Lots of us are cooped up, at home with loved ones indefinitely. Many are also going out to work, introducing extra stress of safety and health concerns to our homes and relationships. Add kids being home, financial strain, and isolation from support networks and our relationships are up against a lot. HTC wants to provide a resource for people trying to manage it all, while also maintaining a relationship so it will be there when we can leave freely again!

Wise Mind

In DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we teach the fundamental skill of mindfulness. At the core of this skill is Wise Mind. To reach wise mind, we must find the space where emotion and logic overlap. Start with the fundamental assumption that our partner or parent or child is doing the best they can, given the stressful times. Consider both the rational and emotional factors of the situation. When we allow ourselves to be in both spaces, our relationships benefit by the slowed response, the considerate nature of our actions. Wise mind creates space for conversation and gentle change. 

GIVE and FAST

These are two of the interpersonal basics of DBT. GIVE is intended to help maintain the relationship and FAST is to maintain your own self-respect. Balancing use of the two of them will help navigate relationship needs getting met while also taking care of yourself. 

GBe Gentle
IAct Interested
VValidate
EUse and Easy Manner

Use GIVE when your top priority is to nurture the relationship. It is about tone and making your partner or child feel supported and cared for. 

FBe Fair
ANo Apologies
SStick to Your Values
TTell the Truth

FAST is the skill for when maintaining your own self-respect is the primary objective. Fairly acknowledge what is happening and how you feel, without apologizing for emotions or having needs and wants. Know your values and keep them front and center. Be honest and don’t play games. Be direct. 

The Stories We Heard

Know your story, and your partners. What did you learn from your family, culture, neighborhood, school, church? Which of those are currently playing out and are you bringing them into the present moment in an unhelpful manner? Example: Your partner hears your request, pauses to take it in, spends a moment considering a response, hits send on an email, then responds to your request. In that time, you consider all the people who have ignored you in your life, all the times your needs were not met and your parents chose work over family. You are Up. Set. Perhaps your partner could’ve provided an indicator sooner, let you know you were heard. But now it’s too late, you’re beside yourself and this is going to turn into an all night thing. Sound kind of familiar? 

Pause. Breathe. 

Know where you are coming from. Attend to what you know of them, check all the facts: Is your partner mean spirited and cruel? Do they tend to your needs generally well? Give the benefit of the doubt. Approach your emotional response with curiosity and compassion. Then approach your partner with grace.

Radical Compassion

Tara Brach offers us a new practice in her recent book, Radical Compassion.  As mentioned above, compassion for self and others is a key piece of managing relationships in this unbelievably trying time. The RAIN meditation is a gift Brach outlines in her book, and it is briefly outlined here (though certainly check it out on your own!).

RRecognize what is happening (roots of understanding)
AAllow life to be just as it is (grounds of love)
IInvestigate with gentle attention (deepens understanding)
NNurture (awakens love)

Meditation practices of all sorts can be immensely helpful as a means to create space and respond in your relationship in a way that works. When our minds are operating at a slower pace, we can more effectively notice what is going on, internally and externally. This allows us to engage with loved ones in a way that feels good to all parties, despite the stress that everyone is under, and the extra together time you may be navigating.

One thought on “Relationship Reminders in Trauma Times

Leave a Reply