Theme for July, 2014 ~ Going Forth
The presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Chile today versus the 1970s.
We’ll work with the Robert Gonzales process known as Preparation for Authentic Dialogue — in which one strives to hold both sets of needs with care — drawing upon John Gottman’s The Four Horsemen research as our inspiration for the reason we might work on converting our (jackal) criticism into (mere/more giraffe-like) complaints.
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”
~ Audre Lorde
(courtesy of the work of Robert Gonzales*)
Connect to the Energy of the Beauty of the Need :
- Identify the observation/stimulus that you want to communicate about.
- Follow the stimulus to identifying the need, to resting in the beauty of the need.
a. Self-empathize with any thinking, judgments, feelings or other needs as they arise in relation to entering into the beauty of the need.
b. Enter into the living energy of this need, feel it alive within you.
- Say aloud, the beauty of the need expressing your sense and value of it in terms of your emotions and the felt sense of your body.
- Sense and guess what need might have been alive in the other person. Recognize they were trying to meet a need in what you observed. Feel the beauty in their need.
- Say aloud the beauty of the need you are guessing alive in them and what it feels like in your emotions and the felt sense of your body.
Set a Clear Intention to Connect:
- Intend to connect with each others authenticity without any other outcome in mind (for change or to fix anything). You might say, “I want to reveal (share/express) the fullness of my feelings and needs so the other person receives it in their heart and I want to hear, feel and receive theirs in my heart so we can mutually enjoy each others feelings and needs.
- Say aloud you intention to connect and what this intention feels like in your body and emotions.
Via Robert Gonzales: firstname.lastname@example.org
Edited by Hawkeye Lannis
“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” ~ Audre Lorde
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ~ Audre Lorde
A bit of inspiration as to why to do the prep work for having an ‘authentic dialogue’ resides in the empirical research of John Gottman who has demonstrated that while relationships dissolve for a myriad of reasons, each scenario is unique to those involved, each ending follows a recognizable pattern of warning signs. Beginning with the template of ‘criticism’ Gottman shows how, while all relationships spawn complaints, when these specific, conduct-oriented gripes morph into more global character-assasinations, or criticisms, the slippery slope of the four horsemen will invariably follow. As people shift from making observation-like statements, noting specific incidents, and instead make evaluations assessing another’s ethical nature, things will rapidly descend into contempt, then defensiveness, and finally end in stonewalling. Gottman’s research dovetails interestingly with Marshall Rosenberg’s emphasis on employing observations (instead of evaluations/interpretations), referencing feelings & needs, and making respond-able Connection-Requests. In a sense, the four horsemen can animate a sense of purpose for ‘turning towards’ (instead of turning away/against — see also: March 23, 2014 ~ On Turning Points (& Turning Towards …) and striving for a more balanced relational approach, as outlined in Robert’s ‘preparation-for-authentic-dialogue’ (above).
See also: Anderson After Fight Lab: ‘Fascinating’
Long love is built on understanding the nuances of human nature, including human frailty.
This week on The Gottman Relationship Blog, we will continue The Four Horsemen series by digging deeper into the first horseman of the apocalypse: criticism. Before we do so, however, we’d like to remind you of its definition and antidote.
As we wrote in our blog last Wednesday, criticizing your partner is different than offering a critique or voicing a complaint! The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an ad hominem attack – it is an attack on your partner at the core. In effect, you are dismantling his or her whole being when you criticize. It makes the victim feel assaulted, rejected, and hurt, and often causes the perpetrator and victim to fall into an escalating pattern where the first horseman reappears with greater and greater frequency and intensity.
Here is an example to help you distinguish between the two:
Criticism: “You never think about how your behavior is affecting other people. I don’t believe you are that forgetful, you’re just selfish! You never think of others! You never think of me!”
Complaint: “I was scared when you were running late and didn’t call me. I thought we had agreed that we would do that for each other.”
As we explained on Friday, the antidote to criticism is to complain without blame. Talk about your feelings using “I” statements and express a positive need. What do you feel? What do you need from your partner in this situation?
Criticism: “You never pay any attention to me! All you care about is watching that stupid TV show!”
Antidote: “I’m feeling isolated and lonely tonight. Can we please talk about my day?”
