Have you heard the term "radical responsibility?"
And, it's probably the most important skill to work on if you want an amazing partnership.
Most of us worry if we take responsibility when "we didn't do anything wrong!", it's admitting defeat, and our partner won't change their behavior or take their own responsibility. We fear we will be taking the blame.
There's a problem with this line of thinking. It assumes there is someone who is right, and someone who is wrong.
The truth is, if one of you is "winning" the relationship is losing.
Radical responsibility isn’t about taking things on that aren’t ours. It doesn’t mean you don’t still feel frustrated with your partner or their actions, or hold boundaries on how they are allowed to treat you/talk to you etc.
BUT. In EVERY interaction, there are two people.
It’s so EASY to see what our partner is doing “wrong” that is “causing” us to feel some type of way. It's much harder to take responsibility for our feelings, when the catalyst was something we perceived as hurtful or unfair.
And yet, we ARE each responsible for our feelings. People can impact how we feel, 100%. I don’t buy that “no one makes you feel anything” b.s.
I think humans are connected enough that our nervous systems DO cause feelings in the people around us. This image comes to mind of a children's book, where the curmudgeonly old man grumply goes about his day, everyone around him clearly walking on eggshells. Until he meets a little boy whose whimsy is contagious.
Other's feelings impacting our own doesn't mean we can’t still be responsible for how we manage and respond to those feelings.
Perhaps someone was nasty to that grumpy man in the story. Perhaps THEY were the catalyst. But did that give him the right to pass that on to the people around him??
Radical responsibility doesn’t say, “you aren’t at fault for anything it’s all on me.” It’s about recognizing, “I can blame you all day long, but because I am NOT you, I can’t control you. I can still choose whether to respond reactively, or intentionally.”
What does intentionally responding to the negative feelings of others look like to you?
For me, it's coming up with the most generous assumption possible. I used to assume when he was being a curmudgeonly old man that he was an ass hole. This fearful, trauma part of me would show up shouting, "see! I told you! It was a mistake! He definitely doesn't love you! He's awful!"
And you can imagine how I'd respond from there. 😅
When my partner is a curmudgeonly old man these days, I assume something happened, not that he is an ass hole. I remove his actions and feelings from who he is as a person.
In my house this sounds like, "You sound really grumpy. Want to talk about it?" or "Hi mudge! (my nickname for him when he's being a curmudgeon) It's nice of you to visit. I love you. What are you needing?"
What works for us won't necessarily work for you. What is the most generous assumption you can make about your partner when they're not at their best? How do you want to respond to that grumpy, angry, or child-like part of them?
Intentionality is key. Come up with a phrase for yourself, and give it a whirl. Let's see what generosity does for you. Even if it doesn't change your partner, I bet you'll feel better about yourself, and that's not a small thing. 💕
And if this is all feeling hopeless or slippery, don't give up. I'm here for you, and you are worth your time and energy. There's a lifetime ahead of you to stay stuck, or to build the relationship you want and deserve.
Set up a call and I'll talk you through how to start: https://calendly.com/linnealogas/discovery-call
Your relationship cheerleader,