In most adventure sports, attempting a skill or maneuver “half ass” is the worst thing you can do. Example, biking around tight turns very slowly doesn’t go so well (and in fact, is how I last wrecked my bike falling onto rocks/into a tree). Gymnasts running to a vault have to sprint in order to gain the speed and power to execute their moves (yep I’ve wrecked half-assing that too). And with whitewater SUP you’ve got to dig into a rapid rather than let the current take you where it wants. The irony is that, especially when you’re a beginner new to these skills, that can be intimidating or downright scary.
This concept was on my mind the other day in regards to relationships. Whether platonic or romantic, relationships can be difficult. We all have our own communication styles and needs. Our preferences and distastes, our approach to problems and politics all vary. Especially in these times when our communities are dealing with everything from pandemics to climate change to population growth and development to personal crises. Things seem to have gotten much “muchier” over the past few years and many are living in fear and loss…financial and otherwise. Stress and anxiety is running high.
Without going into too much detail, I had reached a peak in stress the other day and right before bed was when it bubbled over. Nothing in romantic relationships are ever one individual’s “fault” but let’s just say I was being over the top. My boyfriend came home from a late night at work and I was in a mood. It quickly unraveled and as I was having my meltdown… and I won’t bore you with details, but to sum up, his reaction was…probably justly…”bitch you straight trippin’…go deal and leave me alone”. As justified as that might have been, it caused escalation in my tantrum and a feeling of being utterly alone and misunderstood. I couldn’t sleep, I tossed and turned, basically having a sleepless night which makes a person crazy. Side note, sometimes we know when we’re out of control but somehow can’t seem to reel it in (I’ve heard this same experience from friends and ironically, on my drive home I heard an interview on NPR, with a psychologist who said this is called a “hot state” experienced in stable humans when under duress). Here’s the interesting thing…. I was dreading the morning and the predictable argument and tension. What I experienced was entirely different. He “leaned in”. Instead of blaming and judging he comforted. He asked me how he can help and what I need. He gave me love rather than judgement. Like leaning into a sharp turn on a bike it smoothed my mood and rather than (metaphorically) tumbling ass over kettle it diffused me.
Let’s be clear–having the maturity to bury your pride, to listen and support someone when they’ve behaved poorly, isn’t always easy. But I’ve found this is almost always the approach that brings the best results. And not just with significant others. Whether a co-worker, family member, friend or stranger we all get scared. We all want to be heard and we all want to feel loved and respected. The easiest thing to do is ignore or blame, but next time you find tension with another human perhaps give it a try… lean in. You might find some incredible results and maybe when you behave badly…and you will because we are all fallible humans…someone will be that support to you.
Thanks for listening…see you out there on the frisky ripples.