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Choosing to Connect

By Hannah Slattery, LPC, NCC

Do you find yourself struggling to connect with your spouse, friends or family? Are you trying to find happiness and feel fulfilled but nothing you do seems to work? Dr. William Glasser, internationally recognized psychiatrist who is best known as the creator of Choice Theory and author of Reality Therapy believed that most psychological problems occurred due to our unsatisfactory relationships.

Every single one of us has developed a set of habits in our lives, whether or not they are beneficial for our life, like working out consistently or habits that inhibit growth like procrastinating getting our work done. We also have relationship habits that we have grown accustomed to that either inhibit or establish growth. Humans are social creatures regardless if you deem yourself an introvert or extrovert. The health of the relationships that we surround ourselves with thus correlate to how healthy we are. Choice Theory was developed to help people gain a sense of self-control and take responsibility for their actions, this also comes into play when we are discussing our relationships. 

Connecting Habits

In Choice Theory the seven connecting habits are positive practices for establishing healthy relationships;

  1. Supporting

  2. Encouraging

  3. Listening 

  4. Accepting

  5. Trusting

  6. Respecting

  7. Negotiating Differences

Think about the last encounter you had with someone important to you. Did it possess all, some, or none of the seven connecting habits? Self-reflection is a game-changer when it comes to better connecting with yourself and others. If you can reflect on not only how your last conversation went with your partner but afterward discuss with them what you could have done differently( remember we can only control ourselves), then there is already healing. 

Disconnecting Habits

On the flip side, there are also seven disconnecting habits that relationships could possess;

  1. Criticizing

  2. Blaming

  3. Complaining

  4. Nagging

  5. Threatening

  6. Punishing

  7. Bribing, Rewarding to Control

Now just like with the seven connecting habits, think about the last conversation you had, how many disconnecting habits did you choose to use? The purpose of this exercise is not to add shame or blame, but rather to give you more responsibility to change these behaviors and add healthier options. 

The way to truly have a healthy relationship is to stop trying to control your partner, friend, sibling, parent, etc. You get to choose if you use connecting or disconnecting habits in your relationships. 

Do you need help connecting to others? We offer relationship counseling for couples, parent/children, and families. Call us today to schedule your first appointment.

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