Ever had an argument with your partner (or, frankly, anyone important in your life)?
Arguments typically go something like this:
The other person gets pissed off and start whinging, shouting, criticising, or worse, refusing to say a damn thing at all.
So then, of course, you get pissed off with them and you both continue to rark each other up.
(and yes, if we’re honest, sometimes the arguments start from our corner too).
In short: One person getting upset results in a race to the bottom of the misery pit.
This. Isn’t. Helpful.
Think about it: where’s the benefit in both of you getting upset? What does that gain you, either of you?
Of course, when someone is going off their nut at us, there’s good reasons why we respond the way we do.
- We want to be heard
- They’re wrong and we’re right
- We want them to love us
- We want them to stop
Let’s take these one at a time, it won’t take long.
WE WANT TO BE HEARD
Do you really think they’re listening while they’re pissed off? No, of course they’re not. Not really. They may grudgingly concede a point, but they’re not REALLY listening, they’re just trying to get to the end of the argument.
If you want to be heard, it’s much, much better to try talking to them when they’re back in a calm, loving space again.
THEY’RE WRONG AND WE’RE RIGHT
So what? Who gives a shit who’s right?
Seriously. In that moment when they’re upset, how is them having an epiphany and realising that they’re wrong going to help them (or you)?
For a start, they’re probably not really even listening to you (see point 1)
Secondly, this is us trying to control them. And nobody likes being controlled. Smartest thing is to let go of that.
WE WANT THEM TO LOVE US
Ok, now this is completely understandable.
When someone we deeply care about is attacking us (or it feels like they’re attacking us), that can hurt.
Why does it hurt? Because we want their approval.
Now, the subtle thing here is, if we want their approval, it’s because we don’t have it (if we already had it, we wouldn’t need to want it, now would we?)
However, by sending out the message that we want, we’re also sending out the message that we lack their approval.
By feeling needy, we become needy.
What’s the solution? It may seem a little paradoxical, but let go of wanting their approval.
Ultimately, you’re better off loving yourself than looking outside for approval. You have infinite love inside yourself – you just have to find and allow it.
The more you let go of wanting love from others, the more you’ll find the love inside yourself.
WE WANT THEM TO STOP
Again, this is wanting to control them.
Hint: IT WON’T WORK.
(it can also be that we want to feel safe in our relationship – but see “feeling needy” above – the same thing applies. Let it go)
Sure, you can control someone, for short periods of time. But ultimately? All that builds in them is resentment and the propensity to lie. In other words, to hide things from you so they can do what they wanted to in the first place.
Here’s a gentle irony. Long time readers will see this coming a mile away. The fastest way to get someone to calm down when they’re upset? BE LOVING.
It’s impossible to fight someone who’s not fighting back. It’s like pushing against air. You run out of steam very quickly.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it some time. When your significant other is upset, to everything they say, reply (in your head) “I love you.” Let go of all non loving thoughts and feelings that arise. Feel as loving as you possible can towards them. Feel your heart open up and envelope them in your love.
Just keep saying “I love you” and watch their resistance dissolve in seconds.
It’s a choice. It’s always a choice.
Sometimes it takes a bit of practice, or we forget, or we’re tired or whatever. But it’s always just a choice. Try choosing to be loving and see what happens.
So if you do want them to stop, (and quickly) let go of wanting to control them and be unconditionally loving instead.
Think about it this way. Why are they upset? Typically, for exactly the same reasons. They want to be heard. If you’re loving? You’ll be listening to them. They want you to love them. Hello? Bingo!
If they do want to control you (and you don’t agree), well, isn’t that conversation going to go a lot better if you’re both in a loving space? If you stay in that place of love, you are the powerful one in the conversation. They will come to you (impossible to fight, remember?)
The other thing that happens here is the more we let go of these reactions inside ourselves and choose to be loving to them, the easier it becomes to love ourselves. To calmly set respectful boundaries. To extricate ourselves from situations that are unhealthy for us. To help grow a mutually supportive, mutually growing and healthy relationship.
Realising that just because our partner is upset doesn’t mean we have to be too is the first step to a massively improved life together.
You can see this really easily with children. When a child gets upset, you have two choices:
- You can let them be the boss – ie, you follow their lead and become upset too
- You can remember that you’re the boss of you, stay in an upbeat, loving place, and let them come to you.
When you stay in a loving space regardless of what’s going on for them, they snap out of it super quickly. Remember, you’re the boss. If you hold a loving space, the child will come to you. You’re the mama duck, whether they realise it or not they’re constantly following your example of how to behave.
You have to let go of all judgement. All criticism. All non loving thoughts – but that’s surprisingly easily done. Just focus ALL your attention on feeling loving towards them. Let every other thought go.
Kids are great to experiment with like this (their moods shift so quickly you’ll have lots of opportunities to practice).
Once you’re comfortable staying loving when a three year old is having a tantrum, you can up the ante to a grown up. Coz really, do we ever truly grow out of this kind of nonsense? We learn more sophisticated ways of expressing ourselves, but our behaviour is often not that different from a three year olds.
Additionally, people we’re not close to are easiest to do this with. The lower the level of emotional connection, the less attached we are to how they react to us.
For example, if some random dude on the street goes nutty it’s relatively easy not to get swept up in his tidal wave of grumpiness.
However, if your partner (or heaven forbid, mother) disses you, it’s a major affront.
We want to be liked by people we like.
We want to be loved by people we love.
Remember the paradox above? If we want something, we’re subtly letting the universe know we don’t have it.
In order to BE loved, we have to let go of WANTING love.
It’s like that old saying – be the person you want to fall in love with.
So, if you want someone to love you, be loving to them – without condition or consideration of reciprocation (that’s the trick, of course).
(Obviously there’s all the usual caveats here about co-dependence, setting healthy boundaries and avoiding being used).
Think of it like holding jelly. If you squeeze it too tight, it’ll all slop out between your fingers.
Same thing here.
And you don’t want your love slopping out between your fingers, now do you? No, of course not.
The challenging thing is – how much someone needs love is directly proportional to how much of a pain in the ass they’re being.
You could easily put a positive spin on this though. The more upset someone is, the more powerfully you’ll affect them by staying loving.
You’re not gonna make much difference to someone’s life if they’re already in a happy and loving place.
If they’re upset though? You being loving, caring, supportive is EXACTLY what they need. Staying loving is the most loving thing you can do for them.
Best of all, if you don’t get it right this time (and you both end up upset), there’ll always be plenty more chances to practice until you learn to stay happy and loving no matter what.
Being happy – isn’t that we all want?