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  • Writer's pictureRachel Roberts

Does Your Relationship Run on Autopilot?

Most of us go about our days focused on what we need to get done, or what our kids need, or looking forward to that time we’ll finally be able to sit down and relax… with little pockets or moments scattered in when we remember to stop and breathe. Being intentional with our time and energy can be quite challenging if it’s not something we practice regularly. In much the same way, we often end up having interactions with our loved ones while functioning from that autopilot mindset.

“This conversation is taking awhile - I don’t have time for this!”

“Ugh, he’s making big plans again, and all I can think is how much more we’ll have to do for that.”

“Yes, it would be nice to spend more time together, but do you see how exhausted I am by the end of the day?”

“Oh boy, she’s talking about her feelings again. Land mine alert!”

“Time to sit and relax - finally! What TV show should we watch?”

None of these specific thoughts are wrong, but it does invite the question… How often, on any given day, do we actually stop and practice intentionality and presence with our partners? How often are we in reaction mode, rather than more consciously choosing our responses?

Is it maybe only when a serious topic or decision comes up? “Ok, we really need to sit and talk about this.” If we haven’t habituated or become accustomed to being present in our time together, then those heavier discussions can often end up in an argument or withdrawal, with little being decided or resolved. The time it takes to fall into reaction mode again is fairly short. And so, we might begin to avoid talking about anything important, because we both walk away feeling pretty lousy. This, of course, becomes a dysfunctional cycle in our relationships. If we don’t spend much time or energy interacting at a deeper level or with more potentially difficult conversations or disagreements, can we really expect to get any better at it?

Increasing our self-awareness with regular practices that can help us be more aligned internally can positively impact and lengthen that amount of time between reaction vs response. And that is the goal for healthier interactions. Otherwise, our limbic system is running the show on autopilot. We may think we’re there, talking and listening, but if we haven’t trained our mind and nervous system to be in greater awareness, that autopilot can kick in with the slightest push of a button.

Self-regulation does not always come naturally for us, especially if we were not co-regulated well by our parents. This is why learning practices for meditation, embodiment, alignment, and grounding are incredibly important for humans (and co-regulating our children so they don’t struggle so much with this when they’re older!) The more we practice these various forms of presence, the more our interactions can flow smoothly, with responsiveness not reactivity.

So what are some of the practices you use regularly that help you interact from a place of presence and responsiveness? Do you need some ideas or suggestions? Message me! I'd love to help. ❤️

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