The roughest fights Melissa and I ever slogged through had a three-part theme.
If you go back through our history of heart hurts, thwacked-off communication, and defensive Judo blocks honed in childhood, you’ll see a repeated dysfunction trio:
One — I wouldn’t let my heart be in the environment of Melissa’s painful feelings. (They might’ve cracked the dam holding back my own.)
Two — I tried to punch out problems rather than hugging her hurt.
Three — I advised her how she could just reframe her perception— and then she wouldn’t have to experience all that soul anguish.
Your grimace tells me you already surmised — this three-step method yielded the opposite of connection and trust.
We even named a few landmarks around town where some of our most intense anger erupted. Usually in peaceful nature walky spots. 🌳🦉🤯
After many rounds on the Craytown Carousel, I started noticing my behavior. I even listened to Melissa.
Upon some reflection, help from wise folks, and a little empathy, I imagined how I’d feel if I was in the pit of raw vulnerability and Melissa barreled in clad in emotion armor, swung a mace at all the concern-dragons flying around my heart, and assured me that if I just saw things a little differently, I’d admit that my perception was just an illusion of my own masochistic creativity.
As eager as I may be for an opportunity to dissociate from emotional discomfort, I could see the pain all my problem pummeling (read: control) caused.
I had to change this.
So, I looked at my Three Sure Steps to Reactive Emotional Distance and reverse engineered.
Before I tell you what I learned, may I invite you to think about a thing of yours?
It could be singing. It could be life.
(You may’ve put together that your singing is a trusty compass for your life things, too.)
Let’s say it’s jaw tension.
Or that head jutty thing your teacher’s been telling you about.
Or maybe it’s a habit you sense is thwarting your wellbeing — and you have a standing appointment to beat yourself up about said struggle.
How do you notice that you talk about that thing?
In a lesson or coaching — Oh, it’s my tongue tension. I can’t get rid of it. Oogghh I just need to RELAX.
Do you notice how the cells around the gossiped-about area respond to these pronouncements?
Or how do you react if you’re worked up about something and someone says to you, “Just relax!”?
Not a helpful statement in my experience.
What if you met these things with understanding?
What if you used the reverse-three-steps?
Here you go —
One — Notice your thing. Where does it light up in your body? Just notice it and any kind of sensation that activates around it.
Now, what if you say this?
Two — Now, what if you say this next?
“I love you.”
I love you, muscle engagement that’s taking over my tongue when I’m trying to sing this note. I love you, neck jut. I love you, thing I’m doing that I wanna stop(?) but can’t(?).
It’s not the first thing you wanna say to something you’d like to banish from your presence, but give it a try. How does it respond?
Three — Now give this a try:
Or if you don’t understand —
“I want to understand. I’m trying to understand.”
What happens to the energy around that thing?
In my experience, the teeth-grit knot I’ve cinched around myself gets looser.
And I see the reason the thing might’ve been there in the first place.
That jaw tension may have kept you alive when you were a kid and some things weren’t safe to let out.
That neck jut may be your body saying “I have to reach out to be heard. I can’t trust that anyone will come to me.”
The two and a half bowls of Lucky Charms at 10:30 pm may just be “If I let this intense energy I feel in my guts come up, I don’t know if there’ll be anyone there to tell me it’s gonna be all right. I’ll give it an inside sugar hug instead.”
When we meet these things with understanding, they can shift.
We did this last Friday in the master’s teaching seminar at BoCo, and folks said terrific things like
“The judgment seems to fall off of it when I look at it this way.”
“It doesn’t feel heavy anymore.”
“It turns into choices, and I have somewhere to go.”
(I have the best job. So lucky.)
I wanna invite you into these three things to say — to those you love and to you you love.
I love you.
I (want to) understand.
Just think how different the world would be if folks said this kind of stuff to each other and to themselves.
The good news is that you and I can be the one.
And when those around you notice that a little love and tenderness is objectively terrific, maybe they’ll wanna give it a go.
As you practice this, remember there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the song only you can sing.
ps This interview with Brene Brown and Bono from Unlocking Us was terrific.
pps The good word from the socials from me to you this week:
YouTube: Four Ways You’re Making Singing Harder than it Needs to Be (how to breathe in)
or you can also get these through the studio FB Page.
And from the ‘gram, here’s Walk to Work Wednesday, a riff on turning rules into choices. And if you missed the week before, here’s a rarely-heard POV on goals and believing in yourself. Get ready to take the pressure off.
Like, follow, lemme hear from you.
ppps And watch this space this month for news about monthly NYC workshops starting in January. Chances for you to work with me one on one or in groups — unlocking skill and beauty through your story and your brilliant body who already knows how to do a lot of things. I can’t wait. If you want to get updates about this, just email me.