Reminder: My topic every day this month is “stressful relationships”— Please go to askevelynbrooks.com and tell me what your biggest stress is, especially if it’s related to a relationship (“relationship” can mean your marriage, dating, friendship, boss or coworker, your kids, family members, etc.). I’ll do my best to answer your questions here in a post! (And don’t worry, it’s confidential, so I won’t use your name or email address.)
This weekend we’re looking at reconnecting and being honest about our feelings… so let’s add “lovingkindness” to the mix and see how much you can reduce the stress level of your relationship.
What does it mean, practically speaking? It sounds lofty and wonderful, but how do you put it into effect in a relationship that is highly stressed? If you’re in a long-term verbally abusive relationship, a codependent relationship, or anything of that “type” even if you haven’t headed into the darkest regions of abuse “yet” it may seem impossible to say something nice to your partner without choking on the words.
I’ll assume that if you’re in a stressed relationship, the other person is the one with the controlling temper, and you are the one who has gotten caught up in the merry-go-round of trying to figure out what to say and do to keep them from exploding or otherwise making life unpleasant. The reason I make this assumption is that the verbally abusive person is usually pretty content with the status quo, other than feeling that you don’t do enough for them (and that’s their perception: even if you tie yourself in knots to please them, it’s never “enough” to satisfy their demands – they simply raise the ante and accuse you of being selfish and cold). In most cases, it is the hapless “victim” or target of all the crazymaking who ends up trying desperately to figure out what is wrong with them.
It’s beyond the scope of this blog to tell you whether you should go or stay, but since you are there right now, why not at least do things that build your own self-esteem? Stop the backbiting. Stop saying cruel things even if it is only muttered under your breath or thought silently in your head or whispered as you walk away, shaking at the latest verbal assault from them.
Here are a few things to try:
- Make a list — yes another list, they really do help you focus your thinking — and memorize a few short phrases that are loving, kind and polite.
- Build in a few “I am grateful” phrases as well, specifying something that the other person does for you or for the household that you are genuinely grateful about. It could be something minor such as “I am grateful you take out the trash. That’s really a treat for me that I don’t have to do it!”
- Make a promise to yourself that each day you will say three nice “lovingkindness” phrases to your partner.
- Don’t expect miracles. Don’t expect thanks. Don’t expect that the other person will suddenly awaken spiritually and shower you with compliments and loving remarks in return.
- Do this for yourself. When you detach yourself from the cycle of saying/thinking unkind things about your partner, you open the door for loving thoughts to enter. You will be able to see the person for the damaged soul they are, and you’ll be able to treat them with more compassion while learning to protect yourself from the abuse and cruelty and crazymaking.
your happiness guru,