The Inviting Shift Podcast

S2 Episode 19: The Art of Nurturing and Supportive Relationships

November 07, 2023 Christina Smith Season 2 Episode 19
The Inviting Shift Podcast
S2 Episode 19: The Art of Nurturing and Supportive Relationships
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine transforming your relationships into powerful tools for personal growth. That's exactly what we're going to do in this episode, where we unveil the art of nurturing and supporting relationships, particularly in midlife. We begin our journey by shedding light on how to switch from a judgment-based approach to a data-based one when handling conflicts. We also share 10 pivotal guidelines that will help you build and maintain flourishing relationships, and we delve into the power of connection and the significance of getting your needs met.

Do you find conflict resolution challenging? Well, we've got you covered! This episode is all about mastering the skill of effective communication in resolving conflicts. We'll show you how to truly listen, see things from the other person's perspective, and take ownership of your own emotions. We also discuss the importance of establishing boundaries and crafting resolutions that are mutually beneficial. 

In the final part of our episode, we focus on owning our emotions and setting boundaries. We explore the subtle difference between boundaries and requests, and how recognizing our own feelings can lead to more nurturing and supportive relationships. We teach you how to use 'I' statements for effective and honest communication. By the end of this episode, you'll find yourself better equipped to handle brave and vulnerable conversations, manage relationships, and approach conflict in a way that is both respectful and honest. Join us on this transformative journey and turn your relationships into a source of personal growth and fulfillment.

Join us in the Modern Midlife Mentorship.

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Christina Smith:

