09 Mar You Are Quite A Dancer!
My wife and my daughter (me, too, but don’t tell anyone!) like that TV show about celebrities trying to learn to dance. I think I like it because there is no way in the world I could do that. But there is a type of dancing that we all do and do quite naturally. A favorite book of mine and one that I recommend to lots of clients is called The Dance of Anger by Dr. Harriet Lerner. It’s subtitled “A woman’s guide to intimate relationships” but I find that the ideas there are helpful to anyone wanting to learn how to make their relationships healthier.
I’ll probably talk about many of the ideas in this book over time because her thinking matches up a lot with my training, thinking, and experience. A basic premise of the book is that we are all imbedded in relational systems and those systems operate in patterned ways. For example, think about disagreements you have with your spouse or other family member. I’ll bet if you consider closely you’ll find that these disagreements follow a fairly predictable pattern; you this, I that, you do more of this, I do more of that, and up we spiral or one of us exits the scene.
I’ll follow up on this idea many times but think about this. If, in fact, your disagreements are predictable and patterned, then here is an important thing you need to know. If you change one part of a system, you necessarily change the rest of the system. In plain English, if you break the “rules” and do something different from the predictable pattern, the other person or persons will necessarily have to do something different in response to your change. That’s pretty powerful if you think about it.
Try this. The next time you have an argument with a loved one, decide what in advance but change something – anything – from what you typically do. If you are a yeller, whisper. If you typically go to the bedroom to argue, go out on the back deck. If you usually don’t say anything but just take it, figure out how to kindly but firmly stand up for yourself (this last one is a toughie!). Change your steps and you may find yourself in a whole new dance. Now the new one may not be a great dance either but at least you will have shown yourself that you are not necessarily a slave to the old steps. And if new steps are possible then so are new healthier steps.