EVERYone in EVERY Relationship Is Good At This
No question about it.
The thing is, do you like the results you produce?
Are you happy? Having a good time?
Are things going smoothly in your relationship?
Do you understand each other? When you are at odds, do you know how to recover?
Do you trust that together, things turn out better than either one of you could have imagined or planned on your own?
CRASH. BANG. BOOM.
In a session with a couple recently, I was working with a woman who had pretty much hit bottom.
It’s that moment of reckoning when you see and finally face the results you’ve produced in your relationship and you don’t like it at all.
She sobbed. She was horrified. She said she felt nauseous.
Her husband looked on with full attention and complete compassion. He didn’t say a word for a very long time. He was a supportive presence and that was huge. It was what was needed.
I have to admit that part of me had been shielding my eyes and covering my ears in anticipation of the inevitable cr-aaaa-sssssshhhhh, sort of like what they say about the big California earthquake — it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN.
And the other part of me was was cheering her on. It seemed that she was headed for a peak experience of some kind, so I might as well help her go for it.
Well, true to her adventurous spirit, she went for it.
When she managed to bring everything to a grand crescendo, her world came crashing down around her in the space of one evening and the next morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so awful.
In our session, after venting for about 20 minutes, she finally came to a standstill. She became more quiet and contemplative. I could tell she was beginning to look around the debris field to survey the damage.
I told her it’s a most beautiful place to HAVE ARRIVED because you can actually see and experience what you’ve created for yourself — and — the really, really good news — from HERE, you can even see how you did it.
It’s not pretty, but it’s revealing as heck.
So she looked around, down there in the bottom of her barrel of unhappiness and dissatisfaction and grief. She investigated, she groped, she picked up what was there and bravely took a look at each thing, one by one, just long enough to see what was there in her hands.
Even in the despairingly dim light of yuck-and-OMG, she saw things with more crystal clarity than ever, and began the process of understanding the implications of what she had created.
Pretty good stuff, I’d say.
What did she see?
Well, she saw results you get when you compare yourself to others, judge yourself or take an unfair measuring stick to every. single. thing. you. do.
It’s a hard way to go. But I have to hand it to her — she did it REALLY WELL. She was consistent.
In the process, however, she managed to make herself miserable and (sometimes, well, often…) her hardy (thank goodness) husband.
AND THE MEASURING STICK SAYS…
She could see the effects of her measuring stick:
- Oh, it’s not that he is not including me, it’s not that he is shutting me out, I’m actually doing this to myself. I see it! Whoa. And then I’m pointing the finger, blaming him. Wow.
- When I’m jealous, I’ve judge myself as “less than.” And then I don’t participate. I kick my own darn self out of the game. Geesh.
- And when I think everyone else is more successful, smarter, more accomplished than me, I set myself apart. I dub myself as different, and then I complain about it. I get it. Wow.
- I act as if “it’s all about me” and I’m the center of the Universe. That’s really boring and exclusive and nobody wants to play with me. ‘Cause it’s all about me and not about them (that’s not fun for them.) Then I say, “see they don’t like me.” I separated myself from others yet again. Wow, I’m pretty good at this.
- And when he’s having fun with other people, and I’m not having fun (on my own or with other people,) and I complain about it… yeah, yeah, I see what I’m doing… I’m separating myself from others and accusing others of shutting me out or not liking me. I’m doing it to myself. Yep, I get it. Well, hall-le-friggin-lu-yah! Wow!
By the way, we say “Wow” often in my consulting sessions! It’s a word that can express amazement instead of self-criticism. “Wow” has a celebratory, thumbs-up kind of tone to it. We like that word around here.
And she continued with gusto, with many examples of what she could see from this new view from the bottom of the barrel. Oh say can you see! By the dawn’s early light!
We spoke about the perfection of her crash — what brought her to that point and how she had orchestrated it all so perfectly. We talked about the results she had produced, the damage, and the utter unworkability of playing small and being self-critical.
And then she started to laugh… and laugh… at the absurdity of it all!
I love when that happens!
And her blessed husband reached over, took her hand and said, “I love you. You teach me things I never knew I needed to know.”
And he went happily off to work.
And she took out a kleenex, laid it over her face and fell back in her chair and giggled. She was all tuckered out. And in this case, that was a very good thing.
Ahhh… now that’s better!