5 Winning Strategies in Relationships

In one of my last articles, I outlined five interactions which are useless and damaging to your relationships, especially in our close loving partnerships. Here are five winning strategies, as Terry Real describes in his recording, “Fierce Intimacy”.

  1. Go After What You Want – Express Your Needs 

Express what you want and need and be assertive about getting it. Terry Real calls it “daring to rock the boat”, which is scary at times, especially when we seem to be cruising along smoothly. If we are overidentified with our Pleaser Part or our Peaceful Part, because we received the message during childhood that we will only be loved if we go along with everything, it can be terrifying to rock the boat. There are two things to consider. Firstly, it is your birthright to be in an equal cherishing relationship in which both partner’s needs are met. The second thing to realize is that if you do not find your voice and speak up for your needs and wants, resentment begins to grow, and resentment is a poison that slowly erodes the love between you and your partner. To stay with our metaphor, resentment drills little holes into your relationship boat.

Sometimes we have this idea that we should not have to ask for what we want and need and that our partner should just know what our needs are if he/she really loved us. Our partner is not a mind reader. We set them and ourselves up for failure with this attitude!

Furthermore, help your partner to succeed by telling him or her up front what you need or want instead of waiting for them to fail. Be encouraging and affirm your partner’s efforts by giving positive feedback. Terry Real calls this “celebrating the glass being 15% full”. If the glass was 5% full beforehand, this is a reason to celebrate and thus encourage your partner to keep going. With our children, we naturally do that. If your son or daughter made an improvement in school from a D to a C, you give them reinforcement to keep going and to eventually get to a B.

 

  1. Speak to Make Things Better 

Speak to your partner with love. Before you speak, drop down into your heart and speak from there. If you are too triggered to do that, take a time out until you are able to interact from a more centred place. Remind yourself that you want to speak to make repairs not to make things worse. Learn how to be assertive and loving at the same time. Make sure your partner knows that you love them but that you also need to respect yourself and your needs and feelings.

Make very clear requests using I-statements. There is nothing you need to say that cannot be phrased as a subjective I statement. This helps us to stay away from judgments or accusing the other person. One method for good communication is the five steps of the non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg as described in my article “Having Our Needs met in Relationships“.

Speak respectfully and be prepared that not all your requests will be met. You could say “I would like to talk to you about… Is this a good time?” We need to be able to also tolerate small disappointments. Your partner might reply, “I am tired right now. Can we talk about this tomorrow?” Terry Real even takes it so far as to say we need to “celebrate the no”. Celebrating the no means to be proud of your partner when they say “no” to take care of themselves and meet their own needs, and be proud of yourself for being adaptable and grow-up when you don’t get everything you want in the moment when you want it.

 

  1. Listen to understand 

Before we can respond, we need to really listen. Getting defensive, whether that is out loud or in our heads, is not true listening. We need to put our own feelings aside while we are listening. Listening is also not about arguing about the facts and wanting to be right. Wanting to be right is one of the 5 losing strategies. Listening means entering into your partner’s subjective experience. What do they feel and how do they see things? Be a friendly interviewer who really wants to understand the perspective of the other person.

Remember that as a couple, you are in each other’s care. Or keep Terry Real’s analogy in mind that you are at a customer service or support desk. When a customer complains that their new electric kettle does not work, they don’t want to hear from you that your toaster does not work. Your only concern is to listen to them and tend to their issue in that moment in time, until it is your turn at the customer service window. When your partner comes to you in a state of upset, you are in their service.

Remember that nobody thinks they are irrational. Their feelings and interpretations of reality make sense to them. It is your job to be curious about what makes sense to them. It is your job to help your distraught partner to get back into harmony and closeness with you because that is good for your relationship and therefore is also good for you. Terry Real calls this stance “Enlightened Self-Interest”.

 

  1. Respond with Generosity 

Our first impulse might be to deny that we have done something or to explain why we have done something. That way of responding was termed “leading with an argument” by Terry Real, because it usually is the beginning of an argument. Instead, acknowledge your partner’s experience or feelings and take responsibility for your part in the issue. You might need to lead with a sincere apology, or at least an honest acknowledgement of what you have done or not done.

Image by JenDigitalArt from Pixabay

That disarms your partner, deescalates the conflict, and allows you to make repairs. Terry Real calls this skill “relational jujitsu”. You don’t oppose the force. You yield to the energy coming at you and turn it into a more harmonic energy. Admittedly, that is not an easy feast to accomplish, because we have been taught to respond to power with equal or greater aggression. When we meet aggression and respond with generosity and gentleness, the aggression runs into emptiness.

