(5) Having compassion for yourself and your partner where you’d blame and disconnect in the past
EXAMPLE: My partner and I have struggled with scheduling for our entire relationship. As an anxiously attached woman, prone to feeling not considered, I would ask for VERY specific things I needed to make the scheduling process more easeful and less triggering for me. Sometimes he’d forget to do those specific things and I’d fly off the handle blaming him for not remembering and then pulling away to “take care of myself” but really I was retaliating for feeling triggered and hurt in the relationship. This kind of behavior is extremely damaging to partnerships. This behavior trains the other to feel like they have to do things perfectly and trains them to feel an unhealthy amount of guilt for making a mistake.
HEALING: Recently there was a scheduling thing that came up. My partner wasn't doing it the way I wanted. Striving to respond rather than react, I noticed that same place I would get upset and reach to blame and disconnect. This time I asked to put the scheduling task on hold and talk about the process calmly. I shared my underlying needs and asked for another adjustment to the process. It wasn't one he was excited to make at first and so I listened empathetically and compassionately to his underlying needs. I learned some new things - places where he felt hurt/triggered in our scheduling process - and I felt myself open and soften more and more as we went back and forth to find a solution that felt good for both of us. We hugged it out and proceeded to have a wonderful evening together.
LESSON: Making mistakes is a part of life. Sometimes we hurt each other unknowingly. Partnership allows you to grow your compassion and empathy when you or your partner slips up. We no longer have to always to disconnect to "take care of ourselves". We can stay connected, be understanding and work through the hurt towards a resolution.