In order to connect with your partner in a healthy way, there must be real communication. Remember: in many situations, making your intentions clear can allow both of you to avoid needlessly hurting each other’s feelings. It’s imperative that you express your feelings honestly, even when it’s hard – even when it makes you feel vulnerable. Instead of vilifying each other, the two of you can become a team, able to soothe one another and give each other comfort. When you are a team, and you don’t attack each other, you learn to build and maintain loving support and trust.
Fighting off your urge to criticize can hold defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling at bay. Not only can the elimination of critical ad-hominem attacks prevent defensive, critical, and stonewalling responses from your partner, but it can also prevent flooding for both of you – the overwhelming of all cognitive systems in extreme physiological arousal. Remember from our discussion of flooding: When physiological arousal accompanies relationship conflict, it may lead to: (a) a decrease in one’s ability to take in information (reduced hearing, reduced peripheral vision, problems with shifting attention away from a defensive posture), (b) an increase in defensiveness, (c) a reduction in the ability for creative problem solving, and (d) a reduction in the ability to listen and empathize…
(continues – The Four Horsemen: Criticism)
- The Four Horsemen: Criticism
- The Four Horsemen: The Antidotes
- The Four Horsemen: Recognizing Criticism, Contempt…
- The Four Horsemen: Introduction
By David Brooks
Most of us are trying to get better at something. And when we think about our future progress, we tend to imagine we will improve linearly. We’ll work hard at mastering some skill; we’ll steadily get better and better.
But, as the Canadian writer Scott H. Young points out in a recent blog post, progress in most domains is not linear. In some spheres, like learning a language or taking up running, improvement is logarithmic. You make a lot of progress when you first begin the activity, but, as you get better, it gets harder and harder to improve.
Logarithmic activities require a certain sort of mind-set, Young writes. During the early high-growth phase, when everything is coming easily, you have to make sure you maintain your disciplined habits, or else you will fall backward. Then later, during the slow-growth phase, you have to break some of your habits. To move from good to great, you have to break out of certain routines that have become calcified and are now holding you back…
|By Dori Midnight|
“You can make a fresh start with your final breath.”
– Bertolt Brecht
One man’s risk is another’s sure bet. I may have the reputation for being a risk taker, but when I look back, I wasn’t always conscious of taking them. At least, not at that time. I might have appeared that way to outsiders. But to me, at the crossroads, there weren’t really two divergent paths for me to consider, two stark but equally compelling choices. There was a dead end and the edge of a cliff. So if it’s die or jump, is it risk or destiny. It doesn’t matter. Maybe risk is destiny.
I suppose the first big risk I ever took was to leave my “profession,” which was teaching. I was twenty-four, had a wife, a baby, a dog, a little car. My foot was on the first rung of the ladder, but I wasn’t going up; I had one boot in the grave. I knew that for sure the minute the head teacher warned me in horror that if I left, I’d lose my pension.
Pension? Didn’t know I had one. All I did know was that I didn’t want a life with a pension plan waiting at the end of it. I know that attitude was arrogant. I was born into a working-class family and for us, pensions were the reward for hard, honest toil. But it wasn’t going to be my reward. Arrogance is a highly underappreciated character trait. In fact, arrogance fuels risk.
My former wife was an actress pursuing a career in London and I knew if I was going to make it as a musician, I had to be in London, too. So we packed up all our belongings, which besides the baby and the dog was a rocking chair, and set off in our battered Citroën toward the living-room floor of a friend. I really had no prospects. What was I thinking? Well, I wasn’t. There seems to be very little cognitive process associated with risks. But I was also strangely joyous – like you’re about to dive into some very cold water and the minute before you hit the water you think, “There’s no turning back now. I’ve done this.” And there’s a great freedom in knowing that there aren’t any safety nets.
Whenever you change the direction in your life, it’s going to scare the people around you. That’s a given. But if it doesn’t scare the daylights out of you, it’s not real risk. Very often, fear comes only when you’re well into it. Those early days were both debilitating and frightening for me because the only way I could support my family was to go on dole. Turn up on Wednesday afternoon, sign your name, and say you’re available for work. I never felt that I should be there, doing that, but I was grateful for it each week because during the day I could practice my music. That’s when I met Stuart Copeland, who would later be the drummer of the Police, and he had this idea of forming a band. He said that he liked my playing and singing and wondered if I wanted to take a risk tagging along to see how it might go. Was there a choice? It didn’t seem like it at the time, it just seemed like the answer to my prayers. So again the paradox: If you had no choice, how can you call it a risk?
