Advertising
Advertising

Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think

Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think

Be honest. Do you feel like you have no control over whether your relationship soars or bottoms out? Do you think that cupid is in charge of your relationship’s happiness?

If so, you’re not alone.

The Destiny Theory of Relationship is characterized by the belief that relationships are either meant to be or doomed from the start. The problem with this theory, as the following relationship graph from Riskology.co shows, is that the results are rarely happily ever after.

destiny-theory-trend

    The destiny theory looks more like a roller coaster than happily ever after. Here are a few clues that you may be at this end of the spectrum:

    Advertising

    • You are looking for the perfect mate. Your friends have heard you say, “They’re perfect for me!” — likely on more than one occasion and, often, just before a dramatic end to the relationship.
    • You’re far more likely to say “They weren’t right for me,” than you are to say “We couldn’t make it work.”
    • You fall for people quickly and passionately, moving from the first date to planning your life together in a short time.
    • You will see any conflict as proof that you’re not right for each other. Even normal, relatively minor conflicts will cause you to rethink the relationship.
    • You’re hot and cold. Either they are “all in” with you, or they’re out.

    Here are a few lessons that explain why the people who live by the destiny theory often struggle to maintain healthy relationships.

    You need to embrace the struggle

    Destiny theorists are quick to think problems that arise are because they weren’t meant to be together in the first place, so they don’t look at what actually caused the problem.

    The truth is that life comes with circumstances. Even Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble.” It stands to reason that, even in the very best relationships, you will have troubles. If you believe the destiny theory, though, you’ll take the normal challenges that are meant to strengthen your relationship and use them as a reason to trash it.

    Your struggles are meant to pull you together as a couple and grow you as a person. As Eric Thomas, former professional football player, said, “You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.”

    To paraphrase, if you’re going to have trouble anyway, you might as well get a payoff in the form of a better relationship on the other side.

    Advertising

    If you let the weeds grow, the flowers can’t

    People who believe relationships are based on destiny don’t feel the need for self-examination. And why would they? There is no need to look at their own behavior if the relationship just wasn’t meant to be.

    The real downside to this belief is that, often, destiny theorists are their own worst enemies.

    Everyone has room for improvement. We all have “behavior weeds” in our relationship gardens. If you don’t look at your own actions when things go wrong, you can never get better. If you look honestly at yourself, you can pull the weeds from your own garden and give a decent relationship room to become great.

    No one marries the right person

    People who hold the destiny theory often hold their partners to an unrealistic standard. They aren’t able to see that everyone has good and bad in them. Even the “perfect mate” is going to drive you nuts at times, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.

    There will never be someone who is perfect for you. Or me. We have to work at becoming the right people together. Very often, the way we learned to deal with conflict while growing up contributes to our believing in destiny.

    Advertising

    But there is beauty in the words “growing up.” We don’t have to stop growing just because we’re adults. In fact, if you’re tired of Destiny Theory relationships that don’t last, crashing and burning as passionately as they started, there is an alternative theory that is based on just that: growth.

    Thanks again to Riskology.co for providing us with a graph showing how relationships work if you hold the Growth Belief. With a growth belief, you know that great relationships take work. Check it out:

    growth-theory-trend

      While there’s no relationship guarantee in life, it’s obvious when you compare the two graphs that one way of thinking creates far more successful relationships than the other.

      Growth: Beauty and the beast

      What people who believe in destiny don’t know is that, though growth is hard, it’s so worth it.

      Advertising

      Growth takes a willingness to be objective when all you want to do is fall madly, senselessly in love. It means you have to own up to your feelings when your partner disappoints you and communicate when you have disagreements. And, perhaps the hardest part, it requires the humility to own up to your part in the problems you face as a couple.

      The upside?

      The results of self examination, better relationship skills, and putting childish ways of dealing with life away can make the difference between heartbreak and silver wedding anniversaries.

      It won’t happen overnight and there’s no magic pill. But, it’s not a matter of luck or destiny either. You have a huge amount of control over how your relationship flourishes or wilts. Use it to grow a beautiful garden for years to come.

      Featured photo credit: Eric’s Proposal to His Girlfriend/ via flickr.com

      More by this author

      Proof you have more positive relationship power than you think 3 Relationship “Truths” That Are Actually Dangerous Lies 4 Vital Ways Your Friends Make You a Better Spouse 10 Sympathy Cards That Don’t Suck

      Trending in Communication

      1 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake 2 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 3 20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About 4 How to Find Inner Peace and Lasting Happiness 5 Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on January 14, 2021

      How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

      How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

      Despite our best intentions and efforts, making mistakes is a fact of life. Humans are prone to error, so we are inevitably going to mess up at one point or another.

