Friday, July 21, 2006

UNDERSTANDING UNDERSTANDING
My husband calls me "the Professor", as in "The Professor and Mary Ann, here on Gilligan's Island." That is because, like the Professor, I just happen to know a little something about everything, or think I do, anyway, and sometimes thinking I do is quite enough for me to be quite convincing, quite!
At least once a month I wow him with my latest theory. We then go immediately to his "buck, buck, buck, embrace" reaction, which consists of him telling me I'm full-of-shit for 29-days, then embracing my latest theory, totally stealing it, and passing it off as his own. My latest theory with that, is we'll eventually get it down to "buck, embrace", and long about our golden anniversary we'll just have "embrace". Just a theory.
The last theory-of-the-month was that "everything is contagious". Go ahead, take a moment to breath in the absolute brilliance of that, and you'll see that I'm right. Actually, that one was my biggest success, thus far, with him, only two "bucks" before the "embrace".
July's theory-of-the-month is "Understanding Understanding", and it goes a little something like this...
We talk too much, especially to our spouses and children. We "help" too much, we "suggest", we "distract", we point out the bright side, we want them to come to resolution as quickly as possible, because we're all one tightly connected unit, and their unhappiness is our unhappiness, their bad mood is our bad mood, and their anxieties make us anxious.
Let me suggest this, close your coffee drinking hole, and state the obvious to them. It's a little like the "active listening" of yester-year, but even simpler. As they rant and rave you lock eyes, nod, keep asking, "what else?", until they are spent. Then you say something so simple like, "You're ____________," frustrated, bored, angry, tired, jealous, whatever they may be. Then sit back and watch their stress bubble burst! You don't offer to fix it, you just completely understand them. We, as humans, just want to be understood. Once the other humans in our lives feel understood, the black cloud over their heads begins to dissipate, and then they can come up with solutions to their own problems. Often, the problem isn't even the problem, it's the needing to be understood that is really their problem.
With small children I like to add one little nugget. Let's say two kids are fighting over who gets to sit where, who gets the last popcicle, who gets to choose the video, etc. To the one that "loses", you say, "You get to practice wanting and not getting." Think about it! If all the people milling about the planet knew how to handle wanting and not getting, we'd have no crime! This is an essential life skill, but we don't like our kids to feel "bad", so we rush in to make them happy again, often, at the expense of this valuable, planet-saving skill!
So, when our planet is saved, you can thank me. Until then, keep tuning in to the "Theory-of -the-Month Club!"

11 comments:

lala said...

You are right on with the understanding thing!! Did it with my oldest daughter yesterday when she cried on my shoulder (literally!!) about her teenage angst. I didn't "fix" anything, but I got the BIGGEST hug.

PS Can't wait to try your nugget on my littles. They have the kinds of personalities that will really get it.

kario said...

No bucking from me! I'm just embracing this one. And it is perfect timing for me - I was just beginning to feel the "contagion" from the kids' whining when I stopped, took a deep breath, and let them practice. You're brilliant!

Go Mama said...

Bingo! Billiant Carrie.

So good.

Carrie Wanna Be said...

Send Stanny boy to me, I have no theories, I love it when people take credit for my ideas (when I get an idea, which is rarely) and there's no saddle I'll toss over his back for the buck and break contest...just a lot of grass to chew in this field, chew and chew and chew...

moooooooooo.

I think he'd really like it here.

jennifer said...

Could have used that one a couple hours ago when Jo Jo went into major meltdown about how much she loves me and doesn't want to go with daddy for a swim and a snow cone...oy!

Reverse Stalker said...

Honey, you are so dead on right with your theory...just listen to those whiny little critters...they will pipe down given enough time...

...and I say, when the conversation seems to be going on and on...you know, dragging out...it'll help pass the "listening time" to have a little cuppa tea nearby.

Peppermint for the tummy, chamomile for the nerves!

(is this horse dead yet? I think not!!!)

Anonymous said...

You are so right...everything is contagious. At first I thought about all of the negative things that are contagious, but then, bingo....so are the positives! Remember, your children are watching you. Great insight, Carrie. T

Ziji Wangmo said...

GREAT insight- yet, sometimes it's just so hard not to insert my opinion! I should have used this technique this morning when someone started to vent on me -I got sucked into the black hole and the fire just got bigger. I should have just listened...

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

Love this! I am trying it out and sent it to friends.
Lee

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