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Break the cycle

Updated: Oct 22


What keeps you having the same old argument and leaving you feeling frustrated, angry, upset or misunderstood?


The example shown attempts to illustrate how we all interact to the point that our mutual behaviour becomes circular.


In the example, help is asked for and promised, waited for and not for filled, communication of disappointment and the impact of disappointment being 'withdrawal', which leaves the 'asker' in a position to make a further request to 'manage their feelings' of disappointment.


It sounds all a bit negative but it really is not. The advice is to break the cycle, all this means is at any point in the diagram, we intersect it, draw a line between the behaviours and try to do something different. So at any point of the cycle we break it, for example, we might say P1 waits, P2 then forgot - rather than waiting, P1 might remind without condition or irritation - accept that P2 forgets. Acceptance is the powerful motivator here.


Another possibility, is acknowledgement, P2 acknowledges that they forgot and apologises, owns and names it and comes at it from the point of view of "given I forgot, what can I do now?"


It is difficult to recognise and break circular behaviour. Unrecognised circular behaviour can transform into polarisation. Rather than being circular you become binary. Yes or no. All or nothing. So if you look at the cycle above and number the behaviours from 1 to 6 starting anywhere, 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6 are all positions of being polarised; behaving in opposites. The more the other behaves one way the more you react with the opposite behaviour.


Opposition behaviour becomes habitual and difficult to recognise, it can be an unconscious behaviour or become second nature. You concious ability to interrupt the action and reaction can become too ingrained to achieve.


Ideally you will get help with the circular pattern before you become polarised, although polarisation can be more obvious for couples to see and back down from. Circularity can hold a chicken and egg element, where the couple want to establish which came first, make it linear and expect the person who started to back down. This can delay breaking the cycle.


It can be very useful to understand where some of your behaviour comes from, it can gain an increase in self awareness and give you a platform for change. Looking into mutual childhood backgrounds and impact takes time, listening and patience. It is a worthwhile investment if you can be open and resilient. I work with lots of couples on this level, I also work with others to simply name and break the cycle and gain strategies for change.



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