I recently received this comment from a colleague who unsubscribed from my e-mail list: "I just have too many emails coming into my box, I need to streamline, you understand!" I certainly do understand.
You can’t always choose how life is going to go, but if you pay attention to the roles that simply take over and lead you nowhere, you can begin, as Katherine models, to select what roles you want to play. And that enables you to steer the relationSHIP to safety in rough waters.
Katherine got into the car, and immediately felt Steve’s lousy mood suck all the air out of it. “Oh no,” she thought. She knew Steve wasn’t thrilled about going to visit her brother’s family. It was a chilly winter Sunday. He wanted to lounge about, watch the games, and stay put. But she expressed it was important to her and he had agreed to go. Does he always have to punish me with his mood? she wondered, agitatedly. She was...
Sheila and Tracy found themselves arguing mercilessly about logistics. Who was doing more household tasks? How was the middle child going to get to piano on Wednesday? When would Tracy have time to go back to yoga? Who was going to figure out the logistics of getting them to a family reunion in August? The stress became overwhelming, and threatened to destroy them.
We know the limitations of avoiding big conversations and feelings in relationship on a regular basis, so avoidance is obviously not recommended as a long term strategy. But it can be used in moments, in small doses, as in the story above, to preserve a more important, agreed upon value.
You would think that after witnessing so many women in the sheer agony of childbirth, she would be prepared. But this tough, very contained woman tantrum-ing around her ceremonial home-birth apartment and threatening to go to the hospital for drugs, reminded me that no amount of theory or witnessing can prepare you for actual experience.
All through dinner prep and catching up with my friend, I breathed into my discomfort as I focused my full attention on him. My task was to really reconnect with my friend. We swapped stories and smiles, and even with the nagging provocation hangover, I was enjoying the reunion. About halfway through the meal, a miraculous thing happened. . .
We were celebrating the successful launch of my good friend’s new amazing business. We had already had a glass of champagne and were on our way to another. But the jovial feeling at the gathering was put at risk when my good friend pulled me aside and asked, "Can I ask your professional opinion about something?"