Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Ridiculously Good Relationship Series Week 1: How to Communicate With Your Partner

All of us have needs and desires that are essential to our well-being. A fulfilling relationship helps fill those wants and needs for both partners. Most partners want to be able to fulfill the other's needs, but the necessary component for this to occur successfully is something that most relationships lack....proper communication.

Proper communication is an art. It is the most necessary of skills involved in a happy relationship, whether it be platonic or romantic. Unfortunately, proper communication is a skill that most people do not develop. Many great relationships and connections fail due to a lack of understanding. Fortunately, this gap in understanding can be easily closed.

The Most Important Part of Communication
I think the most important aspect of communication is clarity. Clarity is the goal when it comes to speaking your truth and listening to another's. Clarity is the golden standard, and reaching it means that proper communication has been performed.

When clarity is achieved, both parties are on the same page. The message is translated flawlessly from one person to another. There is common and steady ground from which to build from.

How do you get clarity?
For the speaker, being able to communicate with clarity means that they know what they want to convey. Knowing what one wants to convey requires a bit of thought, introspection, and conviction.

Everyone knows how hard it is to listen to and understand someone who isn't sure of what they are saying and who is still in the midst of figuring out what their message is. The best way to avoid this is to know what the purpose of one's message is.

For example, if you are upset because you feel like your partner hasn't been paying enough attention to you, then the purpose behind speaking to your partner about the issue is getting more attention. That is the main goal. That is the priority.

In order to achieve that goal, it is helpful to understand what is keeping that goal from happening. Therein lies another purpose: understanding why the partner has not been giving as much attention lately.

From there on, the solution can be worked on.

In that example, there are only 3 purposes behind communication. If the speaker thinks about those 3 purposes before confronting their partner, they will gain much more insight and clarity. This is definitely a reminder to think before you speak.

Thinking before you speak is best done when you're calm and composed. If you try to speak to your partner about an issue when you are fired up, you will destroy the clarity you want to achieve. Your emotions will get the best of you, you won't be able to think coherently, and you will lose purpose behind your message. Your partner will also find it very difficult to even want to understand you when you are screaming at them or throwing angry insults, etc.

To cap this section off, as someone who wants to get what they want from their partner, you have to think of the purpose behind your message (what do you want), calm down, and communicate your feelings and concerns with clarity. Keep your message streamlined and to the point. Make it as simple as possible. Be vulnerable.

Now the other very important aspect of proper communication is LISTENING.

I am afraid that most of us are pretty bad listeners. Proper listening entails really trying to understand what the speaker is saying, instead of reacting to their message.

That is a very important point there- to listen properly, we have to take in the message and refrain from responding. We can't be getting angry at all of their concerns and accusations and questions. We can't react angrily because of their tone. We have to choose to take it all in, and then respond.

Proper listening requires us to put our initial reactions on the backburner so that we may properly empathize with our partner and gain understanding of what they are trying to convey. We have to imagine ourselves as them and put ourselves into their shoes. We have to see their point of view, even though we may not agree with it.

Seeing another's point of view does not mean we have to agree with it or adopt it. It simply means we have gained enough perspective into their reality that we have gained clarity.

To cap this off, a proper listener tries to really take in what is being said and conveyed, and does not focus primarily on how it is being conveyed (tone), or reacting to what is being said.

From then on, the speaker and listener change roles and discuss the issue at hand.

To take the pressure off the discussion, some helpful reassurances to communicate are:

  • you don't need a definite answer now
  • you can take time to think about it more before responding
  • the solution doesn't have to be found right now
Proper communication can still take time no matter how much clarity and will to understand one another is present. Communication is a process, and it is more so a process that reflects our own inner transformation as we interact with a world that we help create. Our words do so much to pave our realities- communication is how we create our lives. 

Happy communicating!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to Get Over Things and Stop Being So Upset

How to Get Over Things and Stop Being So Upset

Disappointment sucks. It sucks almost as much as the fact that disappointment is a part of life. It is guaranteed.
And unfortunately, what isn’t guaranteed is the ability to get over those mishaps in an effective way.

