Nobody wants to be miserable
Lila here~ I started an experiment a few months ago, and have gathered enough research that I can confidently share it with you now, just in time for Festivus, Christmas, or New Years; whichever you celebrate.
It started with a premise that nobody wants to be miserable. Even people that act miserable on a regular basis would rather not feel miserable. But they’re in pain, so they lash out. The pain they feel is the result of feeling unloved, unlovable or unworthy in some way.
If my premise is true, then it stands to reason that snapping back at someone for lashing out in their pain will only make them feel more pain. That becomes a vicious cycle where nobody feels good and arguments never end.
I was tired of beating my head against a wall, having the same discussion with my partner. I remembered that the definition of insanity is when you do the same thing repeatedly expecting different results. Clearly, it was time for different actions, and I was going to be the one to take initiative.
The next time the discussion came up, I took a deep breath. Instead of getting frustrated, I reminded myself that he was in pain. He was feeling unloved, so I opened my heart a little wider. Then I used this strategy to give him the gift of love.
1. Taking deep, even breaths, I visualized sending him love. I pictured him surrounded by a big cloud of unconditional love.
2. I let him speak his piece and kept my mouth shut. When he stopped, I asked if there was anything else he wanted to say.
3. When he said no, I repeated back to him what he had said, and asked him if I’d gotten it right.
4. When he said yes, I asked him what he needed from me. If he’d said no, I’d have asked him to clarify what I got wrong.
5. He made a request for a change of behavior. I didn’t want to do what he requested, so I made a counter proposal. We went back and forth, calmly, until we had a mutually agreeable solution.
The key to success with this method is to remember that your partner is in pain. This is sometimes easier said than done, as their pain can and often does trigger your own pain. If you keep breathing it makes it easier. If you get to step five and tempers flare, return to step one and start over.
Also, when negotiating the change in behavior, keep in mind your partner’s pain. For my partner, in this case he was feeling like we weren’t spending enough time together. I couldn’t change the amount of time we spent, but I could change how present I was willing to be during our time together. The phone gets shut off now so we can make what little time we have really count. That one small change in behavior has diffused months of tension.
Remember, nobody wants to be a black cloud, a rainy day or a sourpuss. They’re in pain, and the gift of love can help relieve their pain.