      Many of the slip ups we make won’t have any impact on those around us, but what about the times when they do hurt someone else, either inadvertently or purposefully? Do we ignore the mistake and hope it will go away on its own? Do we confront the mistake, however painful that may be, and apologize? How we react to our mistakes defines both who we are and how we are perceived by others.

      I’m a voice and presence coach specializing in training people to find their voice and speak their truth. One of the most difficult tasks I teach my students is how to apologize authentically. It takes a lot of vulnerability to admit wrongdoing, and even more so to seek forgiveness and make amends. (After all, we live in a world where some of our top leaders openly avoid taking accountability for their mistakes.) However, like anything else in life, if you ignore something painful instead of facing it, that pain tends to grow and appear in other parts of your life. It’s better to face these things head on.

      So how do you apologize effectively? Technically, there is no one “right” way, but there are plenty of ineffective ways to go about apologizing. I’m going to approach this from the perspective that we are genuinely remorseful and wish to make amends for the hurt we have caused.

      Simply saying, “I’m sorry” is easy. But it’s important that your words match your intention. It’s complex to apologize authentically when you have made a mistake – to utter remorse that is grounded in your truth, and it’s what we’re going to cover here.

      In order to make a genuine apology, I refer to a practice introduced to me by a mentor several years ago: the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono prayer. I’m not an expert on Hawaiian prayer, but having meditated with this one for a number of years, I can say that this practice of reconciliation and forgiveness is incredibly powerful.

      Ho’oponopono means “to make right” or “rectify an error.” What sets this practice apart is that the focus is not on controlling a particular outcome (i.e. healing the hurt relationship you have with this person), but instead on healing yourself in order to heal the situation.

      The Ho’oponopono prayer is profoundly simple, and translates as follows:

      I’m sorry.

      Please forgive me.

      Thank you.

      I love you.

      Everything we need to apologize is right here. Let’s break down the structure of this apology into these 4 concrete steps for before, during, and after the apology.

      Advertising

      Before the Apology

      Step 1: I’m Sorry – What are you sorry for?

      Before you start speaking and leading from pure emotion, it’s important to actually figure out what you are sorry for:

      Start by Writing Down the Facts

      When you’re writing this out, avoid assigning any judgments to the scenario or making any assumptions about the person affected by your mistake. Instead stick to straight facts. Dump the whole situation onto the page, including all the details.

      Ex. My friend was having a hard time with her boyfriend. She kept complaining to me about it, and I was tired of listening to the situation. I also felt I knew exactly what was going on, and what was not working, so I finally got blunt and told her my opinion. She was very offended. I realized afterward that she just needed an ear to listen, and she wasn’t looking for my advice.

      Write Down Your Part in Making This Mistake

      Stick to your contribution only. Avoid speaking for anyone else, simply focus on what you did that you know helped create the situation.

      Ex. I gave feedback that my friend wasn’t interested in hearing. My mistake was assuming that she’d be better off if she heard what I had to say.

      After Writing It All Down, Ask Yourself How You’re Feeling by Grounding Yourself in Your Truth

      I teach a process to my clients called the Voice Body Connection process, which starts with grounding yourself in your physical sensations. This process will help you find your voice and speak your truth objectively, even if you are flooded with strong emotions in the moment.

      Identify the Physical Sensations You Feel

      Now that you have relived the experience of making the mistake by writing it out, tune into your body, and ask yourself the question:

      “What is the strongest SENSATION I feel in my body right now?”

      Be sure to keep this body-based. When you are preparing to apologize, taking note of your sensations helps you ground yourself in how you are feeling so that you can show up.

      Ex. I feel an aching sensation in my heart.

      Identify Why You Think You Are Feeling This Sensation

      After you’ve identified your primary sensations, ask yourself the following question:

      “What do I think is the STIMULUS that led me to feel this sensation?”

      This is likely a very simple statement that you already wrote about. It’s the heart of the matter.

      Advertising

      Ex. I gave my friend advice she wasn’t asking for.

      Identify Your Emotions About This Situation

      Now that you know why you are feeling these physical sensations, move to identify your emotions. Ask yourself:

      “What are my EMOTIONS about noticing all of this?”

