One of the areas that Jack and I had the most conflict around was money. It seemed like every time we got into an argument, each of us was trying to convince the other how much we did and how underappreciated we felt. These arguments usually began as fairly reasonable discussions but soon deteriorated into, “I do this, this and this…and you never seem to notice or think that it is a big deal”, pissing contests…and nothing ever changed.
One day, we sat down together, looked at this unhappy pattern, and made a decision do something about it. We decided to tell each other what we noticed and appreciated about what the other one did without interjecting what we did. It was a challenge. At one point I felt like I was sitting in class, wiggling in my seat, with my hand raised, saying, “I also do this, this, and this, too..!” I wanted to be appreciated for the things that I thought were important so much so, that I almost wasn’t listening to Jack tell me about the things that he appreciated about me. He noticed the same pattern within himself.
We decided to make room for the, ” I want to tell you what I don’t think you are noticing about what I do and I am dying to tell you!” at the end of the “exercise”, but for the moment, we were only to tell and listen, to each other. At the end of this we both agreed that it had been the best discussion we’d ever had around money. But it went beyond money. Later in the day I thought about some of the things that I appreciated about Jack, and felt so much inner happiness. Is there any feeling more divine than genuine gratitude? A surprise feeling also popped up; I felt a new love and appreciation for myself.
When I was feeling unappreciated, angry, and resentful, those feelings informed my life…especially around money. When I really let myself feel appreciation for Jack and for what he did, the feelings naturally spread out to me and my life…especially, but not exclusively around, money.
When I look for what someone (including myself) did wrong in the past, that is what I will see in their (and my) present.
“To look backward for the source of current problems can lead you into the habit of seeking only negative episodes from your past, and prevent you from experiencing it as a source of pleasure, accomplishment, or success.” From the book by Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality.
10 thoughts on “A new perspective”
Bunnies have a special place in my heart. My daughter was in 4H and we had many rabbits. Not only did I love the rabbits, but my daughter and I formed a special bond during her 4H years.
This is such a beautiful post, Mary. And I love the bunny painting! ❤
Wow…the law of attraction doing its natural work…you paint your darling bunnies and one comes to make a home in your yard! I love that!
Your post brings to mind a very compelling listening exercise we used to do with executives at leadership retreats. And even though I am now retired, I see on a daily basis, its application in all aspects of and relationships in our lives. This one seems similar to what you and Jack did. We were offsite at a hotel for 3 days. After dinner the second night, the participants were to go to their rooms and call someone (parent, spouse, child, coworker, employee, friend, sibling) who they knew they had not been listening to or paying attention to lately, perhaps had even neglected. But it needed to be a relationship that was important to them. They were to tell the person that they wanted to listen and promised to listen without judgement. That they would listen in silence, without speaking, justifying, defending, explaining, advising, etc. To just let the other person speak and to not respond with anything other than a ‘thank you…I hear you…and I understand’. Many of the execs were skeptical. And off we went for the night. The debriefing would happen the next morning. A little after 11:00pm that night the phone in my room rang. I was one of the coaches at the time and knew all of the participants and indeed had worked with most of them at some point or another. So it wasn’t that odd that one would reach out to me. Anyway, the gentleman on the other end of the phone was in tears. He asked if he could meet me in the meeting room. I wanted to say “Now?!” Little did he know that I had cream on my face, wet hair, etc!!! But I quickly dressed and down I went. When I walked in he was sobbing. He said that the listening exercise may have just saved his marriage. He had had no idea about how his wife had been feeling and what came pouring out of her mouth! He had swung his inner pendulum so far to his professional life, with the justification that he was providing for his family, that his personal life was suffering and he hadn’t stopped to consider or notice how much. He was the first to raise his hand and share with the other execs the next day what had happened…and others had experienced similar ephipanies. I’ve done the exercise too. More than once. It can be life changing. Listening matters. Our hearts and our souls expand when we take the time to really listen to others…and to ourselves. Sorry this is so long! You triggered a very fond and intense and gratifying memory and reminder for me. Thank you Mary! Happy happy March everyone!
