Can you guess the one simple habit that is dousing the flames of desire with your partner?
When you are trying to stoke the fire of warmth and connection, there is one thing that will always act like a bucket of ice water and leave everyone feeling cold, icy and miserable…. And we all do it… criticism.
While we may have convinced ourselves that by pointing out what is wrong, it will get us what we want. It never does. This is a very young part of ourselves that believes this is a valid strategy.
Looking from a broader perspective, when people point out your flaws, shortcomings, and what you are doing wrong, do you feel motivated to shift and change it?
No, it triggers a defensive response to which we generally react instead of respond. It leaves you feeling hurt, incompetent and resentful. This starts, or adds to, a negative spiral that drives an ever-widening wedge between us.
Behind every criticism and complaint is a request that is not being expressed cleanly or clearly.
There is something that we want; like ‘would you please vacuum the front entrance?’, but there is also part of us that wants to avoid the vulnerability of asking, or feels like we don’t have the right to ask for whatever reason…
Asking IS vulnerable, your partner might say no, and you open yourself to the sting of rejection or feelings of abandonment, loneliness or unworthiness. So we bypass those feelings, and start to build a case of why we should have what we want without having to ask. In fact we can do such a good job of gathering evidence that it shifts us completely from vulnerability, to feeling entitled to demand what we want.
So instead of cleanly or clearly asking, we mask it behind a complaint or criticism… you never vacuum… you always track your dirty shoes in from outside and leave a huge mess that you never clean up.
You might very well be right, but it will not get you what you want.
Only when we are willing to look at what do you really want? Do you want to enlist the help of your partner, or is there part of you that unconsciously wants to punish them?
The next time that you feel find yourself wanting to criticize your partner…. Pause… take a few deep cleaning breaths… feel into the hidden request, and just try vulnerably asking. It may take a while to shrink that wedge, but it’s so worth it to stop throwing the ice water, and start stoking the fire instead. <3