Working Too Hard: Content vs. Connection (part 2 of 3)
Last week we talked about managing connection before managing content in making big decisions. (http://www.wiseheartpdx.org/post/725) This week let's look at prioritizing connection through the habits of daily interaction.
The little ways you find yourself prioritizing content over connection can be more difficult to work with because they have the momentum of habit energy. Here are some little ways that couples wear away at their connection by prioritizing content:
§ Opinion ping pong: Don expresses something about using sugar in a dessert. His partner responds in a harsh tone about how sugar is bad for you and why doesn't he use a sugar substitute. They have three more stressful exchanges about the relative merits of sugar.
§ Criticizing & Fixing: Carla expresses difficulty about a parenting decision with her ex-partner. Her current partner takes the opportunity to criticize her decisions and tell her what she should be doing.
§ Micro-managing: Throughout their day together, Lucia gives her partner little corrections with a managerial tone – "No, don't sit there, sit here." "This is your turn, get in your right lane." "Did you bring your papers, go get them." "No, park over there."
§ Intellectualizing: Ian expresses an idea he is excited about and his partner responds with all the practical reasons it won't work, or asks a series questions about how it all fits together.
In all of the interactions above, the couples have lost track of what they care about most and are disconnected from the needs that are driving their behavior in the moment. Shifting your consciousness to prioritize connection in daily life rests on self-care, mindfulness, and intention.
When you make the big decisions to structure your life so that your needs are met consistently, your natural compassion and lovingness flows and informs your behavior. Rather than beating yourself up for not eating in a healthy way or not exercising enough, etc., set up your life so that it is easy to attend to the basics of self-care.
You cannot transform habit energy through your will alone. You can hope that you will change harmful habits, but without building the "muscle" of mindfulness it is very difficult. Find a mindful activity that you enjoy and practice it everyday.
Examples of mindfulness practices include: sitting breath meditation, walking with attention to your feet touching the ground, journaling, feeling texture with your hands as you do a simple cleaning task, feeling the vibration of your car at every stoplight, etc.
What do you want to create with your life energy? What needs do you want to meet in a given situation?
While answering these questions verbally is an important part of intention, it's only half of the way there.
Intention is also an attitude and a tone/emotion in your body and energy. I saw a startling example of this once with a friend in a training we were taking. We were on lunch break and talking about the trainer who we love dearly. My friend was expressing her desire for him be more vulnerable with us so that we might contribute to him in a deeper way. As she said this her emotional tone was one of anger and frustration, not matching her words of caring. When we returned for the remainder of the afternoon, with no prompting from us, our trainer did express some vulnerability about his work being lonely at times and wishing he had more friends. My friend snapped back sharply with, "You have to earn our friendship!" Her emotional state over rode her verbal intention.
In stating your intention for an activity or day with your partner, take time to feel into the tone and emotion of that intention as well as stating it verbally to yourself or out loud.
This week name one disconnecting habitual interaction you have with your partner. Using the guidelines for intention written above, complete this sentence:
The next time my partner and I have a _______________________________ kind of interaction, I hold the intention to ______________________________.