We tend to mope around and stay mad/angry/sad/low energy about whatever bothered us. Although I know that accepting and acknowledging our emotions is vital to living well and being ridiculously good at life, I also know that having power and control over our emotional energy is even more crucial.

Something bugs us. Our partner forgets to do something they said they would do. Our boss snaps at something we aren’t responsible for. The douche bag with the excessively loud mufflers cuts us off again.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Instead, we get what we really don’t want.

Most of us would be very reactive. We’d immediately bring out the blame guns and start pointing them at everyone else. The other people are making us feel this way, the other people are responsible for our emotions. We give away our power and let the momentum of negativity drag us deeper and deeper into the draining waves of disappointment and anger.

This can ruin an entire day or week. It can ruin a client meeting or an entire relationship. With enough reactivity, we can ruin our entire lives by constantly giving away our power and constantly indulging in the bad feelings.

Why is it so easy?
When we feel bad, it is so easy to feel bad. Feeling bad is a justification in itself. We feel angry/sad/upset because something/someone else ruined a scenario. We’re right! We’re correct! They did it! It’s not my fault, it’s their fault. They are wrong and I am right and I am going to continue to be right even at the expense of my emotional stability.

It is so easy to hold onto blame and get sucked into the negativity. We don’t really have much resistance to negative feelings when we feel wronged or targeted or abused. What we do have (and have a lot of) is resistance to the solution.

When our partner apologizes once, we resist them and insist in direct ways or passive aggressive ways that they should continue to feel bad for doing what they did. Instead of discussing the situation, finding a solution, and taking action towards that resolution, we spend our energy feeling hurt. When someone gives us criticism we think is unnecessary, we turn that person into a monster in our minds and find absolutely everything wrong with them. We alienate them and get lost in our pain.

We just keep focusing on what’s wrong and refuse to move on.

How do you move on?

You have to decide to move on.

It can be that simple. Usually it isn’t, but with enough practice, it can be (most of the time).

First, you’ll be very bad at it. But if you keep resolving to move on, if you keep committing to move on, then you’ll be very good at moving on. You might not even react in a way that leads you into a mood you need to move on from.

You have to let it go.

How to Let Go:

Some people say you should focus on the issue. I agree, but I think you should focus on the issue when you’re in a mindset that is very different from the mindset that caused the negative emotions to come flooding in.

Distracting yourself works when you focus on something that makes you feel better. Focus on something that makes you feel more at ease, more balanced, and more lighthearted. Get your mind off the subject that is bugging you by doing something you enjoy.

Go cook a nutritious meal. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Hug your pets and loved ones. Smell the flowers. Drink some tea. Watch a funny show or movie. Do something that makes you feel good.

Once you feel better, you can move onto the next step.

Perspective offers us more understanding and insight. With perspective, little things that got us so annoyed just don’t seem worth it. Trivial problems are revealed for what they are.

With perspective, we can laugh at ourselves for getting so wound up. We can forgive ourselves for being so stressed out and address our need to adopt a better attitude and be more proactive about the challenges and conflicts in our lives.

With perspective, we can see the way out. We can find a better route to where we want to go, and we no longer feel held back and stuck.

So how do you welcome perspective?

To gain perspective, you need to see things from a different view. Distracting yourself and feeling better releases a lot of the negative momentum keeping you stuck in a narrow, destructive viewpoint. Naturally, feeling better allows your mind to expand and explore different interpretations of your reality.

To further help you gain perspective, ask a friend or loved one who is generally positive (if you ask a jaded person, you’re just going to fuel your fire). Read some quotes online. Read some articles. Put yourself in another person’s shoes. How would someone you look up to see your situation? Be creative and open.

When curiosity replaces your need to be right about your pain, perspective and insight flow in effortlessly.

With a better mood, a better mindset, and better perspective, you are much better equipped to deal with the situation, if it even needs to be dealt with at all. Sometimes the things that upset us just need to be forgotten. Some things need to be addressed very thoughtfully. Practice your ability to distinguish between the two. Keep practicing, and you’ll respond to situations more instead of reacting to them, and that equals a lot less stress and emotional outbursts in the future ;)

Take it easy.