I came back from a five-day silent retreat in Cornwall this past week and it gave me the time to reflect and sit with myself. The silence wasn’t difficult; in fact, it was a relief not talking. This got me thinking about how couples talk to one another and how sometimes silence might be the better option.
Couples therapy is all about talking. It is without question that by doing so it gives couples a better understanding of their problems. This in turn allows them to process what their feelings are, and also to learn what their partners are feeling. Couples therapy provides a framework for couples to reflect and think before they speak, usually because there is a therapist in the room!
Tips on Mindful Speaking:
SLOW IT DOWN:
It’s a reflex reaction to say the first thing that comes into ones head when talking about difficult issues with your partner.
This is exactly the time to STOP, GROUND OURSELF AND NOT REACT. This advice is easily said and even when we sometimes manage it, we will inevitably relapse. It is a slow process and being patient with oneself is key.
HOW TO SLOW IT DOWN:
Listen to your body; it is our biggest resource. Even when we cannot connect with the signs and signals our body will reveal them to us. It is the fight or flight reaction we instinctively knew as children but need to relearn again as adults. Growing up, we’ve lost these innate tools from years of learning to protect ourselves from hurt and pain. These walls need to come down.
SIGNALS OUR BODIES TELL US:
A tightening to parts of our bodies such as chest, stomach or throat is the first clue. These are the most common signals that something is going on within us. When we are able to notice these tensions in our bodies and allow ourselves to sit with them without judgment, we are allowing a process of accessing the unconscious part of our psyche to let us know what we are feeling.
STATING AND NAMING THE FEELINGS:
By giving this internal space and not allowing our mind to start creating a narrative about the feelings that are arising, we can see the situation more clearly. When we are clear as to what the feeling is and why that bothers us we then have a better capacity to communicate this to our partner.
The more in tune we are with ourselves the more in tuned we become with others. This will help let us know instinctively when it’s time to speak and when it’s better to let things go. Fine tuning….