Last week we asked the question. This week we talk about solutions!
I love problem solving…
Step One: Acceptance
The first, and probably most important, step to becoming emotionally available is to respect the value of emotional connection. Many people who are, or are with someone who is emotionally unavailable probably had parents and potentially even grandparents who lacked the ability or desire to connect.
I remember my mother telling me about how she was to be seen and not heard when she was a child. How many of us have heard this before? How is anyone expected to develop a connection with parents who discouraged two-way communication? What would they have available to teach us? How do we learn the skills to develop connections with the world when our most important connection has yet to be made? We must be open to starting at the beginning and learning to navigate the ebb and flow of relationships without judgment or fear of reprieve. This is the safe space we needed from our parents that we must now find within relationships of our choosing. Not only will this process teach us how to connect for our own benefit, it will provide us with the ability to truly connect with our children in a way that provides a safe space for them.
Step Two: Discomfort
The ever popular comfort zone. The area where we tend to be most safe emotionally because we have a perceived sense of control but others tend to feel unsafe. “Control is a big motivator. It is both an internal and external function. Internally, control brings safety because the person feels in charge, able to make life decisions that will keep his or her world from flying off in a million directions. Externally, control is a need to take power from someone else in order to feel powerful.” (Check out Emotional Unavailability by Bryn Collins)
While our default may provide less discomfort for us, we should persevere through them to allow the opportunity for growth and to avoid displacing discomfort from ourselves to others. Instead, we should sit with our feelings, identify the default and figure out how to feel some level of safety within our current situation. Not to try and fix it, but rather to accept it and make decisions from a true sense of power. Attempting to be powerful over others is not true power.
Step Three: Solutions
Positioning ourselves from a place that is focused on a solution should help to reframe a situation with a highlight on the actual problem instead of the person. The intention here is to solve for everyone – not gratify our ego. Trust that any personal need can be met by uncovering the truth of the whole. If an individual is behaving in a way that causes discomfort we can satisfy our needs by seeing reality and behaving accordingly in spite of the individual as opposed to attempting to control the outcome by influencing the individual.
No one is the source of any problem because the problem does not exist outside of our own minds. We are not victims of the world. We cannot fix every person or situation so things fall according to our desire. We must acknowledge that other people have needs that they are trying to meet just like we are. It is unreasonable to expect that we can play games, manipulate, bully, or guilt our way to happiness at other people’s expense.
What we can do is be assertive about our truth. Start from the intention to find a reasonable outcome for all. Together or not; stay friends or not should be an outcome you decide upon. Yes, this is classic reframing and it works! Identify the problem – then determine the solution. How many times do we address a problem with what we want to be the solution? “You need to do ….” Instead of “Why did you do ….” Asking why helps you to understand the picture as it is seen in the other person’s eyes. Your position is still safe – it is not going anywhere and will be there after you have heard them out. I promise! Once you have heard the other perspective, you are responsible for behaving accordingly.
“People who are emotionally unavailable don’t take responsibility for what they can’t see in themselves and can’t identify in others.” Bryn Collins
Purposefully decide how you feel. Acknowledge others. Empathize. Make a choice that is right for you. Present that choice with respect for others.