STOP TRYING TO FIX YOUR PARTNER’S FEELINGS, CONNECT WITH THEM INSTEAD
One of our deepest needs as humans is to feel understood, and true understanding is not possible without empathy. As psychologist Carl Rogers put it, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!”
Think back to a time when you were listened to and really felt heard. How did it feel to be seen as you were?
The last letter in Dr. Gottman’s ATTUNE model is E and it stands for Empathy. Brené Brown describes empathy beautifully in this brief animated video.
Empathy is the willingness to feel with your partner. To understand their inner world.
Everyone experiences an unhappy mood on occasion, but there is a big difference between experiencing a temporary bout of unhappiness and living a habitually unhappy life. That’s what chronically unhappy people do. And although many of these people are afraid to admit it, a vast majority of their unhappiness stems from their own beliefs and behaviors.
Over the past decade, Marc and I have helped hundreds of unhappy people rediscover their smiles and, in the process, we’ve learned a lot about the negative beliefs and behaviors that typically hold them back. Even if you are generally a happy person, take a look at the short list below. Many of the unhappy people we’ve worked with via our course and coaching initially refused to admit that they carried these beliefs and behaviors, even when the evidence stacked against them was undeniable. See if any of these points are keeping you from experiencing greater amounts of joy.
1. They struggle with self-respect. – Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself. Be a friend to yoruself. Trust your inner spirit and follow your instincts. Accept who you are completely, the good and the bad, and make changes in your life as YOU see fit—not because you think anyone else wants you to be different, but because you know it’s the right thing to do, for YOU. Be the person you will be happy to live with for the duration of your life. Don’t rely on your significant other, or anyone else, for your happiness and self-worth. Know that our first and last love is always self-love, and that if you can’t love and respect yourself, no one else will be able to either. (covered in the “Self-Love” chapter of our NEW book)
WIN RELATIONSHIP CONFLICT BY LETTING YOUR PARTNER WIN TOO
Good relationships are built on the belief of what’s good for you is good for me too. Partners realize that the best bet is to work together, rather than against each other.
Meet Jordan and Taylor, a couple in their mid-forties.
They’ve been having issues with housework. Jordan is exhausted from nagging Taylor about leaving dirty clothes on the floor and not vacuuming the house. Jordan feels Taylor doesn’t listen, and feels that Taylor’s unwillingness demonstrates a lack of caring. Taylor, on the other hand, feels that Jordan is demanding and unloving. If Jordan truly cared, Taylor would get some slack on when the housework gets done.
Paying attention is half the battle but you both need to do it.
I knew that my marriage was floundering but I didn’t know how to fix it. Fifteen years in, enough of what we’d once had was so eroded that there wasn’t any real way of retrieving it. I think both of us were just sick and tired of the arguing, the relationship, and each other.
Some years ago, a wise therapist named Susan whose practice was mainly devoted to couples’ counseling confided a sad truth as we talked about whether joint therapy with my then-husband would work. She shook her head and then continued: “The reality is that it’s relatively rare that the counseling works because people wait too long. Therapy is usually seen as a last-ditch effort to salvage the marriage, and it’s not always agreed to in good faith either. A husband or wife may simply accede because he or she wants to be seen as ‘having tried everything.’ By the time they book an appointment with me, the marriage has been failing for years. And it’s just too late. For those couples, my office is just a stop and a parking lot away from the divorce lawyer’s.”
THE CLEANLINESS OF YOUR HOME IS IMPACTING YOUR HAPPINESS
Apparently, there are real health incentives to vacuuming.
Your mother was right. You really do need to clean your room—and not just to get rid of clutter and find your long lost gray sweater. A new survey run on behalf of Clorox found that not only is your emotional and mental state linked to how clean your home is, but you can actually be more productive and less stressed in a clean home.
The report, conducted by Ketchum Global Research & Analytics and commissioned by Clorox, surveyed 2,008 adults across the United States. It started based off some pretty grim-sounding third party research: According to a Gallup poll, 79 percent of Americans frequently suffer from stress. Another 72 percent report feeling lonely (per a Harris poll), while happiness levels seem to generally be declining. Another Harris poll found the US to have dropped to number 19 from number 3 on the World Happiness Index in a span of just nine years.
While these findings are fairly depressing, there’s an easy solution: cleaning. That’s right.
ARE YOU MEETING YOUR CHILD’S OR TEEN’S MOST CRUCIAL NEED?
Love alone is not enough for raising an emotionally healthy child.
As a psychologist for the past 23 years I’ve worked with well over two thousand children, teens, and their parents. Parents usually contact me to help their child with defiant behavior, anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, school struggles, substance abuseconcerns, amongst other struggles.
In all my years practicing, I’ve had very few children tell me that their parents do not lovethem. This is a very good thing, Most parents pride themselves, with good reason, that their children know that they feel deeply loved by them.
I value the concept of love and the treasure all that comes from giving and receiving love. I certainly love my own children very much. But when it comes to the complexities of parenting, love is not enough!
It’s a dull, subdued sensation when your heart is breaking, like the muffled sound of a distant gunshot. It doesn’t physically pierce your skin or tear you to pieces, but the sensation is physically present – the paralyzing discomfort of realizing that something you took for granted is leaving for good.
Although it’s hard to accept at first, this is actually a good sign, having a broken heart. It means you have loved something, you have tried for something, and you have let life teach you.
Life will attempt to break you down sometimes; nothing and no one can completely protect you from this reality. Remaining alone and hiding from the world won’t either, for endless, stagnant solitude will also break you with unhealthy nostalgia and yearning.
When we were young life was easier, right? I know sometimes it seems that way. But the truth is life still is easy. It always will be. The only difference is we’re older, and the older we get, the more we complicate things for ourselves.
You see, when we were young we saw the world through simple, hopeful eyes. We knew what we wanted and we had no biases or concealed agendas. We liked people who smiled. We avoided people who frowned. We ate when we were hungry, drank when we were thirsty, and slept when we were tired.
As we grew older our minds became gradually disillusioned by negative external influences. At some point we began to hesitate and question our instincts. When a new obstacle or growing pain arose, we stumbled and fell down. This happened several times. Eventually we decided we didn’t want to fall again, but rather than solving the problem that caused us to fall, we avoided it altogether.