On the side of the partner who receives an apology or an attempt to improve, “responding with generosity” means to gracefully accept the repair. This is not the moment to be picky. You might not get all you wanted, but if you get 70% of what you have been asking for, that is a sign that your partner wants to cooperate and make peace. Accept the peace offering! Respond with a “thank you” for listening to you and meeting your requests.

The next step is to ask what you can give your partner. Find out what they need from you to make the changes you have asked for. You are on the same team, so you want to help them come through for you. This is relational empowerment rather than personal empowerment. Our society tends to encourage personal empowerment at the expense of our relationships. I am of course not saying that our personal growth and empowerment is not important, but we need a balance in order to live well functioning relationships.

 

  1. Cherish what you have 

Cherishing is a powerful change agent. Terry Real believes “this one winning strategy is equal in potential to all of the other strategies combined”. The best way to get more of what you want in a relationship is by appreciating what you are already getting. Whatever we give energy to, or pay attention to, grows and becomes more. We have the choice to focus on the steps forward, on the progress.

Why is that sometimes so hard?

Real intimacy, closeness and vulnerability can be scary for many of us. Fights can serve as a distance regulator. Complaining about what we are not getting helps to keep the distance between us and our partner, instead of truly opening up our heart and acknowledging everything we are getting. Fights keep us tied into each other but at a certain distance. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Fights are an opportunity to experience that the other one cares enough to be triggered by us and to feel close but not so close and enmeshed that it creates fear or panic. So what if, instead of starting a fight each time our inner child feels too vulnerable, we would express that we feel scared or that we need a bit of distance?

Terry Real calls the lack of gratitude towards our partner “having ADD, Appreciation Deficiency Disorder”. The ratio of negative feedback to positive appreciation is often out of balance in relationships. We need to engage in active appreciation several times each day.

Once our partner starts to give us more of what we have asked for, the challenge is to receive it gracefully and to cherish what we are getting. So if you hear yourself disqualifying what they are giving, e.g. “you are not doing it right”, or “you are only doing it because I asked for it”, or “you are doing it now but you didn’t do it then or you won’t do it in the future”, be curious about what is actually going on.

Sometimes we also have an attachment or belief system that keeps us from having happy and healthy relationships. We do something that Terry Real calls “keeping a parent spiritual company” by living in the same world they live in, e.g. being mistrustful like your father, or being passive aggressive like your mother, or overidentified with independence like your father, or overemotional like your mother, or too easygoing and disconnected from our own needs like your father and so on. When we try to move beyond that it might feel disloyal to the respective parent.

At other times, we might be invested in not wanting to be like one (or both) of our parents at all costs. For example, not wanting to take advantage of your spouse like you experienced your mother doing, or not wanting to abuse power like your father did and so on. When we identify with the opposite of an energy we are equally not whole and not able to create a balanced relationship. Moving into happiness in all those cases is synonymous with separating from our family. That’s were belief change techniques like PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics come in to change our subconscious programs.

If you dare to move beyond your parents and you dare to be happier, more vulnerable and more intimate than they were able to be, you are forging into new territory for your whole ancestral line. You are changing the future for your children and grandchildren, who will receive a different legacy because they now have new role models.

 

For individual sessions or couples sessions, please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Groundhog Day – Communication Styles

“Just tell me right out what is wrong!” says our exchange student. And I can’t help but feel that this situation is quite surreal. I came to Canada from Germany 16 years ago and have since adapted to the Anglo-American indirect communication style. I can still feel that need to blurt right out what I am feeling bubble up at times but I dutifully squelch it—most of the time—because I have learned such uninhibited “vomiting” of thoughts or feelings will not be well received.

So for almost three weeks I have been saying things like, “Your dishes can go into the dishwasher. The frying pan needs to be washed in the sink,” and I assumed, based on my current social environment, this would translate into, “Please put your dishes into the dishwasher and clean the frying pan after you have used it.” I have also been saying, “Do you have an alarm on your phone you can set for in the mornings?” instead of “Please set your alarm for 6:30 and get up by yourself.” And “Please text us your plans,” instead of “We are having dinner at 8:00. If you are not planning to be home for dinner, please let us know ahead of time.”

It is not that this direct way of speech is unfamiliar to me. Had I been speaking in German, I would have automatically slipped into those phrases in German. But with the language and cultural context, I had made assumptions. I expected the receiver of my communication to be capable of inferring from my words to the meta-message.

communication - responsibility lies with sender

We make assumptions all the time. Do you have a family member or co-worker who is not responding to what you are trying to convey? Does it feel like they don’t hear you? We can feel so alone and get really frustrated when that occurs. However, we need to keep in mind that the responsibility for communication always lies with the sender.  Communication is successful when the sender’s message is correctly received and understood. Therefore, it is the sender’s responsibility to communicate clearly and effectively and to check the understanding of the delivered message.

