do you find it hard to make decisions? What evidence or information do you think is lacking that keeps you from making a decision? When making decisions, the brain likes to point out the reasons why something is a good or bad idea; we may need more information, or we need to wait for someone else or something else to happen so we can decide. Yet, even when that something happens, our brain could still find reasons to not make a choice.
You have already made many decisions in your lifetime. If you are reading this blog you made the decision to read it. When you are done reading it you will get to decide what you think of it. Some decisions like what spice to use in a recipe, or what road to turn down give you rapid results so you can determine the significance of your choice. Other decisions, such as who you choose to marry and if you want kids could take more time to provide the information needed to determine if your choice was a good one or not and whether you would do it again. We all go through changes in life as we evolve, so our views most likely change as life progresses. Keep in mind that you get to offer thoughts about the change and apply meaning to those changes.
But, what if every decision you make going forward was one that you could look back on and say, “Wow, I learned a lot from that decision.” Making a decision is defined as a conclusion or resolution made after consideration. Below are two different scenarios on buying a new car. Which scenario is more reflective of you?
You did your homework, and this is the car you wanted. You bought it for a good price, and you feel confident about the person and dealership that you bought it from. You swear that more people are driving this car since you bought it. You even start seeing the color of your new car on other cars and in unpredicted items that you never saw before. This was the right car for you!
You are apprehensive if it was a good purchase. You made a decision, unsure about the dealership and salesman, you start to hear rumors that they are not an honest dealership. You see the same car and model on the side of the street, broken down. Others that are on the road have dents in them. You begin to question if it was a good idea and start to think maybe you need to trade it in for a different car. This car must be a lemon!
When we make a decision believing it was a good one, our brain will begin to work to show us why the choice was such a good idea. On the flip side of that, our brain will also offer evidence of why something is a bad idea when we are unsure and find evidence to prove why you shouldn’t have made that choice. Making an informed decision builds self-confidence and allows you the opportunity to learn while giving your brain a chance to find solutions. When we get stuck in indecision, we find more problems and feel unsure, often spinning with unresolved thoughts.
There is the option to give our brain the chance to make a decision and allow that decision to unravel naturally as we manage our responses instead of reacting. Seeing every decision-making opportunity as an occasion to learn something about life could give your brain the chance to open up and allow trust in yourself to make more confident decisions.
When you catch yourself feeling hurt because someone didn’t do, say, or react in a way you would have liked them to, it might be time for you to take note that you are “holding a manual” for that person. In coach-talk we call having an expectation of how someone should behave “holding a manual” for that person. When they choose not to behave the way we want them to, we find ourselves giving them the silent treatment, yelling at them, or holding resentment towards them. That is holding a manual and also thought of as having expectations.
Culture can give us certain expectations to uphold—for example, we are taught a mom should be loving no matter what, a dad should always want to protect his family, and children should obey their parents. We, as women, may also have expectations toward our husbands. I have thought much about this, as I have held many expectations for many people in my life, my husband, too. I’ve thought, “my husband should support me, he should believe in my dreams and compliment me often.” The manual I want to explore about dropping is that of our husband. Once we can drop the manual our relationship with ourselves and them will improve.
Let’s explore a favorite movie of mine, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Toula wants to do things her way, discovering what makes sense to her for her life. It isn’t easy as the Greek culture is embedded in her family and stepping out of it will be a challenge. She doesn’t want to completely let it all go, she just wants to make her own path and do things her way.
During a conversation with her mother, Maria, she is told, “Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” Although this is funny, and I still laugh when I hear it, its humor does not detract from it’s the relatability of this statement to many women. I want to suggest that allowing your husband to be who he is and you to come to the table with your suggestions could be a way to promote unity as a couple and drop the idea of wanting to control one another.
A book I recommend reading to assist with this is The 5 Love Languages. Read this not so you can tell your partner what you need, but so you can meet yourown needs. When we are demanding or expectant of others to meet our needs, we will never truly see them for who they really are. Why? Because we are so busy trying to change them to what we think they need to be for us.
Ask yourself the questions, “Do I really know what I want? Do I meet my own needs on the regular?
Once you know your love languages you will know how to talk to yourself and the way you need to treat yourself. When we have met our own needs, we are able to show up for our spouse with our cup full and we give because we truly want to and not from a place of expectations.
Over time, in his own time, your spouse will begin to give to you in ways that might not be your language, but you will see the effort and appreciate him all the more. It’s that much more beautiful when a husband decides to do the dishes, even when it’s not how we do it, not because we told him to, but because he decided he wants to.
I still make requests; in fact, I make a lot of requests. But, I don’t hold on to them with expectations. Dropping my husband’s manual is a process and a process I believe to be worth working on daily. When you drop the manual, you are allowing your husband to be who he wants to be and loving him for who he is.
