Stormy Weather – Part 2 of 5

 In Blog, Effective Dialogue, Satisfying Relationships

(Time to read: ~ 4 minutes)

Last time we talked about my idea that how we handle the storms that arise – in ourselves and in others – determines the quality of our relationships.

And that it is possible to effectively harness the power of those storms. So that they become like strong winds that drive the wind turbines of our relationships – generating power and benefits for everyone.

2 – Address things that aren’t working

…when they are small, and in effective ways.

For some of us, this is easy. For others of us, it’s hard.

We either talk about things that aren’t working when we’re angry – which asks the other person to do a lot of work if they’re going to stay in compassionate connection with us – or we wait until we cool off, and then tell ourselves “It’s no big deal” or “It’s over now” or “It’s not worth bothering to bring it up again.”

But if we don’t address things that aren’t working for us, they become like termites, eating away at our relationship’s structure and weakening it, so it is less able to withstand stormy weather.

The problem is that much of what we see modeled in our culture about how to address problems isn’t really very effective in the context of an ongoing relationship.

For example, I notice my first impulse is often to talk to the other person about the situation, even though I (and many of my clients) rarely report satisfying results when we start with this step.

And even if we do eventually get to a satisfying end point, there’s generally the sense that the process could have been much easier for everyone.

Here’s the most effective series of steps I’ve found:

  1. Start by finding a safe, confidential place to vent. (NOT with the other person in the relationship)
    I sometimes wish it weren’t so, but it does seem that it’s hard for us to get to the heart of the matter without the opportunity to express freely what’s up for us in exactly the words that feel true for us at the time.
    Some people find a journal effective for this. Others notice that they really need the supportive presence of another human being.
    The kind of person I look for is:
    – Someone to whom you can express everything that’s up for you about the problem in whatever way feels authentic for you in the moment, without feeling judged or evaluated.
    – They won’t give you advice,
    – Or try to explain the other person’s needs to you.
    – They won’t try to “help” you by telling the other person what you’ve said (which I’ve never found ends up being helpful, however well-meant the intention)
    – Nor will they tell anyone else who knows you or the other person.
    This is a form of support I enjoy offering – if you’re curious, see the bottom of this email. And you may already have other people in your life who provide this quality of space for you, in which case I celebrate with you, and encourage you to connect with them.
  2. Take the time to identify what needs you are longing to meet more fully in this relationship. Let yourself mourn that they aren’t met right now.
  3. Look for ways that you can single-handedly meet those needs more effectively in the relationship, especially in the problem situation. Pick one strategy that you think would also work for the other person. Consider trying it out. Often doing this in imagination for a while first works best.
    For example, perhaps walk around for a week noticing situations in which the problem occurs. Imagine how you might apply your strategy and notice how you feel.
    Any feelings of discomfort are letting you know that something in you would value a modified strategy. How could you alter your strategy so that part would also feel comfortable? Try out this new strategy in imagination until you find you really want to try it “for real”.

For now, I’ll suggest that you NOT plan to have a conversation about any of the problems on your mind. In the next 3 articles in this series, I have some additional suggestions that I’ve found make such conversations shorter and easier, and more consistently produce a mutually satisfying result.

What’s Your Next Step?

At any point in time, I find that we’re generally in one of three places:

  1. The #1 problem area in a relationship is already very clear to you
  2. You’re aware of a number of problem areas
  3. You’re mind is blank when you try to think of problem areas.

Below I offer specific suggestions for each of these situations. There’s also an overall question at the bottom of the post.

Is the #1 problem area in a relationship already very clear to you?
In that case, would you like to try out the steps outlined above for that area?
Or have you found a different series of steps works better for you and your relationships?

Or are you aware of a bunch of problem areas?
Perhaps you might feel for which one you’d like to try working on first.
Some people find it works best to start small, to build up a feeling of success.
Others find they don’t make progress if they don’t start with the one that’s bothering them the most.
What feels right for your next step?

Or do you find that your mind is blank when you try to think of areas to address?
Maybe you’ve already addressed them all.
Or maybe you’ve borrowed my “going numb” strategy – it’s been so hard to meet your needs that you’ve “put a lid” on your awareness – stopped letting yourself notice the things that aren’t working for you.

In this case, I generally find it is advisable to have skilled, professional support at hand when you start to explore under the lid. There’s generally a lot of powerful energy there, and having help can mean the difference between major storm damage and power that’s expressed in ways that are beneficial for everyone. If you’re curious about working with me, see the bottom of this article.

Is there a next step you want to take?
There’s no pressure and no deadline.
It’s very important that you only take steps that feel right for you.

As always, I invite you to consider the smallest, gentlest, easiest next step toward the relationships you want to create. My experience is that this small, gentle, easy approach consistently yields the most satisfying and sustainable results.

*  *  *  *  *

Click here to see Part 3 in this “Stormy Weather” series

*  *  *  *  *

Are you looking for a safe, confidential place to vent?
Or help in finding “single-handed” strategies?
Or do you sense you’ve “gone numb” – lost connection to what’s not working for you?

Perhaps I can help. I offer three booking options (click on the words in blue to book):

  1. A free, no-obligation time to connect and see if what I offer is a match for what you are seeking.
  2. A brief “Ask Glenda” session (15-60 minutes) to get support with some specific aspect of a situation.
  3. A coaching session (1-2 hours) to find a place of peaceful, self-connected power around a difficult situation, and/or to practice having a challenging conversation in a connecting way.

In all cases, you’ll see an up-to-the-minute picture of my calendar and you can book yourself in at a time that works for you. No phone tag or email chains! You’ll get an automatic email confirmation with a link to use if you need to cancel or reschedule.

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