What Did I Do?

What Did I Do - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

Your partner is angry and and you ask, “What Did I Do?”

Your tone is a dead give away whether you are defensive or curious. Do you respond or react?

So which will get you to a deeper understanding of yourself and your partner? I know, that question is a set up, the answer is obvious. And the answer is always the harder route.

Two different parts of your brain will be activated depending on which decision you make. Reactivity activates the pre-frontal cortex and drives the amygdala, our fight or flight reflex, into high gear. Your options for creative, compassionate thinking are impaired.

Novelist, Aldous Huxley once wrote, “There is only one corner of the universe that you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

You can heal a relationship quickly and dramatically, with tremendous impact, if you are willing to examine your part in it and see whether you are actually triggering the problem that you are complaining about.

Now this isn’t easy, we don’t want to see ourselves as the cause of the problem. We may need to give up blaming the other person, and focus our energy on changing ourselves.

We know that we can not change another person, no matter how much at fault they are. In a healthy relationship once you start changing, your partner will change too.

The challenge is to think deeply about  the question: “What Did I Do?”

Try answering the following question:

“I think the most difficult thing about being in a relationship with me is that I am…..” (irritable, opinionated, stubborn, easily hurt….).

You get the idea, fill in the blank to describe your failures and weaknesses.

Finish the sentence and astound your partner with your honesty and accountability. Own it. Take responsibility. Experience the change. Watch your relationship turn around.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 27th, 2010 at 8:00 AM and is filed under IMAGO and Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “What Did I Do?”

  1. leslie Says:

    January 19th, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    I think the situation you describe is likely subject to the 80/20 rule.
    80% of the time , the above is true.
    For the other 20% , a spouse may genuinely have no idea “what they did”. In fact, they may have done nothing that is in keeping with the anger and frustration being demonstrated by their partner. I think most people know when their partner is just plain cranky , and can ignore the behaviour. in some, hopefully rare instances ,the angry party may be narcissistic,controlling or have an external locus of control. Hard to know what to do in these instances?

  2. Cheryl Woolstone Says:

    January 21st, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Excellent point Leslie. I think that we often act unconsciously and antagonistically with others when we are not at peace within ourselves. The challenge is to be clear when you are contributing and the times when the behaviour of your partner is a result of their personal distress.
    Thanks a lot for your comment. I like to have the holes in my thinking pointed out. Cheryl

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