Ep 3: Foundation Part 2: Fighting To Be Right About Stuff You Don’t Want To Be Right About
This is Part 2 to the last podcast where I talked about our tendency to talk about our problems – or as we call it, Complaining For Change – when we want improvement in our relationships.
The positive intent behind talking about problems is the desire to get back to being in love, back to being connected, back to being in harmony, back to feeling good about ourselves, empowered and in love as a couple.
When I have a complaint, for example, that you don’t listen to me. It’s as if I’m trying to convince you that I am right about how you don’t listen. So I present all of this evidence to reinforce my position so that you will take me seriously and really get that I’m right about my perspective.
Once you see that I’m right – so the fantasy goes – you’ll make changes accordingly. Right?
It’s a bit like I’m going to court to present my case so I can get the jury to agree with me that, yes, it’s true, he really doesn’t listen to me.
Unfortunately, if I am right about how you don’t listen, I am left with a partner who doesn’t listen. If I am right about how you don’t listen, what I “win” is that I have a partner who doesn’t listen. Which is definitely NOT what I want.
I am in effect fighting to be right something I don’t want to be right about. I am going to court to fight a battle I don’t even want to win.
Here are a few stories to illustrate.
A man came to work with us. He was 49 years old, and he had been single most of his life. He’d never fallen in love, he said. All he really wanted was to have a relationship and create a family. He really wanted to have children and he wanted it more than anything. But he believed, indeed, he was fighting to be right about how it was too late for him, and he was too old, and it was never going to happen.
He didn’t believe that he was worthy of creating that kind of relationship. He didn’t think he had the experience. He didn’t think he had the opportunity.
One of the first things we did when we worked with him was to ask if he were willing to be wrong about these negative self-assessments. Because in order for him to create what he wanted, he had to be willing to be wrong.
So he took it on. He took on being willing to be wrong. He showed our live trainings, he got to practice being in relationship in our interactive workshops.
About 10 months after starting with LoveWorks, he met Jessica and they fell in love. They got together. They got pregnant, and now have a precious three-year-old girl and are carving out a sweet life together. It all started with his willingness to be wrong about all of those old ideas and notions that he had been carrying around for almost 50 years.
Here’s anotherl story to illustrate how we inadvertently and unconsciously end up going for what we don’t want when we’re fighting to be right about an old story versus going for what we do want, which requires us being wrong.
Jenna and Tom were very estranged. They hadn’t been sexual for a long time. They were sleeping in separate rooms. He was upstairs in their bedroom. She was downstairs on the couch and he was pissed off that they hadn’t been intimate and sexual and she was really angry at their lack of intimacy and connection.
In the process of working with me, she began to uncover her real desire for connection with her husband that she really wanted to be wrong about certain aspects of him, that she really wanted to create a different connection, a different kind of relationship with him.
After one of our sessions she decided that that evening she was going to go up to her husband and initiate an intimate sexual interaction. So she did. She went upstairs, crawled into bed with her husband, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “See! You never do this! We never have intimacy. We never have sex because you are never this way!”
He then launched into complaining about their problems and everything that was missing. In that moment, Tom – like so many frustrated partners, missed the opportunity to have the intimacy and the sexual connection that he was longing for because he was fighting to be right about her unavailability.
He couldn’t see her availability when it was right in front of him. And that is exactly what happens for a lot of us, we miss out on the opportunities to actually have the experiences of love and connection and joy that we long for because our minds are searching for evidence to reinforce us being right about very old dysfunctional stories that keep us unhappy and stuck and unsatisfied.
Begin to pay attention to and notice in yourself, what you are fighting to be right about that you haven’t even noticed you’ve been fighting to be right about up until now.
Typically it’s the stuff you say. It’s the stuff you say to your girlfriends. It’s the stuff you think in your head when you’re really mad. It’s the stuff you say when you’re in a fight. Those sentences, those thoughts, those beliefs are often the very things we are fighting to be right about.
A powerful tool is to slow it down and find out what you’re fighting to be right about. I’m never going to get what I want, right? Thoughts like, I’m never going to get what I want. You don’t listen. You don’t care. I’m not worth it. I’m the only one who cleans up around here. On and on.
Try writing them down so you can see it in print. Your identity is wrapped up around these thoughts. You’ll be able to see how you’ve been gathering evidence for these crappy stories your entire life.
Once you can see this, then play with being willing to be wrong.
I ask myself, “Am I willing to be wrong about that?” There’s all kind of things I’d like to be wrong about. I want to be wrong about how I’m not going to make enough money. I want to be wrong about how my kid’s not going to turn out. I want to be wrong about us not being able to have a really great sex life. I want to be wrong about me not being able to find a great partner. I want to be wrong about me not being able to create the best living situation possible.
This is what’s going to help you create a successful relationship, so try it out.
Till next time, have fun being wrong!
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