A client I had been working with for a while told me a story of how one evening he came home to a noticeably stressed and unhappy girlfriend. No usual “welcome home” hug and kisses, and no “honey, how was your day?” either.
His first reaction was panic. He was sure he must have done something really terrible to make her act that way towards him. He had to figure out and fix whatever the problem was as quickly as possible. But try as he did, he could not remember what terrible thing he had done to get her upset.
So he started probing her with, “Honey, is this because I did said x, y?”, “Baby, are you mad that I did not do z?”
Finally, after hours of pushing harder and harder and getting nowhere fast, he remembered what he’d learned in coaching: If you keep hitting a brick wall, press the “stop” button, go with the moment so you can get to where you want to go faster.
He said to her, “You seem upset about something.”
Her reply came quickly and straightforwardly, “I had some problems at work today and that’s what was upsetting me before you got home. But now what’s upsetting me is that you won’t leave me alone even for a second.”
What did he do differently? He stopped trying to figure out how to fix whatever the problem was, and instead went with the flow of the moment.
When you’re trying to do this and trying to do that, and your efforts are making things worse, stop trying to bring the wall down crashing with the weight of your will power, stubbornness or anger. Step away from trying hard and just go with the flow.
What you see will surprise you because of how clear you can see it, but more importantly how easy it all seems.
Some people get this kind of clarity in hind-sight when it’s too late to change anything. Needy people especially have a hard time seeing when it’s time to stop trying to hard to make something happen. They sense resistance from their ex — real or imagined — panic, and try even harder.
Many of them have told me even when they know things are going downhill real fast, they can’t help but keep pushing and pushing, trying harder and harder, playing mind game after mind game, or getting their ex more and more upset with you.
Pushing the “stop” button helps you get out of auto-pilot, re-access the situation and change your response before it’s too late.