Have you ever noticed how the thing you want to most forget is the thing you can’t stop thinking about? Or how if you dread running into someone on the street and think about that you find your dread growing?
This is, in part, because of how our brains work. If you think about something that is intensely emotional for you, your brain experiences it as if you are going through that thing – making it more real for you, rather than helping you let it go. What you resist, persists.
Counselors sometimes talk about letting difficult emotions flow through you – advice that I have found very useful. Acknowledge the grief or fear that you feel – name that it is there – without resisting it and making your mind dwell on it. Think to yourself – this is something I am feeling and it makes sense that I am feeling it. As an emotion, it will eventually die down again.
Another approach is to stop engaging with the emotion and creating a plan for when the emotion shows up again that will allow you to move on. For example, if you fear running into someone you know on the street, don’t focus on that fear but, rather, on your plan to hold your head high and walk on by. Knowing how to address the event, should it happen, allows you to address or move away from the fear rather than resist it.
In a practical sense, if you resist hearing your partner’s point of view they will likely feel dissatisfied and come back at you later to try to get you to listen better. Though not always easy, it is simpler to listen and reflect the first time around, avoiding the frustration and anger that may come with your resistance.
Are you resisting in ways that make your situation worse?
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