“Are you breathing?”
I ask my wife this question all the time.
Sometimes she struggles with anxiety, and every time I’ve seen her fall into an overwhelmingly anxious negative thought spiral, it has been accompanied by a lack of breathing.
Do you ever catch yourself not breathing?
I know I do…
But what does your breath have to do with marriage? This is a marriage website, after all.
Well, I’ll tell you.
The main focus of the blog you’re reading right now is to help you, dear reader, to create the most epic, passionate, lasting love that you can imagine… and then show you that you can have something even better than that.
In order to help you achieve that goal, I need to inspire you to make changes in the way you act, speak, think, and feel in order for you to get the results you want.
Then, I have to help you find a way to make those changes STICK! Changing for 24 hours, 24 days, or even 24 weeks does not an epic marriage make.
Those good choices you choose to make after listening to one of my podcasts or reading a blog post like this have to stick.
You’ve gotta repeat them over and over and over again for them to make a real difference.
So, what makes behavior change like that possible?
Well, in today’s podcast Anna Smyth teaches us just that.
It all starts with noticing.
Before you can change your life, you need to notice and observe your current habits and thought patterns.
This is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is all about bringing your attention to the present moment, and taking note of what’s going on in your world, in your body, and in your mind right now.
Maybe you’ve got an itch on your left arm. Maybe you’re clenching your jaw. Maybe your shoulders are tight from the meeting you just got out of. Maybe your brain is foggy from being up with a kid all night.
Noticing is mindfulness.
And Mindfulness is the first step to lasting behavior change.
One of the best ways to be mindful is to breathe. Not the kind of breathing that you do without thinking about it. I’m talking the deep, fill-your-belly-up-to-your-heart-with-air kind of breath.
The magic of breathing is that it brings us into the present moment. You can’t focus about breathing deeply and be worried about the future at the same time. Your brain doesn’t work that way.
Breathing also acts like the pause button in a video game. When you take a moment to breathe like this, you get a short window of time to stop and consider, “What do I want to do next?” Breathing helps you choose something different from the default behavior pattern you’ve built up for years - maybe even your whole life.
Now, take a deep breath and think about your relationship.
What are the thought unhelpful thought patterns you often fall into?
“I’m not good enough.”
“If he loved me, he wouldn’t treat me that way.”
“She hurt me on purpose. She’s trying to make me miserable.”
“He’s so stupid. I can’t believe he made the same mistake again.”
“If she really cared about me she would…”
What are the damaging behavior patterns that come so easily to you?
We have the same arguments over and over.
When I get angry I say really mean things.
I gossip about my partner behind their back.
I give to the point that I become resentful… and I don’t ever say anything about it.
Rather than ask for what I want, I prefer to punish my partner for not meeting my unspoken expectations.
I withhold sex and affection as punishment for something they’ve done to me.
The way you make your relationships better is to identify the patterns that aren’t working for you and choose something different. Something better.
When you take a moment to stop, breathe, and identify the patterns that exist in your life and in your mind, you create an opportunity to choose.
You can make your life different. Better. Even incredible.
And it all starts with a breath.
Let me know what you think of today’s episode in the comments!