Yesterday I was walking down 5th Ave and I couldn't help but notice a woman in tears, screaming into her cellphone (for simplicity, let's say her boyfriend was on the other end). These weren't little tears, she was freaking hysterical. "You made us leave the window open, wouldn't let me keep the light on, and stole all of the blankets!" she yelled.
POP QUIZ! Why is she really upset?
First off, she is accusing the person on the other line of only tending to their own needs. Therefore, she is insinuating that her needs were neglected. She's angry because he was being selfish.
But. People are selfish all the time. Who cares? Is it really worth the public spectacle? No.
Her pain comes from the belief that she is 'not enough.' Let me explain her thought process.
- He was selfish and only considered his own needs.
- He doesn't think my needs are important.
- If my needs aren't important to him, I am not important enough to him.
- I am not enough.
Unfortunately, at the heart of MOST arguments is this stinky little idea that I am not enough. What's even more unfortunate is that if you haven't identified your stinkin' thinkin', it's hard to spot and it's incredibly painful. NO WONDER SHE WAS GOING CRA'YZILLA ON THE SIDEWALK. That's some heavy baggage to carry around all day, everyday.
By not voicing her true needs, she was essentially expecting her partner to read her mind.
A simple alternative could have been:
1. Take a moment to reduce the *thing* that's bothering you to its simplest terms. If the answer doesn't reflect *you* in the equation (like, her answer is 'I am not enough'), then it hasn't been reduced far enough.
2. Realize no one has the power to make you feel a certain way. You decide what affects you. You're own self esteem is the only thing that makes you feel a certain way. If it's not making you feel like you're a significant, beautiful, amazing, complex individual then there's some work to be done and you cannot be blaming others :).
3. Take control and ask for what you want. Unless this clownbag is truly selfish, he probably would have easily compromised. Hint, if you voice your needs in a clear, concise way and the person still can't find it in themselves to make a compromise- perhaps you should reevaluate why there is a relationship in the first place.
As we head into the holiday season, I invite you to not breakup with your partner (or family) because they ate the last piece of pumpkin pie and they should have known that pumpkin pie is your absolute favorite kind of pie and you've been saving calories all week to have a piece and now the year is ruined.
Communicate! Until there's an app for reading minds, we will have to continue the old fashion way. Live through love, it's so much more fulfilling than living through angry phone calls.