I had not done that. I had found myself in a rendition of Groundhog Day, where each morning the almost 18-year-old man needed to be kicked out of bed after oversleeping, and where each morning, after his departure, the dirty frying pan and spatula were sitting on top of the stove and the unwashed plate and cup in the sink. What does Bill Murray do in Groundhog Day? He first goes crazy until he decides to let go and enjoy himself in the ever repeating reality.

Groundhog-Day

If you are feeling like it’s Groundhog Day, you neither have to go crazy, nor just let it go. You have the key to ending the miscommunication by changing your end of it. That might be the content of your messages, the tone of your voice, the non-verbal signals, or all of the above. When communication is not working, it’s not the receiver’s fault. Too often, we make people wrong in the process of not being able to get through to them. Their communication style is not wrong, just different.

Sometimes when communication is frustrating we feel irritated and annoyed. That sends additional interfering messages to the person at the receiving end. They feel not good enough in some way, perhaps like a burden, or unappreciated, or lectured to, or criticized. Step one is to check your communication honestly for that destructive energy. When we can perceive the receiver as willing and capable, our meta-message is one of trust and respect, instead of annoyed superiority.

Step two, change the choice of your words and double check the result. You might have to try out something completely different that you have not tried yet, and monitor the result. Sometimes your words might be too indirect; at other times the words might have too much edge. Do you perhaps need to use gentler start ups to ensure your receiver remains open to receiving your communication?

I am glad our Groundhog Days at home are over. I am very impressed by how us adapting our communication style slightly has allowed our exchange student to also adapt to planning ahead and being very considerate. Communication can create frustration, but when successful, communication creates wonderful bonds of connection.

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.

Please check out the upcoming relationship workshop which will include tools for more successful communication, especially for conflicts.

Angelika Baum

Belief Change and Relationship Coach

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Having Our Needs Met in Relationships

She looks at her watch and says in annoyed tone: “You are home late, again! You always come home late! Do you have to go to the Gym after work every day?”

His reply is defensive: “Yes, I do! That’s the only time I have to myself. You don’t ask me for permission to have your hair done or your nails! You like to go into work early at least three or four times a week and I always have to take the kids to school instead of going to the Gym.”

She retorts angrily: “You make it sound as if I only think of myself but I am working full time like you and I am sitting home alone with the kids, every night after I have run them around to their classes. You never help me! Once in a while, you could come home earlier and make dinner for everybody!”

This was the role play my partner and I acted out for one of my talks on non-violent communication just a couple of weeks ago. When I introduce my clients to the four steps of NVC, based on Marshall Rosenberg’s work, they seem so easy and straightforward. Yet, it is so ingrained in most of us to have conversations in which one or both people get defensive and feel attacked due to us using generalized critical statements and blaming each other. When we do not feel safe in a conversation, our fight or flight response sets in. We either attack, or we withdraw and shut down. Despite the anger on the surface, deep down both partners long for nothing more than a safe space to connect and express how they feel underneath the anger.

IMG_3345 cropped

Let’s look at how we can change these patterns of defending, withdrawing and attacking, using our example. What are the needs of both parents? She has the need for support; he has the need for alone time. They both have the need for recognition of what they do.

Based on those needs what do they feel? She feels alone and unsupported, he feels controlled. They both feel unappreciated.

Before you read on, put yourself in her shoes and using the four steps of non-violent communication find a more successful way of expressing her feelings, explaining her needs, and finishing with a concrete request made to her husband. Remember to make neutral observations free of judgments in regards to him going to the Gym. Then use “I” statements which reflect that she is taking responsibility for her own feelings. Nobody makes us feel a certain way. Our feelings are a result of the meaning we give our perceptions. Next help her express her needs, values or desires which are at the root of her feelings. End with a request that can be negotiated between the partners.

NVC 4 Steps

Here is one possible way for her to communicate using the four steps of NVC and a calm neutral tone: “I have NOTICED (step 1) that you tend to go to the gym after work and by the time you come home, the kids need to go to bed. I FEEL (step 2) a bit left alone when you come home late almost every night. I WOULD LIKE to (step 3) spend more family time with you and the kids. WOULD YOU BE WILLING (step 4) to come home earlier once or twice a week, so we can spend more time together?

Now, let’s not forget that he also has feelings and needs. How can we help him express his side of the situation?

