No shaming. No blaming. No criticizing. It’s what was preached to me, as an Imago client, it’s what was reiterated to me as an Imago trainee and it’s what I implement as one of the standard guidelines for all my couples, ESPECIALLY when they are in my office. My couples hear me say it over and over again, because I mean it and I believe in it and, we learn best through repetition – it has to sink in at some point. It’s not always easy – I certainly get that, but honestly –what is easy these days? Relationships are hard work and they require a lot more than love. If you want them to last, they require conscious intention, as opposed to reactivity, which is a breeding ground for conflict and power struggles. For some reason, the majority of us generally have an easier time being conscious and intentional with strangers, bosses and co-workers, clients, friends, etc. but when it comes to our significant others, why do we expect whatever excuse we create to give us permission to be anything other than deliberate and kind? There are a million excuses – I’ve had a long day. I’m tried. I’m hungry, There isn’t enough time,. etc. Although, I’ve been guilty of using them myself, I don’t buy any of them (and neither does my wife) because we also feel many of these things when we are at work and those excuses aren’t even considered. We know that we have to act a certain way at work and in other professional and even social situations – why do we slack at home? Doesn’t your S.O. deserve the loving and nurturing – or at the very least, respectful qualities that you give to others throughout the day? Doesn’t he or she deserve kindness, compassion and connection? I hate when I’m reactive and I don’t treat my wife that way I wholeheartedly want to treat her and how she deserves to be treated. I’ve learned – you really do get what you give and if for no other reason, give it to get it. Eventually, it will become habit and if we all begin doing it, the world will eventually become a much more peaceful place.
So getting back to the notion of no shaming, no blaming and no criticizing…what does this really even mean and why? It means: stop pointing the finger and start taking responsibility for your own actions because that is really all that you can control, and once you begin to do this consistently, the reactivity naturally begins to dissipate – there is no need for it because now you get that defensiveness escalates the other and acting consciously and intentionally de-escalates the other. This was a really hard concept for me to buy into especially, in those moments, when it was so clear, to me, that I was justified in one of these behaviors. Isn’t it interesting how we can always justify our behaviors even when they do not reflect our best selves or our values? I think the concept of ‘no blaming’ was the hardest for me to wrap my head around. I’ve gotten so much better, but I still struggle with it sometimes. However, now, I can see (usually afterwards) why it isn’t useful. For instance, I’m so guilty of blaming my wife for not getting whatever task (I’m doing in the moment) done because she asked me to do something for her. What am I crazy? Who am I to blame her for not completing my own to-do list?? I don’t have to drop what I’m doing immediately to do whatever she just asked me to do. And, even if I did because of a time-sensitivity, it’s not her fault that I waited until the last minute to do my own stuff. When I blame her, I immediately create a disconnect. She is not going to feel like I am her partner, willing and interested in working with her if I act that way and ultimately, that is not what I want. It’s going to make her feel alone and probably defensive. I also feel alone and defensive in those moments. That is not what either of us want, so why are we creating that environment? This is what happens when you do not act consciously and intentionally. Reactivity creates more reactivity. Just as awareness creates more awareness.
Co-creating an environment that is free from shame, blame and criticism creates a safe place that welcomes vulnerability and communicates mutual respect, which is essential for connection. When you experience the shift from reactivity to conscious intention, in your relationship, you also connect more with yourself allowing for more opportunity to discover and reach your full potential. None of us are perfect, and that is not the expectation any of us should strive for, but what we could begin to recognize and focus on is that the difficult shifts (such as looking at our own behaviors and improving them) are opportunities for growth and healing. When both of you participate in making the shift towards conscious intention, with the expectation of no shaming, no blaming and no criticizing, you are also opening up space for more discovery and potential in your relationship. When you experience living in a connected relationship, you experience life more fully and you have more energy.
Reach out and let me know when you’re ready to begin making the shift…I’d love to be a part of your journey.