- Ricka Robb Kohnstamm
What is that prickly thing I just bumped into?
We all bump into prickly things, sometimes many of them, multiple times a day.
It might look like the time when you finally were on vacation with your family and your practice partners called you with several sticky problems and an expectation that you would solve them.
Or it might look like the child who calls you from school (just as you were starting client calls) and says "Mom, I don't like it here; come and get me, I want to come home."
Or maybe it is the spouse who blows up with overwhelm when they feel you aren't adequately accommodating their needs.
When we are in close relationship with people, we bump into lots of prickly things - some are tiny, some are huge, some can be predicted, some are unexpected, they all feel at least momentarily uncomfortable and they usually throw us off, sometimes into a tailspin.
As you think about what feels prickly to you, consider this one super important thing...
When something feels prickly, it tells you about you.
I often hear this kind of thing in session (notice the external focus):
"If only she would do it a different way, I wouldn't feel annoyed."
"He should know me better by now, we have been married for 27 years."
"My partners know the strain I am under, why would they do this to me?"
"My daughter knows how much I love her, why does she reject me like this?"
Pause and breathe... and let's flip it around to internal ownership and awareness so that we can look at what is really happening.
"I feel so annoyed. This isn't about my friend, my annoyance tells me something about me. When I think about it, I realize her actions remind me of something my mom used to do and it brings up old stuff for me. It is really uncomfortable. I can take a look at that and own my reaction."
"I feel impatient with my partner. This isn't about my partner, my impatience tells me something about me. When my partner does something over and over that doesn't resonate with me perhaps it is because I am not communicating clearly about my needs. It is my job to communicate clearly, think about why this bothers me, and hold kind boundaries. "
"Yes, I feel super stressed leading our practice. This isn't about my partners, my stress levels tell me something about me. I recognize that I might come off as controlling and my partners might be afraid of screwing things up, so they hand the project back to me. Their intent is probably not to drive me crazy. I will get curious and have a conversation with them, then we can move forward."
"When my daughter slams her door it feels like she is rejecting me and I get afraid. This isn't about my daughter, my stirred up fear tells me something about me. When I get super honest with myself, I recognize that I am afraid of losing her. I can be patient and grounded and give her space; it is not her job to take care of me, it is my job to take care of me."
Notice and realign your thoughts and your actions to make sure your actions serve a healthy purpose for others and for yourself, and then speak from an "I" perspective, always with kindness. "I choose to..." "I am willing to..." "I want to..." "I am aware..."
As always, actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.