He could for example say: “I FEEL (step 2) that I only have time after work to exercise. I NEED (step 3) to have some alone time. I also FEEL (step 2) unappreciated and taken for granted when I give my gym time in the morning up to take the kids to school. I really appreciate that you work full-time and run the kids to their after-school activities.” (He has recognized they both feel unappreciated and is giving her the appreciation they both need.) Step 4 is negotiating her request: “I am willing to come home early on Tuesdays and Thursdays if you can commit to taking them to school the next morning? I WOULD also sometimes LIKE to hear that you appreciate what I do.”

Now it is up to her to respond, to acknowledge what he does for the family and to perhaps make a concrete request to cook dinner once a week. If one of the partners is struggling to connect with their feelings and the needs underneath, the other one can help by asking, “I am wondering if you feel…?” or saying “Do you perhaps have a need for…?” and offering, “Let me know how I can help you get what you need.” Implementing a process like NVC takes patience and practice because most of us have never learned that our needs matter, how to connect with our more vulnerable feelings underneath our anger and to express our needs without blame or judgement.

To learn more about expressing our needs you can contact

Angelika for individual sessions or Shadow Energetics Workshops

905-286-9466 or

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

For 2016 workshop dates and locations go to Upcoming Workshops.

If you enjoy my posts, 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.

 

The Five Blind Men and the Elephant

blindmen & elephant

Have you heard the Asian tale of the five blind men and the elephant? Five blind men come upon an elephant. They have never heard of an elephant. The first man feels a leg of the elephant. He says, “Ah, I know what this is! An elephant is a pillar!” The second man grabs the tail. “Ah,” he concludes, “an elephant is a rope.” The third man touches the trunk and decides an elephant is a snake. The fourth one happens to touch the ear and decides an elephant must be a hand fan. And the fifth one upon touching the tusk is convinced an elephant is a spear.

All five of them have only perceived part of the truth. All five of them have also interpreted their perception based on their old subjective experiences and beliefs about the world. They are only able to interpret what their functioning sense of touch picks up based on the individual “bucket” of beliefs and experiences they come from.

One of the hardest things for us humans seems to be not to jump to conclusions, to remember that our perception is limited and that facts only become a story based on our interpretations. In her book, “My Stroke of Insight”, Jill Bolte-Taylor describes well how our left brain, which she calls our “story teller”, perceives certain facts and how it fills in the gaps between these facts with an interpretation or meaning. We create our story based on those facts. When we come across more facts, we need to revise our interpretation, as the original story otherwise doesn’t match all the facts.

blindmen & elephant leg QUOTE

James N Miller is certainly not alone. Even though I am aware of how our brain functions, it still happens to me that I jump to conclusions. The other day, I sent an email to somebody asking the person for a favour and I did not hear back. I assumed she was reluctant to meet my request. A couple of weeks later, I found out I had sent the email to one of her e-mail addresses which she doesn’t use much. Instead of jumping to a conclusion based on a fear that my request would not be met, I should have followed up again by phone.

blindmen & elephant trunk QUOTEWhen we have children and they come home from school with a story about their day, we sometimes as parents tend to jump to conclusions because we only hear their side of the story. We are convinced the teacher or another child has not treated our child well. As a mother, I had to remind myself several times over the past twenty plus years of the “in dubio pro reo” principle. If there is any doubt or possibility that I have not gathered all the Intel, I should not judge, yet.

Thankfully, I was a teacher for many years and have seen parents show up in school with only part of the story, or with a misinterpretation based either on limited facts or on their own expectations or beliefs about school, or both. Yet, my first response as a mother still was to feel protective of my daughter and want to call up the school to defend her. The reminder that I need to gather more facts before I jump to the conclusion that somebody has treated my child unfairly saved me from making a fool of myself a few times.

Teachers also appreciate when they are approached calmly by a concerned parent. As parents, we can be strong advocates for our children without getting angry and accusing anybody. Having been on both ends of the table, I know that non-violent communication works best and teaches our children that we can talk about any problems.

My mother was passionate and expressive. Even though she wasn’t Italian, she could easily have passed as the proverbial Italian. Happiness was loud, she had the greatest laugh, and so was anger. She was often jumping to conclusions and getting angry at my teachers. Part of me understood she wanted to protect me, another part was really embarrassed by her response. It wasn’t productive. The older I became, I told my mother less and less about school, because I was afraid she would create problems where there were none. Whenever I feel the impulse to defend my children, I remind myself what it was like to have a mother who acts impulsively.

