SUMMER SHORTS: Do This In A Relationship. It Makes A Difference.
Summer Shorts is a weekly short-read in honor of the season, to convey ideas about relationships and life in the blink of an eye.
There are days when things with your partner seem a little rough around the edges. There are moments or hours when you wonder why you’re in the relationship to begin with. You might even fantasize about the benefits of walking away. You entertain the idea briefly, then continue as usual.
Even today, before leaving for work, the quick conversation with your partner as you picked up your keys, water bottle and bag did not go well. There was an uncomfortable disagreement, and no time to work it out.
Now, as you drive, you wonder how to settle your heart, how to make your mind sit and stay. At the traffic light, you take a deep breath and remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. But until it does, what is there to do?
Pulling into the parking lot, before heading inside to your busy day, you take a few moments to center. You let in your partner’s words. You sit with them. You pay attention to your thoughts. You notice your fear. You breathe.
How to receive another person is something each of us learns more deeply every day on planet Earth. What does receiving mean? Fundamentally, it means accepting. Receiving is a deep welcome for what’s in front of you.
Being a receiver in a relationship means “Go ahead and bring all of you to our relationship because I’ve been practicing with myself, and I’ve made it my priority to accept who I am. Come on in, the water’s fine. I’ve made room in my heart for every aspect of you, because that’s what I’ve been practicing with myself.”
Continuing, “If I slip up and forget to receive you, I’m so practiced (with myself) that I’ll notice I didn’t receive you. I’ll pause. I’ll take a deep breath and remember to hear you, fully and completely. I’ll consider your point of view, understand it, honor it. I’ll do the best I can, which is pretty good, because, like I said — I’ve been practicing.”
What does receiving my husband mean? It would mean I’m not trying to change him. It would mean I accept what he does in the world, how he thinks, what he believes. It would mean I’ve paid attention to what motivates or inspires him, what makes him tick, what makes him happy, what supports him, what matters to him. I welcome all of him, as he is. Again, I can do that because I’ve been practicing with myself.
With practice receiving, gradually I learn to breathe through places where I have (in the past) shut down a conversation or turned it on its ear.
What’s the opposite of receiving?
Research shows that we can sense a thought or reaction before it becomes words-to-another. We can say to ourselves, “Oh, here it comes. I can feel it. Here’s a trigger point.” We state this awareness declaration clearly to ourselves so we don’t fall for, believe in, or become the trigger. Instead, we notice we’re about to react and make a decision to move consciously forward.
One word of advice here — have a deal with your partner not to point out each other’s triggers. Instead, point out (only) your own. When you notice a trigger of yours, a place where you didn’t receive, throw a flag on your own play. Call it out. Own it. Work through it with your partner’s help, if possible. (Partners can help more than you might imagine. But that’s a longer discussion for another time.)
With practice receiving, people realize a reaction is not the ultimate truth, it’s just where they were in that moment.
A reaction is the past expressed in the present moment. If we’d prefer that life be an expression of where we’re going, not a repeat of where we’ve been, being aware of a reaction on the horizon is an important step.
Committing to the practice of being in the present, not in the familiar past or the predictable future, changes everything. It’s a clear turning point in any relationship, especially the one with yourself.
Egos react. Hearts break open and receive. Receiving is following the lead of the heart. Given the wisdom of the heart, the heart-path is one you can trust. Where will you ask yourself to open your heart this week?
Terri’s book of photography combined with poetry is here! 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart.
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