The Biggest Problem in a Relationship & How to Avoid It
By: Deb Maes
April 22, 2020
The biggest problem in any relationship is taking the other person’s pain and frustration personally. Always keep in mind, THEIR emotions are about THEM, not you.
You’ve had someone scream at you exactly the thing they do? My Grandma used to say, “That’s the pot calling the kettle ‘black.’” This is what we do as humans. We accuse others of what we really are. We don’t think it is about them. In our minds they are the problem.
Why do we do this? It’s because none of us are perfect and our mind pushes us towards further development all the time. It does this by pointing out to us where we can make adjustments.
Ever had something on your face and someone let you know? They say, ‘Hey, you have something there,’ and point to it, don’t they? You attempt to clean it, but it’s not so easy without a mirror, because you can’t see your own face, can you?
Guess what our minds do to get our attention to adjust something? It agitates and disturbs us. That’s because we are wired to move away from pain.
Then how does our mind point to where and what we need to improve?
There’s the problem. How can my mind show me ‘ME’? I am the only person on the planet I can’t see. I can see my family, colleagues, and friends, but not me. Through my eyes, I can only see me from the chest down (more or less) and I can’t take my eyes out and look at myself.
So my mind makes me notice out in the world the thing it wants me to pay attention to in myself. The biopsychology of how the reticular formation does this for us is really fascinating, but I won’t go into that here. Just test it for yourself for a few days. Each time you feel agitated with someone, be as if it’s about you in some way and ask yourself, ‘how is this true of me’, and see what happens.
How does this help in relationships? When I see someone is upset with me, especially if I think it is unjustified, I can pay careful attention to what it is they are seeing in me, and know that their mind wants them to see that. And rather than criticise them, I can help. I don’t have to add to their internal struggle by arguing that I DO listen and it is THEM that has a problem. I can just support them in doing their inner work.
Yep, even if they are cranky with me, I can still be a useful partner/wife/mother/friend, by not taking it to heart (you know that expression, don’t you), but by being their mirror and reflecting it back to them.
Now, when I say, ‘reflect it like a mirror’, I’m not talking about saying, “That’s about you, not me. Can’t you see that”? You can imagine the outcome that will get you, can’t you?
Instead I’m suggesting, if someone said, “You never listen”, I could say, “You’re right. It’s important that we really listen, isn’t it. How would you like me to do that better”? This lets them hear what their mind is trying to say… ‘it is important to listen ‘.
Now MY CONFESSION: I DON’T do that all the time, but when I do, I feel really good for me inside, even if they don’t know I have done that for them.