The Stress Reducing Conversation

What happens when you are stressed or upset about something outside of your relationship and you turn to your partner to share? Is he or she able to relieve stress for you and be a true source of support? Or do you often feel even more alone after trying to vent and share?

Many couples seem to struggle with the difference between being supportive and helpful, and trying to “fix” things for each other. When our partner presents a problem to us, we often end up trying to fix it or solve it. We try to come up with advice or a solution. This approach on its own is as if we are saying, “You are not smart enough to solve this problem yourself, so let me do this for you.” We skip important steps by doing this.

Stress Reducing Conversation 1

 

The “Masters of Relationships”, as Drs John and Julie Gottman call couples who are successful at communicating and connecting, have a different approach when stress occurs in their partner’s life. Here are four steps to follow in the footsteps of the “Masters”.

  1. Ask Questions

First, you listen well and you show interest by asking your partner questions that allow you to get a better understanding what your partner’s subjective experience is.  For example, “how are you feeling about that?” or “what worries you most?” You are trying to understand WHAT your partner is feeling.

  1. Empathize With our Partner’s Feelings

Your second step is to empathize with your partner. Empathy sounds, for example, like this: “I can see why you feel upset / worried about that”, or “No wonder you are pretty angry”, or “It sounds like you had a really challenging day”. You are just making a statement about HOW your partner feels.

  1. Don’t side with the “enemy”

You always take your partner’s side in the matter. The goal of a stress reducing conversation is to help your partner feel less alone with what is stressing them out. One of the worst things to feel when you are stressed is that you are all by yourself. Even if you agree with the criticism or response your partner was experiencing from another, this is not the time to side with the other person. Postpone problem solving and refrain from pointing out that you agree with their opponent. Instead, just empathize with how your partner feels. That way you stay honest about your own thoughts, but at the same time you can show your partner support. You can be their ally and best friend and help relieve their stress by allowing them to share.

Stress Reducing Conversation 2.jpg

  1. Don’t problem solve for your partner

Before you offer solutions, ask your partner what their thoughts are in regards to shifting a situation or solving a problem. Trust your partner to have good insights and some ideas on what to do. If your partner asks you for your perspective or for solutions, you can offer to solve the problem together. Fixing is not helping, neither your partner, nor your relationship.

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Angelika

Relationship Coaching and Belief Changes

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Your Mother’s Story

I was flipping through the birthday calendar which my girls made for me last year for Mother’s day and which is filled with quotes about mothers, when my eye got caught on a particular quote:

Mother's Story - There is a story

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”

Mitch Albom

 

I have been reading a fascinating book by Bryan Sykes called “The Seven Daughters of Eve”. In his book, Sykes, who is a leading DNA scientist, gives a report of his research into a specific gene, which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line. After examining thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world, Sykes found that almost everyone of native European descent, wherever they may live throughout the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, seven “clan mother’s” who he calls the Seven Daughters of Eve.

His book is written almost like a mystery novel, but what really intrigued me was this idea itself: As Caucasians, we can all trace our history back to the woman who was our ancestor and lived 10,000 to 45,000 years ago.

Usually, we barely think back two or three generations. What is your mother’s story? And what is the story of your mother’s mother? Do you know it?

Mother's Story - book

My mother’s story is one of courage and new beginnings. She grew up during World War II, which pretty much robbed her of any care-free childhood. When she was 21, her mother died and soon after, she packed her suitcase to move to Spain. She learned Spanish and made Barcelona her new home. As a woman in the fifties, coming from a working class background, she never had the privilege of a higher education, yet she made her way in life, working in a bank and later on as a secretary. If she wanted something, she set her mind to it and made it happen. When she was in her early thirties, she set out for yet another adventure, accepting a job in Liberia, Africa where she met my father. Getting married and having children was another new start. And ten years later, she moved to Africa again with her husband and her daughters, this time Nigeria.

My mother’s story is also one of a lot of suppressed pain, grief and other painful emotions. She lost her own mother when she was young and never processed that loss. I hardly know anything about my grandmother’s story because my mother couldn’t speak about her without breaking down in tears. So I stopped asking. Due to all the unprocessed experiences, my mom struggled with addictions, with anorexia and alcohol. She had a hard time with getting older and with life slowing down. She didn’t do “calm” very well. Staying still and being present was “torture” for her. It must have scared her a lot to stop. She loved activity, like talking, laughing, dancing, exercising, playing sports and travelling. The ancestral healing process which Dhebi DeWitz describes in her book “The Messenger Within” is one way of bringing healing to previous generations.

