Lifeboat Analogy

Intentions vs Expectations shows up in so many ways, I was working with a couple once and we co-created a “Lifeboat” analogy for relationship. Have you experienced that moment in a relationship when all of a sudden you feel like you’re drowning?  Then you see your partner seems to be (metaphorically) safely aboard a boat watching you drown.  The panic, fury, and helplessness can be overwhelming.  The sense of betrayal that they are not reaching out and pulling you back on board the boat!  How could they just watch us drown?  If you’re on the boat not drowning – you are now officially the LIFE boat for the Other.  Save them.  How do we do this?  So many ways, but let’s explore just a few.

First, you need to possess the psychological flexibility so that you have the ability to consciously make contact with the present moment.  If we are not Here more fully, we cannot make behavioural choices that serve our values.  We have to be aware when we are in the Lifeboat situation.

What is the Current Ratio in Your Relationship?

There are a variety of simple ways to be the Lifeboat for your partner.  Research shows that to create a happy, healthy relationship we need a minimum of 5:1 positive interactions and comments for every negative one.

What is the current ratio in your relationship?

Commit to adding one positive interaction per day starting now.

Admire and enjoy out loud the positive qualities of your partner as you notice or think of them.  Generate a culture of generosity of spirit between you.  It feels so good to be seen and heard!  It feels so good to be that person who spreads goodwill.

Be specific in your communication.  Name what you see or hear that is of concern (or delight).  Be clear what you are requiring instead.  “I am noticing you leave the room and I would like 5 minutes of your time to clarify something.”

“I hear you sigh and I’m not sure what you’re communicating.  I need more information about what’s happening.”

Before engaging in communication, take the time to name the style of communication you are seeking: problem solving, venting, listening for understanding, brainstorming, debate.  Be clear about what you need from the conversation.

“I am wondering if I can pick your brain.  Is it OK if I just vent for a minute and then ask you some questions so you can help me figure this out?”

Get Out of Your Head and Drop Down into Your Heart

Actively and specifically name and manage expectations.  Set clear intentions.  Verbalize clearly.  If there is a narrative in your brain that is working against your intentions – shelve it explicitly.  For example, if you notice you’re thinking, “My partner is against me” and it is creating a feeling of antagonism and isolation – question it.  Does this thought help or hurt the relationship?  Is this narrative serving you in the moment?  If not, scrap it.

It’s not enough to make contact with the present moment, but we also need to make a genuine connection with the Other in the moment:  Ask yourself, “How can I do this with more skill so it feels more comfortable/tolerable?  What could I do or think differently to make this easier/feel better?”

“Out” yourself aggressively.  Be explicit.  Use “Radical Transparency” in order to have informed consent to proceed with the interaction.  If one of you reaches out verbally or physically, reach back to complete the connection.  Get out of your head and drop down into your heart.  Tone and curiosity are key to maintaining connection.

Remember in the Shame blog I mentioned the “Four Horsemen” that indicate a relationship is not going to last?  And how in a weird way, it’s not just these 4 elements in romantic relationship that confounds us – it’s in all of our relationships with human beings!  What if we were able to heal ALL of our relationships and create peace in the world?  What if we all learned the antidotes to the 4 Horsemen?

Lets do it with Intention!

#1 Criticism – Attacking the other’s personality or character.

Antidote: “Gentle Startup” – Talk about YOUR feelings using “I statements” and express a positive need.

#2  Contempt – Attacking the other’s sense of self with an intent to insult or abuse.

Antidote: “Appreciation” – Remind yourself of your partner’s positive qualities and find gratitude for their positive actions.

#3 Defensiveness – Victimizing yourself to ward off a perceived attack and reverse the blame.

Antidote: “Take Responsibility” – Accept your partner’s perspective and offer an apology for any wrongdoing.

#4 Stonewalling – Withdrawing to avoid conflict and convey disapproval, distance and separation.

Antidote: “Physiological Self-Soothing” – Take a break and spend that time doing something soothing and distracting to feel better.

If everyone could be on the lookout for these seeds of destruction in all of their relationships and actively apply the antidotes, we would have peace.

Give Peace a chance. 🙂

A Become List rather than a To Do List

While this blog is about relationship, there is no “We” without “I”.  As conscientious partners we need to be continuously refining ourselves (and not just figuring out what the other needs to change).

One thing I have realized along the way is it’s much more powerful to create a “to become” list than a “to do” list.  Whatever we “do” will inevitably become undone.  But whoever we become will last – throughout our life and in how we affect and impact others.

Because of the “Butterfly Effect” we quite possibly reverberate eternally in this world (and into others).  For example, instead of striving to “write a blog”, I want to become the kind of person that reflects, ponders, and then shares my queries with others.  I want to be the kind of person that seeks to understand and generate curiosity and conversation in others.

So instead of framing goals around action steps, I am working on self-development to become the person I want to be.

Rather than seeking to write one song, honing yourself as a beautiful instrument that creates music all the time.

Kathlyn McHugh RCC, RSW Counselling Practice takes place at the Vitality Clinic in the West Shore Area, close to Victoria BC.

Visit the website at: Home – The Vitality Clinic