Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.Fred Rogers (p. 13, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember) #thanksmisterrogers
What better place to learn about ourselves than with our partner?
Steve Starts to Learn about Himself
Steve (not his real name) used to react to his wife’s criticism. It didn’t seem constructive enough. It hurt his feelings. He didn’t feel good enough. Instead of saying that he felt hurt, sometimes, he would deny whatever she had complained about. At other times, he would say, “it’s not such a big deal.” Then, if he really felt hurt, he would blame her. “It’s your fault that I did that.” Over time, he realized that some (or a lot) of what his wife said was true. It just stung, and he reacted. He tried to ask for it to come in a more gentle way, and his wife tried to do that most of the time. He learned a lot about himself.
Kernal of Truth
Harville Hendrix says that, in most complaints, there is a kernel of truth. Instead of reacting, what if we try to respond? Acknowledge the complaint. Let them know that you heard what you said. If you need to apologize, try to do so.
If you cannot do that, take some space. Let your partner know you will try to return when you can respond in a way that you will feel good about. Make sure you keep your word and come back when you promised. If you are a little upset, take 20 minutes for the adrenaline to calm down. If you are really upset, you may need hours to calm down.
Reflect on What You Need
Then, ask questions. What if we became curious? Ask yourself about what part is true? What are you learning about yourself? You are probably learning what your needs are among other things.
What Are Needs?
If you have no clue about what your needs are, you can start look at this brief post on needs.
Think about What’s Working
What is working in getting those needs met? What is not working? How could I do it better? How could I heal (if you need that)?
There you go! You have learned a little something about yourself.
If you need more help with your relationship, please visit my contact page or call me at 719-460-4185.