Boundaries are important for us to have and understand. We don’t necessarily need a lot of rules in our lives. If we build up too many walls, we run the risk of isolating ourselves from people and opportunities. Keeping in mind that what you value is important to you and that is the reason you create boundaries. A friend that is always late when you value time, having a mother show up unannounced when a priority of yours is keeping a schedule, these are a few examples of boundary issues.
Clearly expressing boundaries needs to happen when a boundary that you hold has been crossed. When someone does something that infringes on you, emotionally or physically, it is not automatic that they know they had crossed a boundary. Most of us don’t know what other people’s boundaries are. Take a look at my blog last week as it explored the topic on creating principles and priorities. Knowing what you value in life will help you set healthier boundaries.
Here are a few tips to remember when you feel it is time to set a boundary due to events that are interfering with your principles:
Creating a boundary when frustrated, mad, or angry is not the right time. Get your thoughts down on paper and decide what you would like to say from a place of love and peace after you’ve had some time to think. It can make all the difference.
Make the request and let them know what act they are doing that is infringing on you. Then share with them the consequence if they choose not to comply with your request.
Here are a couple examples of things you could say once you’ve decided on a boundary:
“The kids and I love it when you come to the house, that is why I am asking you to call before you come over so I can make sure it is a good time for us to have you. If you do not call the door will be locked if you show up unannounced.”
“I know that you run late, at times, and I am looking forward to having lunch with you. Just know that if you are more than 15 minutes late, I will be leaving. I won’t be mad; I just won’t be waiting longer than that.”
Lastly, I want to talk on the topic of eliminating people from our lives, as this is not a way of creating boundaries. There are occasions when people are physically and mental harmful to you and in those cases removing yourself might be best. However, I do want to offer you a thought; what if those who cause the most frustration in you are really here to help you grow? Instead, try to ask yourself, “what can I learn from this relationship, how will listening to this person allow me to grow?”
The key to healthy boundaries is in the request and in the follow through. When you follow through with what you find to be important you are showing respect to yourself and respect to others through your communications. If creating boundaries is new to you, realize that creating boundaries now could be challenging or they could be liberating…the choice is yours.
I was coaching a client and gave her an assignment to write down her top 5 priorities for her next session. At the start of the following session she shared those priorities. Then I asked her how her week went. When she described to me what she did with her time it became apparent that not one of her priorities was represented in her daily activities.
When I relayed my observation to her, she was shocked and said she hadn’t even realized she wasn’t including her priorities. Now to her credit this is not uncommon. In fact, I would say it is more common than not common, as I am guilty of this as well.
Just like my client I have found myself feeling a little frustrated because I was not accomplishing things that I had thought were a priority. What I found was that until I became clear on my Principles or what I value most and realized that priorities change depending on my current goals, I would always feel frustrated by this. Making sure my priorities aligned with my principles helped eliminate the guilt of feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing the important things. It also helped me focus on creating a life around what mattered most.
Let me explain further…
We have a desire that this person, place, or thing needs to be a priority. We have thoughts of what we think should be our priorities then we have daily tasks that sneak in if we don’t have a clear view of our principles. Unless our thoughts are matched to our principles then to our priorities, we can get stuck. We often find ourselves going in circles on the infamous hamster wheel, getting frustrated and not getting the results we want because we are so busy doing task work that isn’t based on our principles.
For example, I value Time. I used to think Family and Community were two of my main Principles, but these are not within my control. When I dove deeper into creating a life on purpose, I discovered that valuing something not within your control, like other people, is more of a priority and not a Principle. I then clarified my top three Principles to be Time, Health, and Spirituality; all three of which are within my control.
In Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People his first three habits all have to do with the “inside job” or managing your mind, personal vision, personal leadership, and personal management. This book is a good example of building a foundation of your Principles before creating your priorities.
But what do these priorities look like? Completing my weekly schedule on Sunday evening is a priority because of my Principle of Time. As I fill in my calendar, I add in time for grocery shopping, meal planning and exercise. Some examples of priorities that represent my Principle of Health would be spending time with my husband on a hike, taking our dog to the dog park together, or going for a walk with a friend.
My Principle of Spirituality is represented by tasks such as scheduling time for meditation/prayer, reading scripture or other materials and sharing what I learn with my boys or husband, and doing some service work or giving to nonprofit organizations that I support.
Everyday tasks such as work, paying bills, housework, car maintenance, etc. are also penciled into my calendar, but these are just mundane tasks that need to be completed. Because I value Time so much, I make certain to not “over-pack” my schedule and leave “blank space” for those unexpected things that can happen. If I don’t plan for it, I will become subject to it.
Once you decide to be clear with your values and prioritize tasks accordingly, along with taking the time to purposely work on your thoughts, your world will become a more peaceful place. Instead of trying to fit people and activities in based on reacting to others’ priorities, create a life based on your principles and priorities, thereby creating a life on purpose.