“Why am I always so alone in my struggle to have my own way?” Ashleigh Brilliant
What makes successful relationships so challenging is that they require us to evolve beyond excessive selfishness. Our relationships transition us from a 1-person psychological system to a more complex 2-person psychological system. A 2-person psychological system involves two sets of emotions being expressed, considers how two sets of needs be met, and tasks two sets of minds to collaborate and work together gracefully. When successful, this results in win/win outcomes and creates relationships that are secure functioning. Secure functioning relationships possess qualities of attunement, mutuality, kindness, and sustainability.
ACTION STEPS TO FOSTER WIN/WIN OUTCOMES WHEN CONFLICT ARISES:
-Ask yourself the following questions: “What am I feeling and needing right now?” “What is my partner likely feeling and needing right now?”
-Ask yourself: “Can I engage right now, or am I too stressed and need to take a break first?” If you need time, and your partner wants to engage, explicitly ask for time and tell them about how long you need.
-Remind yourself that only one partner can get their needs met at a time.
-Ask yourself: “Who seems more stressed and needs to go first?” Usually the one who ‘calls foul’ gets to go first.
-Empathy is how we relieve our partner. This means active listening, eye contact, moving towards, and minimizing dismissive words, sounds, and facial expressions. Helpful self-talk to minimize judgement and defensiveness includes: “They are doing it just right.” “I don’t need to fully understand their position. I just need to show I care about them and am trying to fix it.”
-The faster and more effectively one parter is relieved, the quicker they then move to relieve the other. Win/win.
HOW CREATING SECURE FUNCTIONING RELATIONSHIPS WILL SAVE THE WORLD:
Learning to get along and love our fellow humans (and all sentient beings) is perhaps the most challenging task on the planet. Some would say this is the perennial task.
Our romantic relationship is the template, the prototype, the nesting egg for all other systems of the world. Partners create families, create communities, create cities, create countries, create global communities. When secure functioning is created in our personal world, it seeds elements of peace, collaboration, generosity, and care which extend out to the global community.
And now we can see how humanity’s developmental task is to create a win/win relationship with the planet itself. We are a lonely species who forgot how to collaborate with our environment. We are seeing the effects of a win/lose stance with nature. The same action steps laid out above apply to resolving conflict with the planet. Can we listen to what She is feeling and needing? Can we respond with care and lack of dismissiveness? Can we learn to temper excess selfishness and defensiveness? Can we create systems that are mutually supportive?