"Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’" ~ Brené Brown, who is our biggest fan!
Hello frustrated, hopeless, overwhelmed Moms and Dads, I have a message of hope. I also have a message of clarity. Last time I talked about how I'd experienced feeling stuck in a pain cycle with my daughter. How awful it was, hopeless. How we would argue with each other, and get nowhere. We'd both feel tense and upset, sure the other was being unreasonable, while homework, getting out the door, and chores still needed to be done! I imagine most of you can relate. The system that's worked for me to get out of the pain cycle and stop the awful dance of old patterns is the 5 Steps to Connect Framework. Now when we disagree and get upset, we no longer direct it AT each other so we don't make things worse. We can own our part, name the feelings and have them guide us to our unmet needs. One step for us was creating a safe place to be real. Give ourselves permission and encouragement to feel hard things. Often my daughter and I would agree to take a break and be on our own as we needed to spend time with and then release the intense yucky uncomfortable feelings (towards the sky or the ground, not AT each other.) I'd need to go grab headphones and dance out my frustration. Or stomp on a mouse pad. Or grab a hand towel and thwack it on the floor in the bathroom. Or call or text a friend to do LifeSaving Listening. My daughter would put on music and journal or write hate letters (that she'd never send/share) or go for a walk. After I'd experienced and released the energy, I'd feel more centered and work through the other 5 Steps. Then I'd check in with her. Sometimes she wasn't ready yet, still angry. I'd leave and come back. When she was ready to be with me again, it often wasn't to talk at first. Our way back to connection was usually through a back rub or a glass of warm milk. Eventually, we'd be able to share what mattered. What was underneath the argument. Having the courage to put down our armor and be open like this re-built trust. My other daughter loved LifeSaving Listening when she was upset as she knew I'd not interrupt nor offer advice, but just hear her. Accept her no matter what. She'd glow after. I would feel amazing! This is the message of clarity. It is agonizing to be stuck in blame or judgement or needing to control and be right as if life depends on it. It is incredibly freeing to stop hiding and resisting what is real. To pretend. After a LifeSaving Listening session I'd feel alive and free. Being human is hard and messy. Uncomfortable feelings are the elephant in the room. We need to feel them to hear their message about what matters. About our unmet needs. AND we need to own them and not offload them AT anyone else which was a common old pattern for us. But experiencing anger and uncertainty and overwhelm are excruciating. So uncomfortable that we have all these old protective patterns we have to unlearn first. For me, it takes someone else being with me to support, listen with warmth, to not be alone. Most of us have spent our lives using protective shields to avoid feeling uncomfortable by repressing, numbing, controlling, rationalizing or offloading our emotions AT others, especially in fault and blame. Because we don't know another way. Brené Brown says that the most important way to practice resilience / wholeheartedness is to share our stories with people who know how to hold space, without judgement. These LifeSaving Listening sessions create that space where it is safe. Where you'll be listened to with compassion and empathy, rather than sympathy, judgement or advice. It's a reliable place to be seen, heard and accepted.