The question of “How am I creating this?” is one of the most powerful that you can ask yourself in the middle of a difficult issue. This isn’t another way to blame yourself or give yourself a hard time; it’s an opening to the possibility of seeing the rest of the story, the part that you haven’t found yet that has kept the issue going.
Along with generating a list (see my last post), other people can be key in helping you answer this question. Often your friends, co-workers, and family members have been watching what is going on with you and could offer thoughts about what they’ve seen. Note that you’re not asking them for “constructive criticism” (I’ve never known how being criticized can be helpful.) Instead, you’re wondering with them, “What am I doing that is keeping this going?”
Your partner probably also has lots to say about what you’re doing to create a situation. Of course, if the issue is between you and your partner, this can be a pretty dicey question to ask. Sometimes what you’ll get will sound like a list of complaints rather than supportive, helpful comments. And yet–if you have the nerve to face into the complaints, you’ll probably end up with the most direct information you could get.
For example, let’s say you feel disconnected from your partner. You could decide it’s your partner’s issue, that she or he should appreciate you more, send you flowers, etc. Or you could ask your partner, “How am I creating disconnection with you?” You might find out you’ve been working too much or you’ve been preoccupied, or land on other feedback that would land you on the heart of the issue. Where you could choose to do something about it. Right now.