      Some primary emotions are fear, anger, sadness, disgust, joy, and arousal.

      Ex. I’m feeling sad that I crossed my friend’s boundaries.

      Identify Your Ideal Outcome For This Situation

      Your emotions are tied to your desire for a future outcome. Ask yourself,

      “Do I have any desires related to everything I just noticed?”

      Examples of core desires are safety, comfort, bonding/love, and curiosity/growth.

      Ex. I want to repair the relationship so that we can be close again.

      Make Sure You Actually Want Forgiveness And Reconnection

      Please keep in mind that if in this process, you discover that you don’t feel safe with this other person. There’s no reason to apologize and re-connect.

      But if you feel safe and comfortable with them and desire to be connected again, then you can proceed to the next step of the Ho’oponopono prayer.

      During the Apology

      Step 2: Please Forgive Me

      You’re not going to share everything from your process above with your friend. What you are going to share is your acknowledgment of the hurt you caused, your part in creating that situation, and your desire to reconnect[1].

      It’s also very important to be clear about only speaking your truth and not commenting on their side. That’s their job.

      Advertising

      You can use this script by filling in the observations you noted above:

      I think <a simple statement about what happened> happened between us…

      And I believe my mistake was <insert your part here>…

      I am left feeling <insert your emotions>…

      and moving forward, I would want to <insert your desires>.

      Ex. I think I gave you feedback that you weren’t interested in hearing…

      And I believe my mistake was assuming that you’d be better off if you heard what I felt I needed to say.

      I am left feeling sad that I crossed your boundaries.

      And moving forward what I really want is to be close to you again, and to assure you that I will ask permission in the future before I give you advice.

      Once you’ve shared this introductory olive branch, stop talking about yourself. This is it for now…. it’s all you needed to say to get the conversation started.

      Your next job is to listen and be curious. Ask open-ended questions about their experience like “How did that feel for you?”. De-center yourself and let your friend share as much as they need to. When you do speak, let them know that you hear what they are saying, and acknowledge your impact.

      I’ll grant you that this is hard to do – it’s easy to get defensive. But your checklist is:

      • Tell them you heard them
      • Let them know you understand you had an impact on them
      • Ask them more about their experience

      Step 3: Thank You

      Now that you have asked the other person about their experience, it is quite possible that they will say things you don’t want to hear. You may find yourself feeling defensive or even angry. A stressful situation like this can trigger “fight or flight” mode in your body: you may notice that you start sweating, that your pupils are narrowing, that your eyes tear up, that you start experiencing tunnel vision. This is all normal.

      Advertising

      To help stave this off and stay present, keep being genuinely curious about what their experience has been. Don’t listen to be “right,” listen to be connected. Listen to understand.

      Even if they say something you don’t like hearing, thank them anyway for sharing the truth of their experience and for being in your life. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it is a necessary step towards your own healing in the Ho’oponopono prayer.

      Moving Forward Post-Apology

      Step 4: I Love You

      Let’s say you’re actually at a place where the relationship you have with the other person can be repaired. “I love you” encourages curiosity: how can you repair and reconnect? How can things look different moving forward?

      Think of something you can do to express and experience your love, appreciation, or respect for each other. Make a plan for how to move forward.

      A great practice is to make a list of things you are grateful for about the other person. Be sure to share this list, either as a letter or just out loud. It’s important to share how much we appreciate each other, and it feels as good to give gratitude as it does to receive it.

      This last portion of the prayer is not just for the other person… it’s for you as well. Filling yourself with a sense of love ensures that you’ll be able to move on from the mistake and heal. It’s easy for many of us to beat ourselves up and continue to hold onto guilt, or even shame, about a mistake we have made — even though we are genuinely remorseful and have tried to make amends.

      You can continue to repeat the entire Ho’oponopono prayer to yourself after the encounter where you have apologized:

      I’m sorry.
      Please forgive me.

      Thank you.

      I love you.

      In doing so, you may find you’re apologizing to yourself too.

      The Bottom Line

      To speak our truth in an apology, we must show up fully without expecting anything of the other person. Though we cannot affect or control the outcome of the apology, no matter how repentant we are, following the Ho’oponopono can guide us to true repair and healing.

      If you have been stuck on finding the “right” way to reconnect and apologize to someone in your life, I hope this process inspired by the Ho’oponopono prayer will help you to make that first step.

      More on How to Apologize

      Featured photo credit: Gus Moretta via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next