Yesterday while on a particularly long stretch of highway, Shaun and I were talking about each of our experiences on the first leg of our road trip home.
( Our three kids were also along for the ride. )
“I thought you were mad at me,” I said.
He said, “I was leaving space for you to process.”
It wasn’t until the five of us stopped for food and sat around the hard, plastic table and chairs at the only place around that Shaun and I began to talk.
I was surprised he seemed light.
He perceived that I’d shifted away from an emotional space.
On the open road the next day, Shaun and I realized we’d fallen into a trap we’ve done so much work and had so much practice around avoiding thanks to Brené Brown.
( She’s the author of books like Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. )
He and I were both making assumptions around the other’s state of being and needs.
Through Brené Brown Shaun and I ( and Linnea does it too now ) have learned to start most of our sentences with, “The story I’m telling myself is….”
In this case, Shaun could have said, “The story I’m telling myself is you need space to process. Is that true?”
In this case, I could have asked Shaun, “The story I’m telling myself is you’re mad at me. Is that right?”
As human beings we have massive brains that are so wonderful at protecting us and are masterful at creating stories to keep us small and safe.
Starting with “The story I’m telling myself…” allows us to acknowledge we may be writing a story from a space of fear or protection and that we might be wrong.
Then we give our partners or our co-workers or our friends or family ( or, or, or ) an opportunity to share with us their truths, their perspectives, their needs.
In short, it’s a safe way to communicate and check for understanding and ask for clarification.
Communication is so important in relationships.
( Even though that sounds so cliché. )
And when we do it right, when we come from a space of vulnerability and authenticity, it can lead to deeper levels of understanding and intimacy.
Sending you so much love,