Now that we’ve gotten some psychological distance and done some self-reflection, we’re ready to make a decision about how we want to change (or not change). Keep in mind: The decision must be tied to the insight we’ve gained about ourselves during our self-reflection. In this step, we’re not making the changes, we’re deciding what we need to change about ourselves. And even though we might think we’re changing for a specific relationship, most of the changes we’ll decide to make are changes we’ve needed to make for a long time.
For example, let’s say you’ve been arguing with your partner and, through self-reflection, you realize you’ve been trying to get your point across without considering your partner’s feelings. Maybe you decide to re-engage with a more open mind. To listen more and talk less.
Meanwhile, maybe the partner on the other side of this argument has done some self-reflection too. And they see that they’re always giving in, always apologizing and being passive. So they decide to become more assertive.
Notice that in both cases, neither one of these people looked at the other person in making their decision to change. They didn’t think, “Oh, well Joe always says I’m too quiet, so I’ll speak up.” They are looking only at themselves. That way, they know they are making a decision based on who they are and who they truly believe they need to become to have the kind of relationship they want.
The ultimate decision on changes we think we have to make in ourselves must be based on what we believe is right for ourselves. And not in a superficial way—but in a way that can cause real change for the better. These changes might even force us to swallow our pride and push us from our comfort zones in different and uncomfortable ways, but we can be confident in knowing they are right for ourselves and for the relationship.
Once you’ve decided how you’d like to change, you’ll have to re-engage with the relationship and actually carry out these changes. How you do that will be our next blog.