By Corinne Farago
We can all agree, we’re on a wild ride, worldwide!
With the combination of less distractions and long-term confinement, storms of emotions may be part of that wild ride.
I’d like to offer you a 3 step approach that might help you and your partner through the emotional storms.
The next time your partner is letting loose and expressing their fear of uncertainty, frustration with family dynamics, work related anxiety, existential angst, grief of loss, overwhelm with a new normal, or any other challenging emotion, say these words to yourself…
“I don’t have to try to fix this right now”
Then take a breath and plant your feet in place like a massive tree in the forest.
Tell yourself you’re going to hold the space for your partner’s emotional storm to pass through without reacting, defending, accusing or all the other egoic traps we fall into for fear of feeling ‘wrong’.
Your job, or rather your ‘opportunity’ is to meet the moment with emotional generosity.
I’ve coached men in doing this for their women, but I believe it works both ways.
No one is immune to overwhelm, and we can take turns showing up for each other in ways that make space for emotions that need to be expressed.
If you’re a fixer (and most of us are), and your partner starts to unleash their emotions, you probably feel immediate stress in your body. Your mind starts to race toward possible solutions before they’ve even finished speaking.
You’re no longer really listening while your brain scans for something to say, suggest or act on.
You want to fix their problem, both because you love them, and because you want the storm to stop.
But here’s the thing…
While you’re racking your brain with strategies and solutions to calm them down, you’re by-passing what they need the most right then and there.
Step One: After you tell yourself, you don’t have to fix their problem, Stop what you’re doing in the moment and turn toward them with your whole body, not just your head.
Listen to the words coming out of their mouth. Make eye contact and show them they have your loving attention.
This is where you become the tree that withstands the storm. You ground yourself deep into the earth and bring that strong presence to your partner.
In that moment they need nothing more than to speak those words to someone who’s letting them do just that. They need to express themselves, to move that energy out of their body, to feel what they’re feeling and be witnessed in it.
Step Two: Show empathy for what they’re feeling. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with their perspective if it’s not yours. You’re empathizing with their feelings, not the content of their story.
Showing empathy is simply acknowledging that your partner is feeling something difficult for them.
When we empathize with another, we’re attuning to their experience and feeling with them. We’re looking inside to connect to something inside of us that knows that feeling (without making what’s happening about you or your experiences).
Teresa Wiseman, a Nurse Scholar who studies empathy explained it like this.
“Empathy is perspective taking. It’s the ability to take the perspective of another person. It’s recognizing feelings in other people and then communicating that recognition back to them.”
Empathy is an active and intentional response to another person’s feelings.
These are skills to bring to any relationship should emotional storms arise.
Imagine what it’s like to be them in that moment. Put yourself in their place, and now respond from there. You might say something like…
“I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. That must be difficult for you. Tell me more about that.” …and mean it!
Listen until they feel like they’ve said everything. If you feel more questions will help, use questions to guide them away from details and toward their feelings.
“How are you feeling right now?” These are the questions that will help them release their negative emotions.
If you’re truly listening with an interest in how they’re feeling, they’ll feel heard.
And in the end, no matter what the problem is, we all want to feel like someone hears us and cares.
You’ll know when your partner feels heard. Their body will tell you!
They’ll start to slow down, their nervous system will calm, and they’ll begin to breath more deeply. Once they feel heard, they’ll start to drop down into the deeper, more vulnerable feelings that underlie the overwhelm.
This is what you want to support.
Show them that they can lean on you (literally).
Step 3: Offer some physical comfort at this point. Let them feel that you’ve got them.
Touch their arm. Hold them. Cradle them. Massage their feet or shoulders.
Touch calms and nurtures us.
Sometimes touch is all we need to start to let go and relax.
Once you’ve helped them back to a calmer, more centered place, maybe it’s time to help them consider solutions to their problem (if they’re solvable).
But unless you master the skills of helping your partner feel heard in their emotional storms first, looking to fix something is not going to give them what they really need in the moment, to be heard, felt and accepted in their feelings.
This is emotional generosity.
When we stop what we’re doing and turn toward our partner.
When we listen with interest and attune to their experience.
When we offer touch as a way to comfort and nurture…
We find our deep well of emotional generosity, regardless of the local weather.
Stay well and love deeply,
Sometimes we all need a little help.
I work with clients online or by phone from all over the world.
If you’d like to speak for 15 mins to say hello and discuss the details of working together to give you the love, sex and desire you long for, set up your call here:
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