Tuesday, January 29, 2013
One of the most amazing and simple options (though definitely not easy) we have - especially when we are hurting, angry, frustrated, hopeless - is to ask questions. To get interested and curious.
Questions are a good relationship tool, as well as a good trick for helping us to understand ourselves better.
Often, we ask all the right questions, but we ask them without really stopping to ask them for real.
For example, "Why me?" "What's wrong with you?" "What's the matter with me?" "Why doesn't s/he pay better attention to me?" "Why did this happen to me?" "Why does this keep happening to me?" "What do you want from me?" "Why can't you just do what I need you to do?"
I could go on and on with examples. But the point is this. Usually when we ask these questions of our partners or of ourselves, we ask with a tone of fury or attack. Self attack or attack of our partners. The same is true when others ask it of us. And tone usually reflects lots of hot feelings that are important and need to get aired and sorted out.
But it's sad in a way, because when we ask them with an attack tone, things get can get much worse. And when we stop there, and just ask the questions as if they are only expressions of our pain, we miss out on the best and most promising part. These questions, when asked with gentleness, sincerity and openness and a willingness to really understand our underlying fears and motivations and defenses and needs, and those of our partners, lead to much better everything. Better communication, better love, better grace all around.
Just the pause and the right kind of tone and question can give our partner and our own self a feeling of being heard, validated, listened to, joined, loved. We don't have to agree; we just have to be willing to be curious before being explaining or arguing. We have to be willing to pause long enough for the muck to get sorted through and more layers revealed.
It's hard when we feel wronged or deprived. And we don't really do it so naturally. We have to practice. To help ourselves to want to be open and curious about different levels of understanding our psyches and our partner's psyches. To not be tied always to our worst beliefs about them or about ourselves. But if we don't allow for a new way of approaching things, where else is there to go?
Monday, January 14, 2013
But when I heard this sentiment, it resonated with me because it is the emotional experience of many of the men and women I work with who are in relationships that feel unsatisfying, difficult or frustrating. It reflects the sensation that comes along with feeling minimized, compartmentalized, or unappreciated. And disconnected emotionally.
Many people experience this feeling in many of their relationships. Others, only in their primary one. Men will often tell me that they feel that their wife is capable of tuning into their partnership needs - for a well run home, good feelings, support, sex, food, companionship - but that they don't feel she shows up really, that she gets caught up in her own feelings and needs and does not deliver for him. That while she takes care of the kids or the house in some ways, she does not really give him the idea that he is successful, useful and appreciated and that she wants to partner with him.
Women say the same thing, but in a different way. That they believe their husbands could call more, talk more, pitch in more, care more, love more, pay attention better but that they don't really step up. Somehow they think they are showing up by earning money (and they are), or pitching in now and then, or what seems like now and then only. But it does feel like enough, and that they are focused more on their own needs for an uninterrupted work life, some guy time, or down time, not on her need for emotional connection.
The pain picks up when the focus becomes what we don't get, what we don't have and when the feelings of being unappreciated, over burdened and misunderstood get maximized and the feelings of what we do have, what we do get become minimized.
We can most always benefit by studying how our own histories in our own earlier lives have shaped our emotional receptors, and we can most always benefit from tuning into the idea that when we get further and further into the feeling of being offered everything but being given nothing that we can begin to break our relationships and our partner instead of building them.
When the feelings get too big, too hot, too painful, it's hard to refocus on how to build. We forget that it's even possible. That there are positives, and that most likely we do get, and sometimes more that we think we do, more than we feel it. And that it is possible to have and feel more and better if we take a good serious look at how react to what we feel, and what we believe and why.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
I'm not necessarily a New Year's Resolution kind of person, but it is a time for reflection and perhaps redefinition of our selves and I think, yet another opportunity to expand our choices and move forward.