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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: July 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

(Can You?) Get Curious Before You Get Hurt

It's easier said than done of course.  But it's a good mantra to keep in mind.

When couples come in to work out all the various bumps and bruises - some serious and some less so - that are part of growing, deepening and maintaining a solid relationship, getting curious can really go a long way.

Here's what I mean:

Most of time when someone - especially someone we love/need/want/rely on - says or does something that hurts us - we get bad feelings.  Especially if we feel misunderstood, betrayed, disrespected, or unimportant.

We feel the bad feelings and we act or react, and often things spin out from there.

But if we can slow ourselves down, just a bit, and get curious first, we can often get relief.  It doesn't mean we should not feel how we feel, or should not allow ourselves to know and have all of our feelings - but there is something to be said for learning more about ourselves and about the person who has hurt us. 

As we are feeling our feelings, we can ask some gentle questions like "What may have set the stage for his/her (comment, behavior, feeling)?"  Or "What is bothering him//her that may have led to this?"  Or "What fears, doubts, insecurities does s/he have that may be operating under the surface?" "What may I have said or done that might have contributed to the circumstances?"  "What am I afraid of that may be blocking me from responding differently?"

The answers are not necessarily excuses or allowances, but sometimes when we are willing to get curious first, we can see a bigger, deeper picture - a picture that is often true of the human condition and of the power of our unconscious minds.  It can bring us some understanding,  And sometimes that may help us respond and feel differently.  It may make all the difference in what happens next.

Sometimes it also may mean that we have to acknowledge that we are not always who we want to be, and that people we love may not always be able to give to us the way we want them to or think we deserve.  But when we get curious we can often work with ourselves and with those we count on and look to new and better ways of being and feeling.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"I Only Knew Me"

My friend D recently decided to put her three year old in summer camp.  A sweet and short few hours a day at a day camp would give her daughter some social time and her a breather on a few summer mornings.  It was good camp and the only glitch was that her little girl would probably not know anyone else at the beginning.  D was a little concerned about how that would go but decided to try it anyway.

When she picked her up the first day, her daughter ran happily over to her.  D asked her "So, how'd it go?" "Fine!" said her daughter.  D asks her "Did you know anyone?"  Without a pause, and with a big smile and shrug, her daughter said "I only knew myself."

So D tells me that she this amazed her.  And together we marveled at her daughter's words and what they meant.

I'm sure we imbued a little.... but perhaps not too much - and anyway-why not get from it what we did, which was this:
How much better life can be and is when we are comfortable in our own skin, and when our relationship with our self is in order.
What a good feeling to feel like we know ourselves and that that is enough sometimes.  And that what we know is good.  Even and especially (for us grown ups)  if that includes knowing our shortcomings, our fears and our needs.  And how relieving if we know that even when our needs may not always be met, or met deeply enough, that we can deal well with new situations, difficult people, difficult relationships, difficult feelings and still feel safe.

We don't have to always have the answers but being open and interested in the search can bring  peace to our inner world and ease our path in our outer world.