Monday, 4 January 2016

The path of least resistance - what is it and why does it matter?

I remember reading this book many years ago (Robert Fritz) and clearly understanding the metaphor at least at an intellectual level. It goes like this, imagine a dry river bed, when it starts to rain the water naturally just runs into the groove in the land that has already been established over years of water flowing through it. Simple right and easy to understand?

So, how does that relate to us and human beings, easy again, we need to understand all our paths of least resistance, what are the grooves (neural pathways) that have been created within us that we will default to when it starts to rain? Not right or wrong that it happens, just important to be aware of them so that you can take responsibility for the impact it will have on your relationships, both professional and personal.

Also, it's good to recognise that whatever happens in any relationship, it is created by both of you. Once you get into blame, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling (ignoring and disconnecting) then you are in the land of the relationship toxins and it is not a pleasant land to be in.  I know myself that I can't bear to be shouted at, being in the gym by any class instructor (I actively avoid those teachers), I hired my Personal Trainer and designed that with him up front, I do not respond to being shouted at. This is also true for that matter of any of my other relationships. It takes me back to a time when I was young which clearly is an experience that I do not want to relive, and so I avoid it.  Don't get me wrong I can be with conflict just not criticism, blame and the feeling of being attacked.

I used to go to a place of defensiveness and still go to stonewalling, I'm working hard on the defensiveness, I'm trying not to justify my position or go into who did what to whom. In the knowledge that although I have clearly had an unintended impact on the other person I know it was not intentional. So, I take responsibility for it and apologise.  The stonewalling is more difficult for me, so what I'm learning at this stage is to eventually ask for what I want. For example if you try not to attack me, I will try not to go away... It is a (or should I say I am a) work in progress, as we all are!

Where have you experienced your path of least resistance over the holidays?
What behaviours take you into the land of relationship toxins?
Where do you need to take responsibility for an impact you had that was not intended, either personally or professionally?
Communication is key and not easy to do, once the toxins are present!
The other key is not to judge yourself just learn from it, in the hope that the more you learn, the less likely you are to repeat the pattern.... The truth is also that if you want to break an old pattern (which is true in my case) then you might have to go into toxin land at least for a while in order to create a more healthy relationship moving forwards.

More to come on this as I explore other relationships and more of my own paths of least resistance!
Enjoy being curious about your paths!
Happy New Year from Australia!