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Decide how you will manage this relationship(DW# 793)

Once you have had time to process the emotional abuse and taken stock of its cost to you and to your life, you will need to decide what to do about this relationship.

 

Take the time you need to do this. It is not a good idea to hurry the process. It is not a good idea to make significant life decisions or to end/leave relationships when you are at the peak of emotional distress.

 

Some relationships are easier to let go of than others, of course. If gaslighting or emotional abuse is a part of a work relationship or a relatively new friendship, it is easier to walk away than when it is from a close family member or a spouse.

 

Please know that there is no right or wrong answer here. It is up to you whether you choose to continue or end this relationship. Please remind yourself that it is your situation and that your decision is valid even if other people in your life do not agree with it.

 

Before you decide, here are some options to consider:

 

You can walk...
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Asking for what you need(DW#744)

Yesterday we talked about how to support your family members if they are feeling down or having a bad day.
 
What about you, though? Are you brave enough to ask for support from them? Many of us may be used to being there for others and find it challenging to ask for support in return.
 
If so, consider this: when we ask others to support us, we are actually giving them a gift:
 
The gift of letting them into our internal world
The gift of feeling emotionally connected to another
The gift of being there for someone else (and we know that feels good, right?)
The gift of modelling what intimacy looks like
The gift of being able to language emotions (emotional literacy)
The gift of recognizing that it is okay to have emotions and we do not need to act on them. That they will come and go
The gift of recognizing that we have the ability and the power to be there for a loved one and to make them feel better or feel supported.
 
So are you brave enough to share your...
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Supporting your loved ones(DW#743)

Once we get into the habit of checking in with each other, we will begin to get a better idea of where different members of the family are on any given day.
 
When you notice that someone is really struggling that day, for whatever reason, and you are in a stronger place, offer them support.
 
What do you need right now?
How can I help?
Do you need me to listen or offer suggestions?
Would it help if you got a night off from chores?
I am here.
You are not alone.
Do you need some time/space to be by yourself?
Shall we go for a walk together?
You have my permission to do what you need to right now to take care of yourself.

And sometimes, the best support may be to say nothing, offer a hug or simply sit with them and allow them to have their feelings.

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Understanding does not equal agreement(DW#742 )

In any relationship, we will not always be "on the same page". We will see things differently and have different reactions to the same event. This is quite common and even healthy. To have a strong and healthy relationship, we do not need to have the same thoughts and opinions about everything.

One of the things that trips many of us when we are practicing validation is when the other person views things very differently from how we do.

For example, if our spouse gets upset at her co-worker because she is late to work every day, we may struggle to understand why this is such a big deal. It may not matter to us what time our co-workers get to work and we may even empathize with the co-worker because she is a single mother with small children.

It can be very challenging to listen to someone whose world view, thoughts and opinions are different from ours.

When this happens, we need to remind ourselves that listening and trying to understand where the other person does not...

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Check your understanding(DW#741)

Here is another thing about trying to understand someone’s inner world: You will get it wrong. Quite often in fact.

As we develop our validation skills, we may get the emotion, the experience or the meaning behind it wrong.

This makes sense, because after all, we are trying to get a glimpse of someone else’s experience from our world view. Our lens and their lens are not the same. Our experience is not the same as their experience. We are trying to visit a foreign land and we may struggle to understand the language and the customs.

So, when you are trying to validate and get it wrong, remind yourself that it this is common and that you are learning. Your continuing effort to do this is the most important thing for your relationship.

To clarify your understanding of your loved one’s internal world, try some open-ended questions such as:

Can I ask some questions to help me get this?
I need your help to understand this better.
Is this a good time to talk?
Tell me...
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Examples of validation (DW#740)

We have been talking about demonstrating our care and understanding of our loved ones by validating their emotions and experiences.

There are, of course, many many ways to validate. The essence of validation is to demonstrate that you recognize their emotions and that given their experience and world view, it makes sense that they would feel that way.

Here are some examples:

Here is what I am hearing you say (summarize what the other person has told you).

I can see that you are (sad, scared, angry, etc.)
I can see you are doing your best and are working hard.
Yeah, I can totally see how that would make you feel really (sad, scared, angry, etc.)
It makes sense that you would be so upset about that.
Tell me more (shows interest).
I can see you are overwhelmed. Can we talk about it?
It sounds like you are scared and this is hard for you.
I can see that this is important to you.
Given your values, this must really mean a lot to you.
Of course… that makes...
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What to do instead of trying to cheer people up(DW#739)

Yesterday, we discussed how trying to get people to look on the bright side rarely works to cheer them up.

So what should we do instead?

Try validation.

Very briefly, human beings desire to connect. We communicate because we crave connection. And that connection comes from being heard, understood, and appreciated.

 
Validation is the art of communicating the understanding and appreciation of another human being. The message of validation is: you matter to me. You make sense. You are important.

Validation is one of the most important relationship skills and one that few of us are naturally proficient at. We need to be intentional in developing it. This is the hard work of being in relationship but the rewards in terms of connection and intimacy are SO worth it.

Effective validation has two main components:

 
 1.    It identifies a specific emotion
2.    It offers justification for feeling that emotion – this is...
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Are you trying to get loved ones to look on the bright side?(DW#738 )

We have been talking about checking in with family members.

What do we do though, if they share that they are struggling or not feeling great emotionally?

How do we make them feel better? How do we cheer them up?

Have you tried any of the following?

·      You’ll be fine.

·      Let’s focus on gratitude.

·      It could be worse!

·      We have it better than so many people.

·      At least it’s not [fill in the blank].

·      Look on the bright side

·      Just put a smile on your face and tough it out.

·      This too shall pass.

·      Don’t worry; things will work out.

·      You/We shouldn’t feel that way.

...

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Rose bud and thorn(DW#737)

Here is possibly my favourite way to check in with others.

Ask family members to think of their "rose, bud, and thorn" of the day:

Rose: this is the best thing that happened to them during the day.
Bud: is something they are looking forward to with hope.
Thorn: is the worst thing that happened to them today.

Please remember that the point is not to discuss why they think a particular thing is a rose or a thorn. Please do not discuss how their "thorn" is not so bad or try to get them to see the rose amongst the thorn!

That is NOT the point of this exercise.

The more we are able to validate and listen with understanding and compassion, the more open the others will be to moving beyond their current feelings and emotions.

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Highs and Lows(DW#736)

Here is another way to keep connected with the internal world of your loved ones and check in with them.

It is call Highs and Lows. It is a great way to spark off dinner conversation about the happenings of the day.

Ask people to think of their "high and low" of the day – this is the best thing that happened to them during the day, and the worst thing that happened to them.

Give everyone a chance to think, then have everyone share with the family.

Once again, it is up to the person whether they want to explain and elaborate on their feelings about what happened, or not.

Conversations like this are very helpful in letting our family know that we can talk about the hard and challenging stuff as well as the happy and positive stuff. That both our successes and our challenges can be discussed and will be met with validation and understanding.

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