I’ve never believed there’s anything to be gained from an educated risk, where you weigh all the consequences and then take your chances and hope you choose the best possible outcome. Usually we take on well-thought-out wagers for practical reasons, like for money. But more often than not they backfire. Even the most brilliant strategy, the most reasonable plan can morph overnight into a leech, sucking the integrity out of you, until you’re barely able to say “Never again.” That is, until the next reasonably profitable, well-thought-out devil’s IOU presents itself.
Sometimes people mix up thrill seeking and risk taking, but I think they’re totally different experiences, with different motivations and outcomes. Thrill seeking is flirting with danger, taunting the fates. Thrill seeking seems to be a particularly male endeavor; it’s probably encoded in our DNA. It’s speeding motorcycles, parachute jumping, mountain climbing, drug taking, and adultery when you’ve got a great wife and a beautiful family. My perverse enjoyment of rough plane rides brings out the thrill seeker in me. I was once in a near-crash in a small plane flying over Venezuela. When I walked away from it, surviving was one of the best feelings I’d have for a long time. Surviving. What a rush. Women understand this wild streak in their sons, but barely tolerate it in their men. Perhaps external thrills are the most seductive when our daily lives disappoint us. I sometimes think that we men seek thrills because we don’t always have the courage to take real risks, whether they’re emotional risks necessary in successful personal relationships, or practical ones, as in changing jobs.
True risks, that sudden leap into the cold water, can carry you into a state of grace. Coincidences, synchronicity, chance, karmic charm, it doesn’t matter what you call it, there’s a positive force that intervenes that covers your back. Things click. It makes sense because true risk is the only thing that forces spiritual and emotional growth so immediately, so dramatically.
In my life there’s always been a connection between risk and luck. A lot of people approach risk as if it’s the enemy, when it’s really fortune’s accomplice. A risk may seem ridiculous to other people, but risk isn’t random or rash when it’s a necessity. The night I decided to walk away from the Police, I’d felt I’d reach the summit. We were being hailed as the hottest band of the decade. In barely five years we’d gone from playing for a handful of people in bars to 67,000 fans in Shea Stadium. We’d sold forty million records. I had more money than I knew what to do with. But I was miserable. I was out of control and so was my life. Everything was falling apart – my first marriage was breaking up, my relationships with the other guys in the band were horrendous, yet I had the world envying me. As I walked off the stage, I knew I had to make the change. Everybody thought I was certifiable. But I was joyous, relieved. Risk has given me back my soul.
As one grows older, one has more to lose and the risks loom larger. I’m halfway through my life. How do I become the old man that I could admire now, a wiser elder? How do I grow old gracefully, especially in my profession, which glorifies youth so aggressively? How do I become useful to the people around me and my society as an older person? I think it’s crucial to take a fresh start, take a blank canvas, do things that defy logic, whether it’s introducing an audience who’s used to listening to music in a four-four time to a more complex meter, or making a movie that’s unconventional, or popularizing somewhat unfamiliar topics such as rainforest issues or meditation or whatever. What’s disconcerting or unexpected often pleases me, especially if it takes my audience and me in a new direction. In the end, I know I won’t find it personally rewarding just to toe the line, stick to the formula. I’ve got to progress more as a person than as a personality.
What’s my biggest risk now? How about being happy? I used to subscribe to the theory that in order to write anything worthwhile, you needed to be in some sort of turmoil. And I wasn’t alone in that belief. I would manufacture all sorts of problems in order to be able to create. But in the last few years, I’ve made a conscious decision to create from a profound depth of happiness, and no one is more amazed than I am that some of the best work of the deposed “King of Pain” was inspired by joy.
It has always impressed me that the Chinese pictogram for crisis is the identical one for opportunity. I’m convinced that taking risk redeems, restores, and reinvents. So the next time you’re overwhelmed by curiosity, or the prospects of change makes your stomach heave and the ground beneath your feet rumble, my advice is, don’t look back. Risk is sitting on your shoulder, my friend. Nothing in your life is beyond redemption. Dive into the cold water. All bets are off.
Bill McKibben: ‘Do the Math’ at Rutgers
On getting up again: Rodney Mullen