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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Emotional Mountains or Mole Hills

Monday, May 20, 2013

Emotional Mountains or Mole Hills

One of the great discussions that happens here in the office is this:  how is it that what is so very important to one person can be so much less important to another?  

It seems like a no-brainer of a question really, but it pops up in all kinds of different ways when we are working out our relationship issues, our character issues and our emotional pain.   Why is it that what feels so big, so important, so meaningful to one of us, means less or packs a smaller emotional punch to another.

Some folks need more emotional connection and more emotionally packed conversations.  Others need more "quantity" time.  Some of us need a lot of contact with our family of origin, extended family or friends.  Others need more alone time,  marital time, time with the kids.  Some of us value more material things, others more spiritual. 

Some folks prioritize physical health, some emotional, some spiritual.

Some of us need a clean house, for others messier is fine.  Some of us think that cooking for a spouse is crucial;  some value gifts, remembering birthdays, anniversaries or favorite foods. 

So on the surface it all seems reasonable, rational, understandable. Workable.

Except when these things get infused with expectations, and when they become the barometer for determining  or defining our self worth or the worth of others.  And more so when they become the barometer for how much we are loved or honored or cared for in the relationship.

I'm not saying they don't matter.  They do.  It's just that differing on these things does not necessarily mean we are not loved or valued.  When we push our own priorities too far, we may be pushing other good things away as well.

We all draw our lines in the sand.  We determine how much we are willing to give and why.  How much are willing to tolerate.  We make our own terms and we decide how far we are willing to go to sacrifice our terms in order to stay with a person or in a situation. 

And sometimes we think, "if he did this, then I would do that."  Or "if she would just.....then I would...." and there is truth to this.  We do negotiate terms, but often, we view ourselves as the one who is doing all the giving.  And sometimes we are doing more or less at any given time.

I think we do better, though, when have an idea about what our emotional mountains are, and what others' are. And when we accept them, and not argue them down, or infuse our own with too much power, we have a better chance of feeling better and getting and giving more. 

Our emotional mountains and mole hills are usually what they are because of what has shaped us earlier in life, even if we are only mildly aware of it.

It's not that we should tone down what we need (though sometimes that's one right thing to work on),  or that we should not aim to honor and respect the needs of our partners, it's just that we have to consider that our mountains may be someone else's molehill and we have to work with that. They are not always a sign of love and value.  There's more too it than that.

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