Kathye, I have tears in my eyes just reading your posting. Very few of us would have the opportunity or willingness on both parties to undertake such an exercise as you’ve done in the past with your job or as Mary and Jack have done. It would be so easy to slip into blame and not hear the other person and then loose all that had been intended and hoped for.. SandyP
Yes, Sandy you are so right that such a conversation might present some risk. And it’s for that reason that the exercise was set up to be one way. Some are just not in a place that makes it possible to listen. That darn blame game. But the reward can be so great. And timing is indeed important. The listener must be willing to set their ego aside for 20 minutes, allow themselves to be vulnerable, be ready to hear things that may hurt or make them uncomfortable, yet still make it safe for the other to respond honestly by asking them a question like ‘what do you wish I knew’? And then just listening. And doing it over the phone helped because you could not see each other’s body language or facial expressions that could further impact the dialogue. In the example I mentioned above, after asking that question, and after several long seconds of silence, his wife replied ‘I wish you knew that tonight is the 50th night so far this year that you have been away’. That’s what she said. What the workshop helped him to hear were the possibilities behind her first statement that might have gone unsaid like…’and I miss you’. And then focusing on those possibilities as opposed to getting defensive about the words. It takes a lot of self-discipline and a strong desire from both parties to improve the communication/relationship and not to view everything as an accusation. Yes, easier said than done. We all want/need to be heard. And our learning came from all of the open sharing of the participants…another example of when listening to others advanced all of us as a team! This whole day has been a great reminder for me! Thanks!
Mary, Your quote by Jane Roberts, I hate to admit, should be my mantra for all time, hung around my neck, pasted to the walls of my studio, glued to my psyche as a constant reminder not to dwell on past perceived comfortably-lodged issues which obviously hold only me back from living in the present. It’s so easy to reside in the comfort of our own seemingly justified positions in a relationship. I can’t believe how transportable these issues are from one relationship to another. It’s so refreshing to hear you talk about it, often a very private issue between couples and a bone of contention as well at times, here. Also, I had not thought to provide my resident rabbits with carrots, I shall do so today, before the raccoons come out of hibernation. I, too, am fascinated by rabbit images. Early this morning, the dogs witnessed one of our resident porch bunnies scurrying past their noses outside the door; they were frantic. I’m wondering if you are familiar with the works of Igor Galanin. The page of his website for his rabbit and other animal paintings is: http://igorgalanin.com/portfolio/animals. My goal is to afford one of his rabbit paintings…one day perhaps. .
Sandy P in Canada
Well, here I go again. Today’s discussion opened up some realization in me that at my age should have happened years ago. My husband likes to talk. Believe it or not, for a kid, when I knew him growing up who never said a word (to the opposite sex at least) he enjoys chit/chat, small talk whereas I enjoy having a short conversation (although from my writing you’d never know it !!)and learning stuff. I haven’t the a**power to sit for long, I guess. So, today when he went to his brother’s 80th birthday gathering and I had been planning on going, it was to take two cars, so that I could leave when I wanted to leave. I was complaining about him being stuck in his own agenda. Today, I looked at me and my agenda and realized, he’s not the only one with an agenda. I have one too, and it’s not always and seldom is compatible with his. Instead of complaining about him not being flexible, I took a good look at me and realized, I’m living in a glass house…hmmm! A case of the pot calling the kettle black, I think ! (I had a bad cold and didn’t attend the family function, instead slept through two hours of WNED fundraising with an Australian Shepherd draped over me). If nothing else, I have fleeting moments of his attention span (talk aeroplanes and I have his attention but wouldn’t know what I was talking about) so whatever discussion that occurs around here has to be brief and to the point, carefully to the point. I could never do as Kathye has done in business or Mary and Jack have done, it wouldn’t be possible but today’s talk did open my eyes…about me. Frankly, I had to laugh at myself for complaining all these years about HIS agenda….more fool me.
Sandy P in Canada…
I love the bunnies! I have two satin ruby eyed angoras and they are the sweetest little things. When I see your paintings, I think of them and it makes me smile.
Mary, just a quick note to say that I wondered if Beatrix Potter had had me on as a child…bunnies like carrots, she wrote. I bought some carrots yesterday, cut them up fine and put them under the bird feeder. There they sat. I wondered if rabbits preferred the greens rather than the carrot itself. I felt cynical, maybe Beatrix Potter was wrong. And then this morning, I got up and there beneath my bird feeder was a fat little bunny, all hunched up, tidily eating my carrot rounds. Not many have been eaten but I can now believe in Beatrix Potter again.
SandyP in Canada
I LOVE that thought, Sandy! Thank you for sharing this.
Comments are closed.