Making Relationships Work Using the You Go First Principle

Making relationships work often feels like another full-time job. Those closest to you just don’t get it. No matter what you say or how much you try to convince them, they don’t change.

Let’s be honest, we almost always try to change someone else when trying to fix our relationships.

There are times when we’re certain that our desires, our way of thinking, our way of acting, and our way of loving or treating someone else should be practiced by everyone else in our lives.

Not only do we demand the people we love to want what we want, they “must” also change what they do first before we even consider changing what we do.

The problem is that we all demand and expect the other person to change first, so no one takes the first step and our relationships remain stuck and unsatisfying.

There’s Only One Person You Can Change

Anytime you attempt to control another person, making relationships work is nearly impossible. The more you try to coerce someone you love to act how you would like, the more your relationship suffers.

How much of your time do you spend resisting what your loved ones demand you to do or trying to force your loved ones to do what you want?

We waste a lot of our time and energy trying to force others to do what we want.

Even if you get what you want, and the other person changes because of your forcefulness, they will probably resent you for it. It will also be difficult for you to believe in and enjoy the changes in your loved one because you will know in the back of your mind that you forced him or her into it.

There is only one person you can change and that is YOU. No matter how strongly you believe the story in your mind that you can or should change another person, it will never work in the long run. Making relationships work begins with you and what you can do.

But People will Walk all Over Me

When we talk to people about trying to control only what they do and not their loved ones, they often counter with “but I don’t want people to just walk all over me”.

To which we say “Great! we hope you wouldn’t let the people you love, or anyone for that matter, walk all over you.”

Taking control solely of your own behavior does not make you a doormat and, in fact, is the most empowering step you could take in your life.

You can choose not to let someone walk all over you. You can respond to him or her in ways that are congruent with the standards you’ve set for yourself yet don’t demand him or her to change.

Redefining what you will and won’t put up with in relationships and how you’ll choose to act no matter what is very empowering. It starts the process of defining your own personal freedom.

Your freedom comes when you take control of what you do.

You Go First Principle

Anytime you want to improve you relationships, it is best to search for what you can do differently first before looking to change those closest to you. Remember, the only person’s behavior you can control is your own.

Anytime you’re more focused on changing someone else than on what you can do differently, you’re fighting a losing battle.

It is in your best interest to stop wasting your time trying to change someone else and start focusing on what you can do differently to improve your relationships and move in the direction you want.

Even if you completely believe that all of your relationship problems are caused by your partner, child, parent or friend, it is in your best interest to focus on how you can respond differently to him or her.

Making relationships work is much easier when you start to focus on changing how you react to someone you believe is causing the relationship problems instead of what he or she “must” do differently.

Making Relationships Work using the You Go First Principle

When trying to improve your relationships look to “go first” and change something small about what you do to get moving in the right direction.

Instead of waiting for someone else to change, be proactive, take the first step, and you will be amazed by how quickly your relationships could improve.

You go First Questions to Consider:

  • What’s the smallest change I could make in how I respond to this person?
  • Will what I’m doing bring us closer together or move us further apart?
  • In what ways am I demanding someone else change?
  • How could I state what I would like them to do without demanding it?
  • What’s the smallest change I could make in how I view the problem or my loved one?
  • If someone close to me acts in ways I’ve decided I won’t put up with, what can I choose to do next that honors the standards I’ve set for myself yet doesn’t demand someone else change?
  • How can I be assertive and state what I want while remaining un-demanding and un-controlling?

Say Yes to Love,

Dr. Michael Arn & Dr. Ashley Arn