Balance purpose, relationships, and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Beginning Anew (1/3)

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When you wished your partner, sibling, co-worker had shown up differently, don’t complain.

Start with appreciation.

What did they say or do that contributed to your needs? How did they enrich your well-being?

You wonder how this helps getting your complaint across?

Your complaints isn’t the only thing happening.

If you start with your complaint you’re missing the big picture. Some of your needs are met, and some of your needs are unmet. Both are happening at the same time. It is about seeing the positive and the negative in your partner. It is acknowledging that they are more than their actions. Even if those actions triggered pain in you, their failure might not be intentional. It might be the consequence of their own overwhelm, ignorance or deficit of needs. Starting with appreciation, helps convey to your partner that their human needs matter, as much as yours. When you start with appreciation, you acknowledge the needs being met and you empower your partner to support from a place of “We”.

Beginning Anew is about building relationships.

In this safe environment, your partner can hear your complaint as an invitation to connect and understand. It establishes trust that your complaint is not a rejection of them, nor an expression of their wrongdoing. Neither is it about shaming and proving your moral superiority. Nor is it a license to blow up and get your frustration off your chest, without considering the needs of your partner.

Beginning Anew is the start of a learning cycle.

You express what worked for you, before you express what didn’t work for you. You share the idiosyncratic manual of your well-being, without demand-energy or blame. Just facts of life: this apparently works for me, this apparently doesn’t work for me. When you start with appreciation, it is easier for your partner to listen. We learn best when we feel safe and have a sense of unconditional acceptance of our basic human goodness. Our brain relaxes, we let our defenses down and our pre-frontal cortex can receive the information necessary to learn and better serve all needs.

If you want your complaint to be heard, start with appreciation. Sincere appreciation that comes from your heart. Pretty sure your complaint will be heard.


You want help to Begin Anew? Contact me for a free, discovery session, 512-589-0482.

THANKS, DAVID! Thank you for editing this post and adding your idea that beginning anew is about seeing the big picture. I think it helped clarify my point. Love, your weiffie, Elly.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

7 thoughts on “Beginning Anew (1/3)

  1. YEs, love this, I have a couple of adult daughters at home and it is so easy for me to come home and notice that the vacuuming hasn’t been done and not that the kitchen is clean, the pets are fed, the garbage is out and that they have just submitted another couple of job applications… If I just remember to take a moment to appreciate all the needs met (mine and theirs: contribution, harmony, order…) I am so very grateful to have them in my life and we have a wonderful evening together. If I just remember to take that moment…

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    • Thanks, Rowena, I appreciate your response. Meets my needs for connection, understanding, contribution. I am happy I can contribute to your connection to your daughters, family connections are very valuable to me. Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. Use “respectful instead of “safe” in paragraph 2, from this “respectful” environment. Safety is in the mind of the receiver, the speaker can only try to be respectful

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  3. That worked!

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  4. ​Louise Hay (affirmation lady) and now Brene Brown (Ophrah women of the moment)​ are talking “Are people doing the best they can”. Think it is hard concept, but if we can accept, it helps us and helps how we see them.

    I read all your posts. See you in January

    Aralyn Hughes Aralyn’s Home Economics

    *512.698.6800www.aralyn.com *

    *LOVE IN THE SIXTIES film trailer click here * *KID ME NOT, an anthology edited by Aralyn Hughes.* *Available at http://amzn.com/1938749103 * *Foreword written by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love* *www.childfreewomen.com *

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    • Hi Aralyn, thank you for your comment. I liked reading that you read all my posts! I felt honored and a bit shy. Needs met: appreciation, to be heard (=read, haha!), contribution.
      I think we always do the best we can, and we are bound by our own limitations and habit energies. Or maybe lack of support. For me it is easier to contribute in an environment of support, understanding, acceptance, than if I am surrounded by fear or anger energy. That’s one of the reasons why I like to go to my Sangha and facilitate our NVC-groups, to find and create those communities of support.

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