Before, during or after.
Get your head out of the gutter. I am not talking about that. I am talking about neurology and human behavior. Give me a minute – might be more interesting than you think.
Yes, we get three opportunities to be our highest, relational self. By now, our brain wiring is habituated. Whether by practice or sheer survival, our neurons fire down a known and weathered pathway. Thus, as difficult as it is, our task is to resist the old and build anew. We must rewire our brains to be our relational best. Thank God we have three chances to learn this different, improved way.
Let’s start with the easiest option – after. The next moment, hour, day or week, we realize we did not act or speak in a constructive, respectful way. Oops. Better late than never. This is a grand time to approach your partner (or child, friend or miscellaneous other) and make amends. Own your shit and commit to doing it differently in the future. Yes, you might botch it up again. We all do. But you are on a progressive pathway toward higher relational living.
Now, the second hardest option – during. You are growing in your self-awareness. You are recognizing your specific triggers – that which sets you off, your personal version of Jekyll and Hyde. The ball is shot out of the cannon. You are off to the races. Suddenly, before you have acted like a total jerk, your second consciousness kicks in and screams, “STOP!” Oops. Redo. That’s is not what I meant to say nor how I meant to say it. It’s as if you quickly recall that taking care of the relationship is important, not just tending to your own ego. So, redo, my friend. Your partner will appreciate it, as will your relationship. And God knows, we all need more second chances in life.
And lastly, for the most advanced technique. The AP test for the tried and true. Those therapized to the point of relational maturation. The “Before.” Meaning, that before the neural stimulus takes off down the known reptilian pathway, we catch it at the gate. Nope, not you again. Not happening that way. We know how that plays out. And, I am interested in more and better. So, we do an about turn around and head down a healthier relational path. One that gives my relationships a fighting chance to not merely survive but thrive in a relationship-breaking culture.
Don’t fret. Start with the easiest – the after – and work your way backwards. All you need is a little courage to admit your humanness. That you make mistakes. That you are a creation in progress. That you are imperfect like the rest of us.
I guarantee even that will do wonders for your love life.