Embodied Wisdom

Embodied Wisdom

Embodied Wisdom

I notice my body’s ability to move after the initial shock.
I shift to fill in the space of the surprise,
I flow into the uncertainty.
Internal wisdom in moments of uncontrol.

-Jane Tornatore

Seven Tips for How to Have a Fight

Seven Tips for How to Have a Fight

I just had what could have been a very painful conversation with a good friend of mine.  It could have been, but it wasn’t.  At one point she stopped and said, “This is going a LOT better than I expected.”  I wholeheartedly, and with no small amount of relief, agreed.
I was pondering why it went so well.

It was a superstar of a conversation because of these elements we both contributed to our discussion. Read below for 7 tips to effectively resolve conflict.

 1. Do your best to avoid saying “you” as in “you are the problem”

We both used “I statements.” I statements are when you say what you are feeling because of the situation. Here is an example: “I am feeling angry because I don’t feel heard sometimes.”

Here is what NOT to say: “You make me so angry when you purposefully ignore me!”

Here is the secret of I statements. When humans hear the word “you” they start defending themselves, even if they don’t know what they need to defend against.

Think about it, when someone says to you, “When you…” your brain immediately starts coming up with reasons you didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t even need to know what the other person thinks you did “wrong.”

As soon as you use the word “you” when complaining, the other person immediately becomes less available to what you are saying. So whenever possible use “I” in your communication.

2.  Say what you are feeling, not that they are creating your feeling in you.

Consider these two ways of saying the same thing: 1) “I am angry because we are leaving late for the airport and I had asked that we be ready to leave 15 minutes ago” and, 2) You make me so angry when you continually ignore the fact that I get anxious when we don’t have plenty of time at the airport.” It is much harder for someone to sound reasonable if they say, “you shouldn’t be angry” than if they say, “You shouldn’t let that obviously tiny, inconsequential thing I did bother you.” If you focus on the feeling rather than the action, you will get more to the root of what is going on, rather than the surface irritant. In the example above, the root is not feeling listened to, not the airport leaving time.

3.  Don’t create motivations or feelings for the other person’s behavior.

There are two problems with telling the other person what their motive is: 1) They can argue with you about what their motive is vs focusing on what you want to change; and 2) you are very possibly wrong. I know, that seems completely unbelievable when you think you have been wronged. When we feel we have been wronged, our ego does a lovely job at convincing us our interpretation of events is the only possible interpretation. And…you are still possibly wrong.

4.  Remain curious.

I can’t emphasize this enough. I’m not sure why, but it is impossible to be curious and judgmental at the same time. We can’t be curious about what the other person is thinking and feeling and think they are a moron. Really listen to the other person. Try to see the situation from their perspective, not just how their words do/do not fit into your own narrative.

When I aired my complaints to my friend, she said, “I’m curious, are you talking about the present or last year?” She didn’t say, “I haven’t done that since last year, aren’t you paying attention (you moron)!”

5.  Be compassionate.

This fits in with seeing it from their perspective, but it goes deeper. The perspective shift is almost an intellectual process, whereas being compassionate or having empathy is more rooted in feeling. Both can be helpful. Compassion opens our heart. A closed heart makes for a good you-versus-me fight. Sometimes I rest my hand on my heart to help me remember to keep my heart open.

6.  Stay focused on the topic instead of creating an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink argument.

This type of argument is when we bring in all the problems we have every had with the other person. This is a favorite tactic to make ourselves look more wronged and better than the other person. (You may not think you are doing this but notice how you feel when you are listing everything the other person has done wrong.) We cannot solve everything and the kitchen sink in one conversation. We can make progress on a single issue.

7.  In the beginning, at the end, and (if you can) during the conversation, tell the person what you appreciate about them.

As I was talking with my friend, I was telling her what I have appreciated about her throughout our friendship. As I was telling her, I felt my heart open, and she also felt my love for her. You can bet both of us became less tense and more gentle because of that.

These tips work for me. Try them and see if your next fight becomes a discussion that clears the air and draws you closer. It is possible to leave the conversation feeling more intimate rather than angrier and more distant.

That’s what you really want when you start the conversation, right?

Take care,

Change Your Relationship to Your Things & Change Your Life

Change Your Relationship to Your Things & Change Your Life

(Image by Anne Dirkse)

This idea was put forth in “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. She posits that when we have trouble letting go of a possession, it is because it symbolizes an attachment to the past, a desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both.

I recently got rid of a BUNCH of clothing. I kept taking deep breaths, and asking for hugs as I was doing it. (I had assistance; I wouldn’t recommend doing it alone. I used the marvelous Michael Bruce Image Consulting .)

For about a week after, I felt an increased level of anxiety. Because I am a therapist, this made me curious.

I realized I was definitely attached to my clothing. I had lots of it, which gave me a sense of security. I was in grad school for many years…I didn’t have a lot of money, but I had a lot of clothes.

I was also worried about the future; what will I wear for different moods? What if I want to hide and wear something that helps me fade into the background? (Bruce and Bec helped me let those garments go.)

Marie Kondo states this quandary beautifully…

“It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.”

I had decided I want to be more visible in the world, hence the change in attire. I was attached to not standing out, to being part of the crowd, not in the forefront. My clothing reflected that.

I decided I wanted to let go of my fears of being seen. Now my clothing makes more of a statement. How do I know? People tell me. (I’m still getting used to that.) More importantly, I walk in the world differently. I am more confident, I stand taller. Literally.

So, investigate this in your one life. Luckily, you don’t have to change your whole wardrobe. But if there is something you are holding onto, even if it doesn’t bring you joy, ask yourself “Am I having trouble letting go of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear of the future?”

When we let go of what we hold onto because of fear, we have more room to let in what brings us joy.

You want an easy self-help tip? Change your relationship to your possessions and change your life. Let go of what does not bring you joy.

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