You’ve had the answers all along – how will you use them?

I recently spoke with two members in the field of psychology and those conversations have rocked my world. Starting with one and ending with another, I discovered why I keeping messing up my relationships and how to stop. And it’s not a message that applies only to me, it’s universal. I can’t believe it could be as simple as this, but it seems that it is.

We have to start by agreeing that we can only control our half of the relationship – as a Survivor of Domestic Abuse (SODA®), I’ll be the first to tell you that if you’re with the wrong person there isn’t a thing you can do to help the situation – you should become familiar with the warning signs of abuse and understand when a situation is beyond your control and how to get out safely. Assuming that is not the case, let’s look at our half of the picture for a moment.

Simple question – would you hire you? Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a career professional, or anyone who has ever had to complete tasks for someone else, would you hire you? I’m guessing most of us would say yes. We all have some skills that can be used in the world to contribute to its success.

And, inherent in working comes a certain expectation of how we act in the workplace, correct? How we present ourselves – we dress for our work environment. How we interact with others – we control our emotions, even when it is challenging, in order to keep our jobs. How we communicate – we don’t call our bosses at midnight, we don’t triple-text them, we wouldn’t email them when we’ve had too much to drink, true? There are consequences for bad behavior at work – we need our jobs, we need our paychecks, our reputations mean something to us. Or, we need to be good moms, or good members of our communities – the same rules apply.

So, if we understand how we should be conducting ourselves when consequences are involved, and what that should look like to the outside world: Why wouldn’t we apply these same rules of behavior to our relationships? The conversation started for me with one psychologist when we agreed that I keep making the same mistakes over and over – repeated patterns of bad communication. I have a degree in Communications and have worked successfully in this field for quite some time. Something was definitely wrong here! This is where the lightbulb started flickering in my brain.

The conversation continued when I was brainstorming with a LCSW about why someone would say, “I always succeed professionally, but I suck at dating.” (Yes, it was me, I said that). Her thinking was that I may have had the answers all along, but I didn’t connect the two parts of my life. The lightbulb blasted so bright in that moment that I was blinded. I totally got it. Would I hire me? Of course. Would I date me? Uh, no comment.

What do we do with this information and how do we apply it? If we’ve had the answers all along, what are they? We have to go back to the basics and start with something that I think many of us miss: There are not just consequences for bad behavior at work. The same rules apply in relationships too. It’s obvious right? But do we think about them before we act? Bad behavior at work gets us fired. Bad behavior in relationships, well, you get it.

If we apply work conduct to our personal lives, what does it look like?

How we present ourselves – taking pride in our appearance is personal and up to us, but I think it’s something we could agree would be important in a relationship too.

How we interact with others – thinking before we act, considering the other person’s feelings, controlling our emotions while still communicating our own – if we can do that at work, shouldn’t we do that in our personal lives too?

How we communicate – if we don’t call our bosses at midnight, we don’t triple-text them, and we wouldn’t email them when we’ve had too much to drink, what would we do differently in our relationships? This one is slightly different because other rules sometimes apply in personal communication; however, we can still take a lesson about appropriate behavior and apply it here.

I have a proven track record of decades of employment where I’ve followed these simple rules and found significant professional success. I know in the 24 hours since I made this life-changing discovery that I have already stopped myself at least three times from behavior that I would not have stopped myself from a few days ago. My mind is blown over this. As I’ve picked up my phone to text, call, or email, I simply asked myself: Would I do this at work? All three times the answer was no, so I put my phone down and moved on. Not only do I not feel the anxiety that I would normally feel over making a bad decision, I feel a sense of peace washing over me that I may actually have a chance at not sucking at dating next time. If I keep this up for a few more days, maybe I’ll take myself out for a cup of coffee.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at:  1-800-799-7233 or visit for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

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