By Jewel Safren, LCSW
If you have read my articles, you may remember that I am a big fan of Innate Health. Innate Health explains how we are all living in the feeling of our thinking. This understanding can have an impact on every area of our lives. Innate Health shows us that one of the most common problems in relationships is that we give each other’s bad moods or upsets too much meaning.
For example, say your wife has a bad day and comes home very grumpy. She is short with you and does not give you any positive attention. You might react with, “Why won’t you talk to me? You never talk to me when you’re upset.” Or you may yell or nag or shut down—whatever you do when you get upset. The more you nag or yell the more upset your wife gets, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Or what if your husband comes home after a long day, and runs straight to the computer or phone. You may feel hurt and rejected and retreat. You may think, “If he really loved me, he would want to spend time with me.” Meanwhile your husband is thinking, “I work hard all day and just need some time to relax. What does she want from me?” Now he’s feeling angry and upset and he pulls away too. Can you see the negative spiral?
I can’t tell you how many clients have told me the same story (of course, this has never happened to me). They think their husband is acting like an idiot. They get into a fight with him. The fight escalates. “You did this,” quickly becomes “You always do this!” and “I hate when you do this…and your whole stupid family does it too!” It’s throwing oil on the fire. After that, very often, comes the silent treatment or the cold shoulder. Then both people feel like the other person has to apologize (nobody wants to do this first because of pride—ouch). Meanwhile, you start to long for the closeness with the other person, but you can’t express that (God forbid) because of your pride. It can take anywhere from a day to weeks to months to a lifetime to go through this cycle.
If you understand the concepts of Innate Health, you understand that feelings are constantly changing. You know not to take others’ feelings—and your own—so seriously. You can think, “OK, they’re acting like an idiot. I’ll go read my book.” And when they calm down, instead of WW III, the whole thing has passed like it never happened.
When we take each other’s bad moods, anger and upsets seriously and react to them with our own stuff (whatever that may be—shutting down, being critical etc.), we are creating a negative spiral.
In Innate Health, we come to see that our emotions are constantly changing, and we do not have to attach too much significance to them.
So now a different scenario. Your wife comes home after a bad day and is very grumpy and gives you no positive attention. But this time you understand that her bad mood does not mean anything about you. You say to yourself, “Wow she is really in a bad mood. It is probably better if I leave her alone and give her some space.” Two hours later, your wife has cooled down and tells you about her day. You and she are in good rapport and feeling connected. Another new scenario: Your husband comes home after a long day and runs to the computer or phone. You understand that he needs some relaxation time alone, and your thoughts telling you, “He doesn’t love or care about or want me…” are just passing thoughts and do not mean anything. They do not have to be taken seriously. After an hour or two of relaxation alone time, you two can naturally have some time together with a feeling of good rapport.
Can you see how this works in real life? Your partner can be upset. You do not have to do anything about it. You do not have to fix it. They do not have to apologize. You do not have to give them the cold shoulder. You do not have to make them “pay” for a few days. You can just let it go.
What if it’s not just a bad mood, but something that really does need to be addressed? Well, if you don’t get stuck in your emotional reaction, you can deal with it from a place that’s creative, rational and understanding. You can come to a solution instead of starting a fight.
Every day comes with its ups and downs. If you get caught up in that, then every day is going to be a roller coaster. But if you can look past the petty ups and downs, and focus on your connection as a whole, your whole experience will change. When you can stop running down the spiral of emotional reactions, it’s much easier to feel close to your partner. Trust me, it’s incredibly freeing.
Jewel Safren MSW, LSW, LCSW has over 35 years of experience in counseling, life coaching and public-speaking coaching. She has worked with people all over the US and in Europe, and runs popular personal growth workshops, webinars and classes. She is recommended by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz; Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, B.Ed, M.Sci.; Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn and Rabbi Mordechai Becher. She lives in West Orange with her hubby and two kids, and has two married kids and two grandsons living in California. You can contact Jewel at 973-464-8556 or, if you would like to be on her mailing list or for more information, visit email@example.com.