Part 4 of this series deals with how negativity shows up in the Space Between. For the last few weeks, I have talked about the Space Between and the importance of keeping any negativity out of it. I went on to say that the challenge is to make the unconscious conscious. Then, talk with your partner in a safe way, to rectify the situation. Here is a great example of how negativity can show up unconsciously in a relationship. This interaction actually took place in my office a few months ago but it is a good example of how negativity will show up in the Space Between. We dealt with it in the office; the key is to have the tools you need to deal with it constructively at home.
Negativity Shows Up in The Space Between: A Client Story
A woman brought up an issue with her partner. It was not about him, just an issue, but with a good deal of energy around it. He mirrored her back perfectly. But, when it came to his turn to talk because he knows how competent she is, he said something like: “That’s nothing, you can handle it, no problem!” Immediately, I saw her whole body language shift, so I asked her: “What just happened?” She said: “I felt dismissed”.
Now, because I know that the past often affects the present, I asked her: “Did you ever feel dismissed as a kid?” “All the time!” She was 3rd or 4th in a large family and from her subjective perception, she didn’t feel that what she had to say, as a kid, was really listened to or that she was heard. In other words, she felt dismissed. In the past when this happened in the relationship, which it had on different occasions, she would shut down; he would wonder what had just happened and then they wouldn’t talk for 2 or 3 days.
Flagging it at Home
Now, as I said, this happened in the office, but this is the kind of interaction that can happen in the Space Between at home. If it stays unconscious, which it had for 15 years for them, it proved problematic. I flagged it in the office, but at home, that would be an instance where she would have to use a code word or action to let her partner know that what he just said hadn’t worked. Then they would have to talk about it, as we did in the office, using the Safe Conversation process.
It was not his intention at all, to dismiss her. He thought he was being supportive. But it came across as negative to her, BECAUSE OF HER CHILDHOOD. (The past can affect the present). Once he understood that, he could validate what was going on for her. And she, on her part, could validate that it was not his intention to dismiss her. Then, using the Safe Conversation process, they put their heads together and came up with some helpful ideas so that the same thing wouldn’t occur in the future.
For me, it is a great example of how negativity shows up in the Space Between unconsciously. At home, she would have to flag his comments using a code word they had already agreed on beforehand, and then, the two of them, use the Safe Conversation process to figure out how to avoid that particular pitfall in the future.
A quick review
- In a conscious relationship, commit to no negativity in the Space Between.
- Because it is often unconscious, couples need to decide on a code word or action that flags something as negative, without getting either partner’s back up even more.
- Use the Safe Conversation process to settle the issue in a way that works for both partners.
Next week is Valentine’s Day and I’ll share 5 books that could prove helpful in understanding yourself and your intimate relationship better. Check my wife’s website Journey to Inner Wisdom for the links to her podcast and YouTube video of us discussing the five books.