Ruth Monrovia

My story begins when my mother was 37 years old. Back in the sixties, that was old to be a first time mother. She stayed active though, and always looked younger than she was. She was at times a bit overprotective, but she was present, taking on the unfamiliar role of the homemaker, and made the best out of what she felt was expected of her. She encouraged education and understood the longing to discover other horizons. When I moved to Malaysia in my late twenties, and to Canada in my early thirties, she was sad, but at the same time, completely supportive. She understood all about new beginnings.

For me, one way to honour my mom’s story is to encourage my own girls to embrace life to the fullest, to travel, to seize opportunities that come along, to be a master of their own destiny. That for me is a huge part of their grandmother’s legacy. I also believe another part of her legacy is for me and them to learn from her errors. My mom never had the opportunity to process her grief or learn how to address her emotions in a healthy way, to heal her pain. She searched for relief in distractions. Her granddaughters, on the other hand, have all the tools to live life more consciously and I am very grateful to say that they do.

Mother's Day card

 

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

If you are interested in grief recovery work, shadow work, belief changes or relationship coaching contact

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Do not ask me not to feel!

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my daughters on stage as Marianne Dashwood in the play “Sense and Sensibility”, based on Jane Austin’s novel. It was an amazing performance, drawing you in with laughter and tears, and transporting you back to England in 1792.

The confining atmosphere of society gossip and the desperation of many of the female characters to need to make a good match leaves you with an eerie feeling. The necessity of marrying well is one of the central themes of the story. In Austen’s era, a woman’s survival depended on her ability to acquire a husband, if possible, an affluent one. The more manipulative and cunning women were often the ones who ended up winning this game for the wealthy spouses. Yet, the two main female characters, Elinor and Marianne, end up finding true love and happiness without manipulation.

Sense and Sensibility, sisters and beaus

Performance and photography by Cawthra Park Secondary School

I could muse on the Universal theme of being rejected in love, or the patriarchal society and how patriarchal beliefs still affect us at a subconscious level today. However, what fascinates me most is the relationship of the two eldest Dashwood sisters. In the development of the story, the friendships of the sisters and what they learn from each other is at least as important as their relationships with their love interests.

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are complete opposites. Every female reader or audience member can identify with either the older one or the younger one. They are a perfect example for how siblings carry each others shadow traits. Elinor is all “sense” and reason, while Marianne represents “sensibility” and feelings. Elinor makes cautious decisions based on rational considerations, on what is prudent and proper, while Marianne lives life impulsively and on an emotional roller coaster of extreme highs and lows, being guided by her feelings alone.

Sense and Sensibility, Elinor

Neither one of them is “whole”, as they have disowned the opposite energy represented by their sister. Just as Marianne needs to learn to adopt some of Elinor’s restraint and not to wear all her feelings on her sleeve, Elinor can learn to express her deeper emotions, warmth and spontaneity more.

We all have different primary personality parts and other more disowned parts or sub-personalities. As we witness Marianne’s impulsiveness which throws all caution or restraint to the wind, we recognize that part in all of us. We might anticipate and fear disaster for her as the story unfolds. We feel disappointment and sorrow when her love relationship with John Willoughby does not unfold as she anticipated.

Sense and Sensibility, Marianne

Marianne’s sorrow is frightening to Elinor, who just wants her sister to stop sobbing and to compose herself. But Marianne cannot help but live life from her primary self of passion. She exclaims, “Leave me, hate me, forget me, but do not ask me not to feel!” After almost dying from a serious fever and her “broken heart”, Marianne eventually learns to appreciate the value of a quieter and less glamorous admirer in the older Colonel Brandon. She begins to embrace the more level-headed energy which Elinor has been mirroring for her. She also has to forgive John Willoughby for breaking her heart and let go of the past to move forward with the Colonel, the better man.

Sense and Sensibility, Marianne sick

The story invites us to examine where in our lives we are out of balance between our rational and emotional sides, between caution and impulsiveness, between wearing a mask of civility and being our spontaneous and honest self. The plot calls us to consider how we show up in our relationships: passive or active, reluctant or forward-moving, polite or authentic. We are also encouraged to examine if we are stuck in the past and if we need to forgive somebody and let go, in order to move forward in our relationships.

We all grow up identifying with certain traits or parts in us and rejecting others. Jane Austin’s tale invites us to discover what we have disowned which might be useful to us. Accepting the ambivalence and moving beyond dualistic thinking of right and wrong, black and white, involves re-conceptualizing who we think we are and opening up to greater wholeness of our deeper selves.

What traits do you identify with and which opposite traits or shadows have you perhaps disowned? Do you feel judgment towards people who display what you have rejected for yourself? How does this affect you in your life or hold you back in your relationships?

Shadow work is one of the techniques I use as a Life Coach. If you are curious to find out more, contact me for a FREE phone consultation.

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

You can also check the “Upcoming Workshops” schedule for the next four-day Shadow Energetics training or contact me for individual sessions.

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.