“You always work“
You never listen”
“It’s so unfair I always have to do everything?“
Whether or not these are accusations said about you by your child or your partner – they usually mark the beginning of one thing for most of us:
The power of our inner dragon
Our inner dragon awakens – prepares for fight and leaps to our defence in a bid to set the record straight. Especially when we can prove that what is being said isn’t true.
“How can he say that about me. It’s so not true. “
What follows -rarely if ever – leads to anything that brings us closer. It can’t. Because we’re blinded by an insistence on OBJECTIVE REALITY.
What ACTUALLY happened.
How thing ACTUALLY are.
And so a fruitless discussion begins – which usually end in tears and hurt feelings and a great deal of frustration.
This is the main reason our conflicts never transform and can leave us stuck in the same ‘he said – she said’ loop for years. This kills our intimate relationships – not just the one we share with our partner – but also the one we share with our child.
When we don’t feel heard and understood – our anger and resentment starts mounting. We imagine that the way forward is external:
If only my partner would change.
If only my child would just understand.
But they most likely won’t and nor do they actually need to.
Objective vs subjective reality
Because where feelings and intimate relationships are concerned – objective truth is not important. What matters is SUBJECTIVE reality. Not THE FACTS. When we defend and insist on getting clear on what actually happened and whether or not the other is right to feel the way they feel – it becomes virtually impossible to hear each other. And hearing each other out – EVEN when we don’t agree – is what has the power to transform relationships.
“Is that what it feels like..I always work?”
“It sounds like you miss me”
“You got really upset – what’s going on for you”?
“Help me understand”
“Walk me through it”
“I don’t feel I do… could you tell me more”?
You might think to yourself.
You are suggesting I say these nice understanding things to my child or partner who have just offended me?
Yes! And I know it feels like putting down your guns and weapons. And that the fear is that you’ll be squashed. Eaten up. Become smaller.
But what happens is – you’ll actually do the opposite.
You will expand. For each time you acknowledge the dragon wanting to roar – and you manage to tell him ‘I’ve to this’.
For every time you resist defending against your loved one’s feelings and frustrations – by needing to be right and building your case – and instead trust that – like children – feelings just want to be seen and acknowledged.
Doing the same thing over and over again each time expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Einstein said that. And he was right.
Yes – there are better ways of communicating our frustrations than presenting us with accusations beginning with
‘Always / never’
But this is not within our control. And children will rarely be able to express themselves with more nuance when they’re in the grip of a big emotion.
So know that you have got a lot more power than you think. That through your response – and even if you are the only one who does anything differently – you will effect a different outcome.
The good news is – you get to practice in the safety of the people who love you.