With all our interactions, let’s remember that everybody perceives a situation through their own filters. There is no absolute truth. We are only capable of perceiving an aspect of the truth based on the facts we have access to, our beliefs and our previous experiences. Next time we feel ready to judge a person or situation, let’s keep in mind that we might not have the whole picture, just like the five blind men with the elephant.

blindmen & elephant tusk QUOTE

Angelika

Belief Change Coaching

Hypnosis & PSYCH-K®

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you are enjoying my posts 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.

Communicating More Successfully

When I coach couples, or parents and children, the main issue is usually communication. One of the big shifts that can be made in their relationship happens by changing their way of interacting and communicating with each other.

When we judge and criticise others, they feel unloved. When we use general statements like “You always…”, we label them and push them into a corner. When we blame them, they shut down. When we want to change another person, he or she feels “not good enough”. When we try to fix them, we are forgetting that everybody–no matter what age–is perfect, whole, complete and resourceful. We all have the answers and the solutions for change inside us.

By communicating from a place of love and acceptance, you can help the other person open up to change. Successful communication uses “I” statements, expresses how YOU feel without judgement or blame and ends with a concrete request from your side, so your family member, friend or colleague knows what you need.

Marshall Rosenberg in his acclaimed book “Nonviolent Communication” explains the NVC Process as follows:

1.      State the concrete actions you have OBSERVED that affect you.

2.      Share how you FEEL in relation to what you have observed.

3.      Explain the NEEDS, values, desires etc. that create your feelings.

4.      Make a concrete REQUEST in order to improve a situation or relationship.

 

One example for non-violent communication is:

“I have NOTICED that you spend a lot of time at the gym. I FEEL a bit left out when you come home late almost every night. I WOULD LIKE to spend more quality time with. WOULD YOU BE WILLING to come home earlier once or twice a week, so we can spend more time together?”

Another example is:

“When you make negative comments about my family I FEEL criticised and embarrassed. I love them as much as I love you. I NEED to feel I can see them whenever I want. WOULD YOU BE WILLING to keep negative comments to yourself, or to focus on the good sides they all have?”

By using those steps, we are showing the willingness to be emotionally responsible and the willingness to talk straight. We are taking responsibility for our own feelings, and acknowledging our needs. Nobody makes us feel a certain way; that is an inside job. By communicating our feelings clearly, we are in integrity in our relationships.

We are also making clear requests, not demands. How do you know when you have made a request, not a demand? If it is a true request the other person has a choice to say “no”.

For Relationship Coaching contact Angelika

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

Your Have Response-ability

Most of us have, at one point, lived in a mindset where we believed that “life just happens to us”. We have pointed at people or circumstances outside ourselves to explain why we are feeling a certain way, why we are suffering somehow, or why we just cannot manifest our dreams and reach our goals. The state of perceiving the world in that way is called victim consciousness.

In this state of our evolution as an individual we have not yet understood that we are powerful creators of our reality. Nobody can make us feel a certain way without our permission. Whatever shows up in our world is a reflection of what is going on inside us. We are creating 100% of the time but are perhaps making conscious choices only 10% of the time. 90% of our creations come from the subconscious mind. Our experiences are a reflection of the beliefs and fears inside us. We respond to the world based on our belief systems.

Moving out of that victim consciousness requires taking self-responsibility. That might at first sound unpleasant or hard. However, “response-ability” broken down means that we all have the ability to respond to whatever shows up in our experience in whichever way we choose. We are free to make any choice in any given moment. Any beliefs that hold us back from making empowered choices can be changed.

The first step is to realize that a law of cause and effect operates in this universe. By taking full responsibility for our choices, decisions, and responses, we take a huge step toward creating more consciously. Blaming others empowers outside influences to dictate who we should be or what we should do.

The common factor in all our relationships and all our experiences is us. We send out energy to everybody and everything we interact with. That vibration that we send out has an effect on our relationships and all situations that we find ourselves in. Once we realize that taking responsibility gives us back control over our life, we manifest more of the reality that we want to see.

 

Taking responsibility for ourselves and for how we live our relationships requires…

1.         The willingness to be emotionally responsible. This means noticing how we feel and admitting to ourselves what we feel.

2.         The willingness to take responsibility. Taking responsibility is not about “right” or “wrong”. We are aware that our thoughts, words and actions are part of how the relationship unfolds. That is our contribution to it, our response-ability.

3.         The willingness to talk straight: to speak up, no matter what the other person wants to hear. Talking straight does not mean blaming others. It means communicating without judgments, criticisms or attacks. It means communicating only what we have observed, what we feel in regards to what we perceive, and what our needs are. We can then make a concrete request. The other person is free to respond affirmatively or not. Just as we have the response-ability for our life, so does everybody we interact with.

 

 

For belief change work and to fully claim your response-ability contact me at

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466