Marriage advice: This simple piece of advice could save your relationship
Sticks and Stones
I once did a talk in a bookstore and noted that the phrase “Sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us” was inaccurate—thoughtless and cruel words can cause lasting damage, leaving emotional scars that fester long after broken bones have been healed.
There was a songwriter in the audience named Sarah Malcom; she subsequently wrote a song entitled: “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Can Break My Soul.” Time outs are important in relationships because they give time to gather thought and make words PROACTIVE INSTEAD OF REACTIVE.
Holding On To Anger Is Like Drinking Poison and Expecting the Other Person to Die
Instead of holding on to this negativity, you can consciously choose to behave differently. Let’s visualize it together. Picture yourself in that heated moment when you are flooded with anger, resentment, and judgement. What if you were able to feel and acknowledge those emotions without reacting destructively toward yourself or your partner? Remember that you don’t need to be physically or even verbally abusive to be violent.
Even thoughts can be destructive, especially because they are inadvertently reflected in our attitudes and behaviors. For instance, you will become withdrawn and critical during an argument when you’re thinking toxic thoughts. The other person’s negativity feeds off yours, and vice versa, and before you know it you’ve probably both said or done regrettable things. You focus on what is WRONG with your partner and forget what is RIGHT.
Practice observing your brewing emotions and thoughts without getting caught up in them. Instead why not strike when the iron is cold? Let yourself cool down and cool off, and share your feelings and thoughts when you are ready and are capable of clarity and compassion.
You won’t regret it.
Research has shown that time-outs are important for couples. I have worked with several couple who have a code word or sentence. For example, you can say, “We know where this kind of talk ends.” Take a break, take a walk, visit a neighbor. Make agreements that you will return to the subject when cooler heads prevail.
Practice Inner Peace
You never do anything to your partner that you are not doing to yourself. Let toxic feelings blow through you and then pass. Ride out your mental storm. It’s just a cascade of chemicals based on fear. These are waves that wash over you. Haven’t you noticed that it’s much easier to stay afloat when you relax your body rather than when you tense up and panic in the water?
- Storms always pass. There is no need to panic or fear.
- Ride out the storm. Feelings blow through me… feelings blow out of me…
- Later I will analyze the storm. Now I need only observe it. Now I will hang on and pull through.
Later, you will have the clarity of mind to sit down and better analyze the storm, and to understand what caused it. You can also discover the lessons you learned by observing the storm: what feelings and resistance did you notice? What helped you pull through? How could you make this transition easier in the future?
Use the storm as an opportunity to gain new skills to temper your emotional upheavals. Above all, remember that storms are a part of life. You have the power to navigate your way through them. YOU can return to calm clear skies.
“In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer.” camus
To learn more about mindfulness, read an excerpt of “Change Your Story: Change Your Brain” on Amazon.
Dr. Linda Miles is a leading expert on relationships and mindfulness. She is a psychotherapist, author, media expert and speaker. She has studied and worked in her field of counseling psychology for over 30 years and often speaks about mindfulness, stress reduction, mental health and relationships. Dr. Miles is personable and accessible in her books, articles and talks about how mindfulness and loving kindness can positively change your brain, your chemistry and your life. She can be reached at www.DrLindaMiles.com or followed on Twitter.
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