Most of us arrive at adulthood with at least a few crappy, if not horrible, habits (I think I had a few hundred)! Of course we arrive with myriad good and great habits and qualities as well, thank goodness!
Many of said crappy habits are present in the emotional realm, and certainly aren't exempt from spilling, or avalanching, into our most sacred relationships.
Isn't it just too true that those whom we care most about are also those who see and experience our darkest of shadows? What's interesting is those we'd never dare hurt intentionally, are indeed the ones who are bowled over in the wake of whatever dysfunction, aggression, and nasty habits we carry.
Life is a journey, and it goes essentially one of two ways … Life is lived haphazardly or intentionally.
Most of us begin adulthood on the haphazard train. Including beliefs, habits, behaviors, thought patterns, mental and emotional patterns, and characteristics of those who conditioned and socialized us, combined with natural personality and temperament.
This version of self either persists to the end or at some point a decision is made to lean into an intentional journey of self discovery and joyful living. On this path, you question each belief, thought, action, decision, habit and pattern to ensure it's aligned with our highest good and purpose, and then deliberately choose whether it's useful and you want to keep, shift or dispose of any given habit, thought, belief or pattern.
When we remain aligned with haphazard living, many challenges exist and persist. Painful emotional patterns carried into adulthood are often that of emotional terrorism, instead of what we may prefer, an emotional sanctuary.
Have you ever felt so wounded that you wanted to run, literally run, away from your lover? Conversely, have you ever felt so close to your partner that you wanted to stay in bed for a month or even crawl inside of their skin (ok, that's a little creepy)? While these are certainly opposing ideas in a relationship, you spend more time on one end of the spectrum than the other. These two points illustrate the difference between a relationship that embodies emotional safety and sustainability or emotional terrorism and an inevitable collapse.
"There are few elements more important to lasting love than curating emotional safety."
MOST COMMON NASTY LITTLE HABITS OF EMOTIONAL TERRORISM!
The following list may be ideas you engage in, invite from your partner, or allow and thus take part in perpetuating. This list isn't fun, but remember as you read, any habit that you've learned and practice can be replaced if you choose to put forth the effort and dedication.
* Seething Resentment.
* Silent treatments / stone-walling.
* Excuses and blaming.
* Lack of personal responsibility.
* Guilt trips.
* Withholding truth or feelings or partial truth or feelings.
* Avoiding difficult conversations.
* Pleasing or appeasing to avoid upset.
* Door slamming or other aggressive displays designed to intimidate.
* Passive aggression.
* Holding back love, care, sex, intimacy, or vulnerability as punishment.
* Creating drama for the sake of having upset.
* Justifying bad behavior.
* Fighting to be right for the sake of winning.
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I know, it's not a fun list, and may have even given you a bit of anxiety or tummy ache. But it's important to acknowledge where you and your lover fall down as a couple (and as individuals) so you can learn to stand up on fresh inspiring ground as you move forward. If it makes you feel any better, in my old relationship life, I used to engage in or invite essentially all of the above- Ugh! But now almost never glimpse any of them. There is hope for all who want to live inside of a peaceful, loving, passionate sanctuary- and any couple can learn to foster such a beautiful space.
BEST HABITS OF EMOTIONAL SAFETY
* Unconditional self and other regard.
* Asking questions.
* Sharing how you feel – actually stating "I feel…."
* Respond with love and kindness even when there's disagreement.
* Unconditional support.
* Being vulnerable no matter what.
* Candor, even if you feel afraid.
* Sharing your heart, even if you fear being rejected or abandoned.
* Practicing equality.
* Being impeccable with your word (The Four Agreements).
* Being independent and maintaining individuality.
* Honoring yourself.
* Living in a place of service and gratitude.
* Focusing on what you love about your lover, especially when tempted toward the opposite!
* Giving space when needed.
* Being soft or gentle.
* Be willing to pause, discuss and return when calm.
Ahhh… doesn't this list just feel soft, caring and well, like a sanctuary? Let's look at how you can make the shift from haphazard or emotionally terrorizing to an intentional, safe and joyful relationship.
TAKE ACTION- FROM TERROR TO SAFETY!
1) Get Clear: The first step is about gaining clarity and taking responsibility for where "you" are. Select your biggest and worst offenders from the nasty list and decide that you do indeed want to trade habits of terror to those of safety. You can only change yourself. Thus spending energy wishing for your partner to change is a waste of time. Every great shift begins in your own heart and mind. However, if you're reading this post with your partner (or share it with him or her) and want to make a fresh commitment to each other, all the better!
2) What Do You Want? Step two is determining what you want to create in your life and what you will no longer allow or participate in. This must be a firm commitment because when your pain is triggered of you feel offended, you will be more than tempted to engage in the nasty and harmful habits. Be prepared, and have a plan.
3) Set Goals: This is a lovely task to do together and will encourage connection and growth. From the two lists above, determine what you want to develop first, second and third; then create a "how to" plan. For example, every couple can improve in sharing their feelings in honest and vulnerable ways. Perhaps you each decide that for the next 30 days, you share 3 "I feel..." statements per day. (You will be shocked at how difficult this is for most people.)
4) Schedule "board" meetings: Scheduling regular planning, strategy or a couple's board type meeting on a monthly basis is a great practice for couples who want have unbridled joy, passion and fulfillment! Be sure to set an agenda ahead of time. Use this time to discuss dreams, changes you're making and shifts you have made. Go over goals you want to work on, successes and new goals you'd like to set.
What's most important is that you find ways to use your words, share your heart and express yourself in healthy and loving ways.
EXTRA NOTE ABOUT EMOTIONAL SAFETY
I'm abundantly and beyond words grateful to clearly understand and live the differences between emotional safety and terrorism. Today I share a partnership with my best friend, travel companion, business partner, confidant, and lover. I share this not to brag, but to illuminate what's possible for everyone.
Not only have I come from a place where I practiced the dysfunctional and miserable habits laid out in the "nasty" category, but I've had experiences where I've been laughed at in lingerie, told I was 5 pounds from being dumped and been passed over for porn and strippers by lovers. Yes, in my old life, I chose some real dandies! The point is, anyone can come from anywhere, then choose an intentional path and land anywhere your heart desires. You can literally have any life or relationship you're willing to conjure up!
Good luck and cheers to intentional creation!
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Cheers to Liberate Living! Shawn