When I saw this title on a blog post I read, delivered to me from one of my favorite websites – Food 52, I immediately thought - oh yes, this is what I say to people over and over about relationships.
Sometimes when someone is doing something we don’t like, we find it very difficult to are about why they are doing/saying it, and we find it very easy to label them as wrong. Some things are just so awful to hurtful to us, we lose our capacity to react any other way.
Has this happened to you? You really want to understand what motivated someone to do something —you sometimes even think you are trying to understand what motivated someone to do something. Your voice is pleasant, you insist that you really are curious. Yet, when it comes down to it, you really are furious, or disappointed, maybe full of despair. If you were able to slow it down enough and check in, you would be able to notice it.
One of our deepest needs is connection, and a sense of belonging with each other. And we struggle so much creating that experience with a great deal of the people we know, including our partners, family, friends, and co-workers. Somehow we find ourselves upset, frustrated, confused, and disappointed, over and over.
How can this be? Our most important human need is so challenging to experience.
Let’s use the short answer.
Yesterday I was having a coffee (well, I had the carrot salad and fizzy water) with a friend. This is Kim, a kindred spirit who I am inspired by and with and feel grateful when it works out that we can hang out. We were catching up after her travels; she was on a journey with one of her mentors/spiritual teachers in Mexico.
Our conversation was lovely and lively, and was running deep.
And then, I noticed a shift. It was ever so slight, a move in my seat, a twitch in my face, a noticing of a mild ‘unpleasant’.
Marshall Rosenberg wrote and talked about ‘tragic suicidal ways to get our needs met’. Most couples get into coupledom for the purpose of meaningful connection. Why is this so elusive?
Has this ever happened to you?
You are having an important conversation with your partner (or friend, or co-worker or parent) and it is crystal clear that they (consistently) aren’t understanding what you are saying? You believe they aren’t listening, or they are taking what you say too personally. They get upset when you think they shouldn’t. You are feeling frustrated. You are certain that you are communicating clearly. How could they be misunderstanding you again? Possibly you have tried to have a particular conversation before and run into similar situation. Possibly it happens regularly.
It’s all too annoying.
Sexual chemistry is fun. Our neurological and biochemical response to meeting a mate haven’t evolved much in the past 13,000 years. When you meet a person you like and who likes you, and has the promise of forever, biochemically, your body is telling you that you are safe.
In this day and age, it is often difficult to think in those kinds of practical terms. You just get happy.
This kind of black and white thinking rules us. We learn it from young. You might get a gift from Santa if you are nice, be good or do what your parents want you to do.
However continuing this practice of doing what someone else wants you to do, or ‘because it is nice’ (or good, or right) will only lead you to relationships filled with confusion and resentment.
From Halloween through til New Years, we are bombarded with images of houses to decorate, parties to either perfectly host or joyfully participate in, hundreds of gifts to buy, including gifts to have in your closet so you can give a gift to someone you don’t know well enough to buy a real gift for yet have a gift for them if they happen into your home. Don’t forget all these gifts require wrapping—thank goodness for gift bags and tissue paper. Food shopping, traveling, organizing pet sitting, and the rest of it.
This week I have the opportunity to mourn some interactions I had over the weekend.
What does that mean?
It means that I had some experiences that I feel less than excited about. In the moment they were a bit awkward. I was feeling a bit confused, and disappointed, even a little sad in the moment. Very aware that I wished ‘it’ was different.
I was painting rocks this morning and was reminded of the simplicity of navigating relationships.
Did I really? Did I have to write this?
What would have happened if I didn’t?
There are a wide variety of what could be considered awkward conversations that couples and soon-to-be couples can have. In my opinion the sooner you have them, the more likelihood the relationship will work out. What makes them awkward, of course, is complicated. It depends on the people in the relationship, what they want, their individual communication skills, and communication compatibility as a couple.
Let’s start with this one.
Well, it happened. I got mad. At Steve.
New Year’s Eve. I find the cultural message of a successful celebration of the New Year encourages us to be with lots of people, and to drink a bit, or maybe even a lot?
I have tried that in a variety of ways.
Are you telling people what you think using language that masquerades your story as truth?
I believe the quality of your life depends on a few things, one being the language you use and the words you say. For that reason I offered you this question. I think with a few tweaks here and there in what you say, you will feel more free, more open, more empowered in your life.
When I hear the word vulnerable, certain images come to my mind: A dog or cat, or any animal laying down on its back during a fight. Someone with his or her back to a wall with nowhere to go. Or someone walking down a cobblestone street, in the dark, slightly damp with scary music in the background.
To the disappointment of my trainer, I often read magazines while on the elliptical machine at the gym. A favorite is Real Simple Magazine. I like the pictures, quotes, suggestions and some articles, though I often find myself disagreeing with the advice given in the Life Lessons section. Here’s an example:
We all go through stages of emotional experience. In Nonviolent Communication we identify three primary stages of emotional maturity, the last of which is emotional liberation