Courageous Conversations (or "Honey, we need to ta

February 5, 2010 

 Seattle, WA Couples Counseling

Last year when visiting San Francisco, we stopped by Pier 39, and couldn’t believe our ears! Click this you tube link and you'll see whatI I mean! ( )The resident Sea Lion’s family interactions were humorously deafening! The crowd of onlookers couldn’t help but smile at the silly and exaggerated antics between mates that sounded like a combination of market vendors and rabid street corner preachers! Oy ve!

Most intense family discussions occur at much quieter decibels; some are so silent they might as well be non- existent. How many times do couples stop short of a deeper conversation with their loved ones because it just seems too hard or exhausting to keep having less than satisfactory results? Most likely better conversations aren’t happening because we keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. (Take a note here… AA defines such behavior as ‘insanity!”) If the same ol’, same ol’, ain’t workin’ you probably need a different approach when you are not emotionally flooded. 

Courageous conversations provide some of the necessary ingredients for deep mutually satisfying relationships. It may seem like a roller coaster at times...but this is part of the thrill of living in a community where you get to grow to your potential. So think of the worst case scenario and how you would handle it. (most likely it won’t be as bad as you feared) Now, buckle your emotional seatbelt, pull on your “big boy pants” and begin to enter the process of meaningful dialogue. It may seem a bit scary...but the idea is to channel Winston Churchill’s motto; “NEVER give up!” while following these four guidelines....

1. Stay engaged: make a personal commitment to not run away regardless of the engagement of others. Staying engaged means to stay morally, emotionally, intellectually and socially involved in a dialogue, even if you feel like shutting down or checking out. Don’t leave a vacant body standing in your place!

2. Expect and Accept Non-Closure: To participate in a real dialogue you have to get over winning or losing, and accept that you won’t solve a deep issue in one sitting. Instead you must commit to an ongoing dialogue; seek first to understand, then to be understood. If you only get so far before you become overwhelmed, tell your partner that you need to take a break, but want to come back later at a specific time to continue the discussion.

3. Speak your truth! This involves risk! But it means to speak from your heart, being absolutely honest about your thoughts, feelings and opinions, rather than saying what you think someone else wants to hear. Until we can be completely honest, our dialogues will remain limited and less than satisfying.

4. Experience Discomfort: An honest conversation is likely to be uncomfortable at times. You won’t die by being honest, but you may start to sweat! By pushing past our fears, we will be entering into the place deep personal growth takes place, so that we can begin to have REAL discussions: each person takes turns listening and speaking.

Even with Sea Lions are your mentors, this will take practice, and you may need some coaching from a relationship expert to reach your desired goal, but just imagine what it would be like to be fully known and loved anyway!

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