Relationships: The Challenge of DisengagingBy Dr. Margaret Paul
December 29, 2008
Are you reactive in conflict with people who are important to you and you often end up feeling angry and miserable? Discover the secrets to lovingly disengaging!
How do you generally respond in the following situations?
- Someone you care about and is important in your life - your partner, a close friend, your employer, your parent, your child - says something derogatory about you or something you don't agree with.
- Someone you care about complains about a situation, seeing themselves as a victim.
- Someone close to you makes irrational statements about themselves, about you, about others, or about a situation or event.
- Someone you care about verbally attacks you and/or blames you for something.
Do you jump in and correct them, explaining, defending, denying, arguing? What happens when you do?
Do you walk away, withdrawing in anger, judgment, and blame? How do you feel when you behave this way?
The chances are if you do either of these the interactions, the conflict escalates into more attack, blame, complaints, verbal abuse, and other irrational behavior, or both of you retreat into distant, angry silence, inwardly blaming and punishing each other for your own misery.
What might happen if you lovingly disengage, i.e. walk away with your heart open, with no anger or judgment, no rumination about how awful the other person is, praying for the person and singing your "happy song"? What might happen if you lovingly disengage and do an Inner Bonding process?
What might happen is that the other person is left with his or her own behavior to deal with rather than being able to further blame you. What might happen is that when the other person is no longer angry, blaming, complaining or attacking and comes back to re-connect with you, you are open and ready for connection.
This sounds simple, yet why is it so hard to do? Why is it so hard to lovingly disengage?
There are two major answers to this question:
- The wounded self believes that you can control how another person feels, thinks and acts - that you can control getting another person out of his or her intent to protect and into the intent to learn. The wounded self believes that, if you say or do the right thing, you can control the other person into opening up to you and seeing things your way.
- The wounded self is terrified of feeling the core feelings of loneliness and helplessness over others, believing that you cannot handle these feelings.
If you lovingly disengage, keeping your heart open to yourself and to the other person, you will feel the loneliness and heartache that is always there when someone you care about disconnects from themselves and you. And you will feel the helplessness that you will always feel when you fully accept that you cannot control the other person.
In order to be willing to feel these painful feelings you need to know exactly how to manage them. Actually, managing them as an adult is quite easy.
- Acknowledge the feelings, embracing them with deep compassion.
- Sit with the feelings, keeping them company for a few minutes, the way you would with a child who is hurting.
- Once your Inner Child feels heard and comforted, consciously release the feelings to God, asking for them to be replaced with love and peace.
The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes. While feelings of loneliness, heartache and helplessness over others were completely unmanageable as children, now they are easy to manage when you know how - and when you have a loving Adult who wants to take responsibility for your feelings.
Once you learn to manage your feelings of loneliness and helplessness over others, and once you accept your total lack of control over others feelings, thoughts and actions, you will find that you can easily disengage with love.
Try it! You will be deeply gratified by taking this loving action.
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Learn to care about yourself enough to be around others who are caring, and accept that you cannot make others care.
By Dr. Margaret Paul