It’s not about you, Dude! When your partner is talking about their feelings, it’s not about YOU! Even when your partner is sharing their feelings about you, it’s not about you! If you want a relationship that not only survives, but thrives, mastering this concept is a must!
Some examples? Husband approaches wife to talk about money. He’s worried about covering the bills this month. She launches into how she’s been doing a good job paying the bills, etc., etc. HE was talking about his worries about covering the bills and now they are talking about how good of a job SHE does paying the bills. She mistakenly assumed that the finger was pointed at her. A couple inexperienced at recognizing this shift in direction will spend the rest of the conversation, and maybe even the rest of the day, fighting a needless battle!
So how should this conversation have gone? He approaches wife with his worries. She doesn’t make it about her! She inquires further about why he’s so worried. He reveals that he feels like a failure because his commission is down this month. Wife can now be there for him and help him with his feelings vs. spending the rest of the day arguing!
What about if it is about you? This one is a lot harder, for sure. Wife complains because husband was distracted and disconnected on her birthday. He did a lot of things right, but the things she needed, eye contact and attention, he sort of botched. SHE shares her disappointment and HE gets defensive talking about how hard he tried and what he did right. Do you see the shift? She wasn’t talking about him, she was talking about her feelings. Unless they catch the shift, they will spend all of their time trying to get heard (a/k/a fighting). If he can just resist the urge to make it about himself, he will hear that he did a lot of things right, but what she needed more than anything on her birthday was connection with him. If he can hear that, future birthdays will rock for her (and probably for him, too!)
Done correctly, a couple can talk about anything! Past hurts, money, sex, and even affairs can be discussed and brought to resolve. Whatever your partner is bringing up is more about their wounds and issues than it is about you, anyway! When you make it about you, your partner loses an opportunity to learn and grow in their experiences.
This skill is not just for couples, either. Try using it on your kids, your co-workers, your friends. It is amazing how it works! People that truly master this skill actually communicate! Remember, just because someone has a feeling, or even a feeling about you, don’t make it about you. If you can resist the temptation to make it about yourself, you just might discover a rich and wonderful intimacy with those around you!