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Illegal behaviors to avoid on the fields of love and work

Have you ever metaphorically grabbed the face mask of someone you care about?


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In sports, rules maintain sportsmanlike conduct, supporting a healthy structure and bringing honor, safety and respect to the game. Relationships require rules and regulations which support healthy connection as well.

Can you imagine having a referee jump in some of your discussions, blowing the whistle and throwing a yellow flag: "15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct!" How many times in the relationships you care about have you pulled an illegal move? Have you ever metaphorically grabbed the face mask of someone you care about?

Are you guilty of a word, behavior or action that does not support healthy connection and contradicts your ultimate goal of healthy connection? I'm sure those penalized for face mask moves on the field probably didn't intentionally participate in an illegal move; yet in the heat of the moment, they end up sabotaging their ultimate goal due to ugly behavior.

Perhaps you are tired, overwhelmed, hungry, angry or tired -- whatever the fuel is in that moment, remember that you are the gatekeeper of what comes out of your mouth, your thoughts and your choice of response.

Here are three examples of unsportsmanlike conduct you want to avoid in your relationships:

"You always" or "You never" statements: these are universal quantifying conclusions which generalize a specific behavior allowing no room for identifying behavior which contradicts the generalization. For example: "You never listen to me." Really? Never ever? This kind of illegal move programs the brain to delete any positive behavior, which would contradict the undesired behavior there by imprisoning your partner with your conclusion. Authentic love seeks out the best in others. Practice seeing the people in your circle of trust (personally and professionally) for whom they desire to be rather than for how their behavior might paint them. Isn't that how you desire to be seen? Release the urge to verbalize victim statements which hold others captive to your unhealthy conclusions.

Upping the ante: This is a very popular illegal move in relationships which renders any good intention for sharing one's truth null and void. When one partner is sharing a frustration, an illegal move, which sabotages healthy connection, is this: "Well, you do that, too" or "Well, you do THIS." A healthy solution which helps release the "up the ante" reactive response: Choose a time to sit down with the person you want to connect with on a deeper level and share with the following rules: Take turns sharing one or two positive observations, something you appreciate about that person specifically. Nex,t take turns communicating a specific situation when you felt unloved; under-appreciated or misunderstood (an opportunity for growth and better connection).

The key to this vulnerable exchange lies in the ground rules. Once the person who is sharing their vulnerable feelings expresses their frustration and "When you did this, I felt this" statements, the person listening cannot respond for 20-30 minutes. This experience of waiting 20-30 minutes is similar to the structure of pulling an emotionally spun player off the field to cool off and regroup.

This chunk of time allows for any primal brain flare ups to calm down, allowing for executive thinking skills to kick in. The illegal moves of defensive behavior; ugly talk and stonewalling are kept at bay when you have this sportsmanlike conduct infrastructure established. Once you have time to reflect on the information from a place of observation rather than reactive behavior, you gain the ability to create a bridge of connection rather than a wall of separation.

Passive/aggressive antics: Too often in relationships, we have more than one program running at the same time, which confuses the delivery of information and those around us. Two popular programs which fuel passive/aggressive antics are "the disease to please" and "honest planet." It looks like this: outside voice: "Sure, we can go out with your friends tonight"; inside feelings: "I'm exhausted and need to rest and refresh before heading into a new week."

The problem comes when we communicate messages to one another, which do not align with our truth. Too often, our desire to please overrides what we are truly feeling, as well as healthy self-care systems which allow us to do what we do. Passive-aggressive behavior looks like this: I will communicate what I think I should say and do what I think I should do, then get resentful and angry towards you because of my choice to do what I think you want me to do. This is a huge "yellow flag" foul in relationships, because the person on the receiving end has no idea how to respond. From their perspective, they move forward with plans, only to be confronted by ugly behavior and a passive/aggressive disposition, which completely contradicts their partners' initial willingness to participate.

A healthy solution: resurrect your ability to clearly honor and speak your truth rather than getting spun out of your truth by the disease to please and the drug of approval. Slow down your responses to invitations and give room inside your interior castle to see if the requests, on your time and attention, honor your desires and self-care so that you can authentically give of time and presence.  Much of the internal anger of the person who is mucking around in passive/aggressive behavior flows from frustration around one's own lack of ability to communicate their truth and set healthy boundaries. Assumptions also play a role in this unsportsmanlike conduct. Ask for clarity rather than assume you know what the other person is thinking and/or feeling.

Be present, act in love, speak the truth and detach from outcome. Honor and respect your “teammates” in life. Step away from unsportsmanlike conduct and illegal moves. Set healthy boundaries so that you step away from resentment, usually fueled by saying yes to those things you really don't want to do. When you give what you have decided to give in your heart, the energy of your giving refreshes rather than restricts others around you. Be the kind of person you want to encounter in relationships. Be open to identifying and adjusting those thoughts and behaviors that don't align with your goal for healthy and sustainable connection in the relationships you care most about. Love evokes more love; kindness evokes more kindness. Elicit behaviors you desire to experience.

Any time we can flip a serious situation into a place of levity, we instantly ignite the part of the brain which allows us to seek healthy solutions and we are in a position to reboot our thoughts and actions into a space which honors the person we are committed to being. To lighten those heavy moments when you or the person you care about are spun into an "illegal behavior", agree to carry a yellow flag in your pocket and throw it up in the air when you identify any of the unsportsmanlike conduct described in this article. Flag-throwing is also a fun activity to do with teams in the work place after the rules for effective communication are agreed upon.

Click here for a 3-minute Relationship Retreat Message from my 30-Day Cultivate Healthy Relationships Program.

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Lauren Miller

Lauren E Miller, M.Ed, specialization in human resource development, is a stress relief educator/coach/trainer and international motivational speaker and best-selling author. Miller equips people globally with mindset skills and physiological techniques to de-stress their lives, regain inner clarity and step into personal excellence. Explore Lauren’s 30-Day Excellence and Wellness Programs at: http://LaurenMiller.Avanoo.com. For more information on Lauren E Miller and effective stress relief books/cds/products please visit her main website: www.laurenEmiller.com. To book Lauren for interviews; keynotes, workshops and 1:1 Programs email: jdfulford@q.com.

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