my space tracker

Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: February 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Inner Door

A few weeks ago a healing colleague of mine, Dr. Roger Lope, who is both a chiropractor and holistic healer, as well as a "body reader," reminded me of the following idea: He said that when we make a commitment and a decision to know and accept who we are that we are walking through our own inner door.

Inside that door, I believe, is the place where we are at peace with who we are, what path we are on, and what choices we are making. Inside the inner door is the place within us where we find serenity in knowing that we have made, can and do make mistakes, but we are not awful because of them, but human. Inside that door, we can take a deep breath and know also that others make mistakes as well. That they are not awful, but human. We can feel our feelings, and not react impulsively, impatiently or with malice towards ourselves or others. Inside this door is where we know a lot about who we are, but are not afraid to continue to both unwrap ourselves and know more, and build ourselves to expand our world, if we'd like to.

Inside the door, it's okay to be okay. It's okay to have value. Inside the door our feelings are also guideposts to our deeper beliefs and moral standings, to what is important to us, and who is important to us. Our feelings are also both connectors to the past and pointers to the future. They do not have to be avoided or diminished or exaggerated either. They are as big or as small as they are.

Inside the door, there is a quiet calm of knowing that you are okay, that you are not only comfortable in your own skin, but in your own soul and psyche as well.

So if you are stuck on threshold of this door, or you feel like you are a million miles away from it, don't even know it exists in you, or think it's shut tight, what do you do? And what do you do if you know it's there, you sense it, or you are in and out, but want to keep walking through?

You start by allowing the idea to take hold, but committing to the possibility of the inner door, and to the possibility that exists in all of us to walk through it. Then it's about sorting through the muck, the blocks, the barriers, all the ideas and feelings that are blocking the entrance. Yes, it takes a bit of talking, writing, some meditating too maybe, but we can clear away the blocks. It's not always as fast as we might like it to be. We may have to grapple with old pain, resentment or things that used to keep us safe but now hold us back. We might have to study ourselves a bit, gently and honestly, of course, but that means we are on the path, headed toward the door. And that's worth something too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spinning Away From Each Other (Reversing the Roll)

One of the most common, but painful, dynamics that can happen in a relationship between a man and a woman is this: The woman says something to the man, could be anything really, and the man answers with some form of logic, opinion, fact, thought, idea. The woman gets angry then and says something that sounds angry, or perhaps critical or dismissive. The man then either retreats, or argues or shrugs his shoulders in defeat. For example:

Woman: My sister called. She's cancelling on us again. She's such a flake.

Man: She is so busy with that job of hers, she probably can't get away.

Woman: You always defend her! I just don't get you.

Man: Well, you know how her work life is and the pressure her boss puts on her.

Woman: Forget it. Why do I bother to talk to you.

Man: (Shrug - thinking: I can never say the right thing. Feeling: useless, frustrated).

Woman: (thinking: he never has my back; he's never on my side. Feeling: abandoned, frustrated).

So what happened? The woman wants emotion (empathy) first and help second. It may in fact be helpful to the woman to hear a bit of logic, to hear or consider that her sister does want to visit, but that she is under terrible pressure at work, and really can't get away. The man's logic may be useful and even offer some relief to the woman. But the woman wants an emotion connection with her husband first. She wants her feelings validated and accepted, joined even. Then some logic. When a man offers the logic first, it feels abandoning to many women. Often, then, when a woman feels abandoned or hurt, she sounds angry. The anger then puts off the man, leaving him feeling defeated, ineffective or stupid.

And then it usually spirals from there. Couples get further and further apart. The dynamic repeats itself in so many ways, in so many conversations.

But we can reverse the rolling away from each other and come closer to each other. We can retrain ourselves to use different words. It takes some time, but it does help, a lot. Even when there are other issues, other things to unpack, other resentments to deal with.

The better dialogue:

Woman: My sister cancelled again. She is such a flake.

Man: That's too bad. I know how much were looking forward to seeing her.

Woman: I hate when she does this to me.

Man: I know you do. It's so disappointing. I'm sorry.

Woman: Thanks. I just get so hurt when she can't come.

Man: I know. She does have that boss who's always on her case about taking off days.

Woman: You're right. I just wish she could deal with things differently so she could keep her plans.

Okay, of course there's more too it... but you get the picture. Validate. Thank. Empathize. Go for the emotional connection between you. Roll toward each other.

Happy Valentine's Day.