Hey, welcome back shifters. I'm Christina, your host, and this week I really want to talk about relationships, and the relationships I want to talk about are any kind of relationships. They can be relationships with family, relationships with friends, with your partner, whatever it is. These are some really great tools I'm going to share with you today in order to have the nurturing and supportive relationships that we want. I want to tell you that I did not grow up with these skills. These were skills that I had at home over time, because I had to find more of my own power. In relationships. I used to sit like a victim, going, oh, they're doing this, they're doing that, they're saying this, they're doing that, and I would just hope that they changed. Or I would try to, as my first marriage, try to shame them into changing. The same way, I would change my own behavior and I would try to control them, instead of controlling what is really important, which is me and what I expect in my perspective and what I own. We're going to talk about today, about relationships that are nurturing and supportive, because it's one of the biggest questions I get about having friends in midlife, having a better relationship in midlife, maybe after the kids and all the things and the jobs and the careers. You've kind of grown apart. How do we get that nurturing and supportive part of our relationships back? The one thing I want you to know that relationships are for us. They are a personal growth tool. This has been so important. The relationships I've had in the last 15 years have taught me a lot about myself, not necessarily about how people are or generalizing, but what is it that I am learning about myself by being in relationship? Those are going to be some of the tools that we're going to share today, because when I learn more about myself, I know how to express myself better. I know how to nurture and support other people. I know how to build boundaries so that I am creating nurturing, supporting relationships. What I want you to know about relationships whether it's friends, partners, family none of them are perfect. I know that we have these fairy tale dreams of we're going to meet our prince charming and magic. Magic is going to happen and happily ever after. What Disney failed to tell you is how they actually build and maintain that relationship over the long haul, not just over this. Happily ever after, happily ever after doesn't work that way, even with friendships. Friendships have phases that they go through, and so there's going to be some times where we are connected more than others. That's okay. But the tools I'm going to share with you today I have these 10 guidelines, or encouraged behaviors for nurturing and supportive relationships, and I want you to remember of course we can't change the other person and often we think it's the other person who needs to change. We're going to discuss that. But a lot can change in our relationships because if I change the way that I'm reacting to you, you then have to change how you're reacting to me. If I make a boundary and I say, hey, this doesn't feel safe for me, I'm going to walk away. We can't still have this conflict. It can't just keep going back the same cycle of yelling at each other or whatever happens. That can't stay the same. So when one person changes in relationship, it does change the relationship for better or worse. So let's go over these 10 encouraged behaviors I have. The first one that I want us to remember is even though we don't like being in conflict, conflict happens. We're different people. We have different experiences. We're going to experience things in a different way. What I think is a great intention for you, you might take negatively or that I'm insulting you, and so we have to remember that in conflict, we are on the same side, and this is very different than our culture. Our culture is very competitive. I have to be right, you have to be right. One of those has to happen, but that's. We're not on the opposite side from this person, from this relationship. What is on the other side is the conflict Me and my relationship, me and my friend, my partner, my family member. We're on the same side. We want to figure this out so that we can be in connection. What's on the other side is the conflict, and so when we think about it that way, we start approaching the conflict and taking apart the conflict instead of approaching and taking apart the other person, which isn't going to be helpful in conflict. So the first thing that I really want us to bring into our every cell of our skin is that when I'm in conflict with another person, the conflict is on the other side. That person is next to me, and we're going to try to figure this out so that we can both get our needs met. That's the important thing, right? The important thing is that we are in connection. That's the intention of the conflict, of getting through the conflict, is that we wanna be connected, and so the conflict is on the other side, and then we can start approaching it more data-based rather than judgment-based, because when there's somebody else on the other side, ooh, we wanna throw judgments, we wanna think about the judgments they might be giving us, and all of that is breaking down our relationship, not building it. The second one is and I'm sure you've heard this before, but of course I have to repeat it because it's so, so, so important is that we are listening to understand the other person. And when we're in a conflict, our ego comes up and all of a sudden they're telling us something and our brain's going oh well, I know what I'm gonna say, I'm gonna say this and what about that, and what about this? Right, we don't wanna do that. Let's take a moment, take a breath, bring the emotional level down and really try to talk it out by listening, listen, listen, listen, ask good questions and listen right, because, again, we're not fighting this person. We're listening so that we can understand the conflict deeper, because the more we can understand the conflict, the more we can unravel it and create solutions. So, listening to understand. I even heard people say listen more than you talk, listen more than you think about talking. Right, so listening for the point of understanding, not for responding. The third tool I wanna talk about today is to understand from their perspective, not yours. Again, we all have experiences and wounds and all kinds of triggers and stories we tell ourselves. Those are all ours, those are all ours. So we wanna understand from their experiences, from their wounds, from their understanding where they're coming from, so that we don't make assumptions, because assumptions are probably one of the major reasons for conflict in the first place. And so when we understand from their perspective, it's gonna look a little different. Our behaviors, our reactions may look different than what we think they do on our side. The fourth one is if you're holding a grudge, talk it out. And this one is not easy if you are a people pleaser, because if you're a people pleaser you'll just go oh, I can deal with that, that's no problem. I don't wanna bring it up, don't wanna have a conflict or a conversation about it. I really just wanna get past it, sweep it under the rug. But what happens with that is we start sweeping a lot under the rug, we keep ignoring these little things, these little things, these little things, and either not doing the work on it ourselves or not bringing it to the relationship to discuss is a big struggle. And I'm gonna talk about some more tools, about how we have these conversations. Those are like the next four skills, right? So I just want you to really sit with it, like, is this something that you need to bring up? Because in 10 years, if this habit, this action, this way of talking to you has escalated, it like where do we stop it? And what I've found is, when I start having a little bit of a problem, that's the best time to bring it up. It doesn't mean that we're gonna be able to change them. We're gonna talk about that to either do the work within ourselves and then bring out anything that we might need to bring out in conversation. It might be by the time we do our own work on it that we realize it's really us and our own judgments and there's really nothing that they can do about it to change it. It's just the way that we need to see it from a different perspective or shift the way that we are showing up so that we get more of what we want. The next one is ownership, and this one is really challenging. In fact, I used to have a whole workshop about whose problem is it anyway, and that workshop is actually within the Confident, connected and Impactful Coaching Program. It's a whole session on whose problem is it? Because this is something that women used to bring to me all the time, like, oh, I'm having this problem with my husband or my friend or whatever, and I don't know if I'm doing something wrong. If they're doing something wrong, who needs to change their behavior in this? I don't even know, like, whose problem is this? I feel like it's his problem, but I'm the one getting angry. Well, if you're the one getting angry or some kind of emotional trigger, you are the one with the problem. The other person is probably off, not even knowing that this is a problem or at least understanding the degree to which it is a problem for you. So, starting to pull that apart, who's having the emotional impact here? If I'm getting angry, if I'm getting furious, if I'm feeling shame, if I'm feeling fear, that's all about me and I have to start pulling that apart and seeing where am I disempowering myself. Right, where am I disempowering myself? I do want to excuse extreme abusive relationships from this. That's a whole different psychology. These are for our regular, everyday kind of relationships. But we do want to look at you know. If I'm the one feeling fear, what is it that's going on for me? Is there something I need to ask from you? Is it something a conversation we need to have? Am I just fearful because I'm not creating good boundaries for myself, that I haven't created non-negotiables for my relationship, which can be really important understanding what I am and am not going to deal with in a relationship Again, whether that's a partner, friendship or a family member, but ownership and understanding. How am I contributing to this? And a lot of times it's we're just angry because we have to create boundaries and we don't want to. We just want that other person to show up how we expect them to, so that we don't have to change anything, and that's very disempowering. That's a very much a wounded child kind of energy where I just want you to fix what's going on and I'm not really going to take part in it. And even if the other person has a serious problem let's say addiction or mental health we can still create boundaries. In fact, that's what they're made for. It's for us to create boundaries. We're going to talk about boundaries in a second, but before we go there, if we are going to have a conversation with someone, let's just say a conversation. I want to explain to you what's happening for me. Let me repeat that A conversation starts with I. I want to share with you what's going on with me, not what you're doing, not what you're saying, not how I perceive that you're wrong. Those are not ways to have a conversation. What we want to advocate for is our own needs and wants. Wow, when you say this, I start telling myself all kinds of stories about myself, about not being good enough or being too much, or we can even get more general than that. When people tell me this, I start telling myself all kinds of stories. I know that that's my problem, that's part of my wounds from my past, that's my experience and that's what happens for me. I statements as much as possible. This is about me, how I feel, what I'm willing to deal with and what I'm not willing to deal with. We have to be really clear about that within ourselves. Before we have that conversation with someone, I would love you to journal it down and use all I statements and see how it turns out, because it's going to feel a little bit different when we're in that wounded child having conflict. We automatically want to blame and shame everyone else because we're not really empowered from that tiny part of ourselves. We need to use a more adult archetype within ourselves to get to the point where this is what's not working for me. This is not what's not working for me. If I can get that out, here's what I would like. You may not get what you want, but it's bringing up things that bother us from a very honest this is what happens for me kind of situation, so important. This is what happens for me, because then we're getting vulnerable. If we come right out the door with the accusations, who wants to respond to a bunch of accusations? No one. We get defensive, our ego gets up and all of a sudden, all we want to do is like compete and fight, and that's losing that first rule of nurturing and supportive relationships that we went over, which is we are not on the opposite sides, we are together and the problem is on the other side. And so all I'm doing is speaking from my side. What's happening for me, what I'm experiencing, what's going on, and I want to go over the fact that the other person is not making you, they're not making you angry, they're not making you frustrated, they're not making you sad, they're not making you fearful, they're not making you feel shame. That's all what's going on within ourselves. This is the hardest point I ever had to get through with relationships, and having nurturing and supportive ones is that I have to take ownership for what is mine, and what is mine are my feelings and the reason those feelings are coming up. Let's just say it may not bother another person what you just said to me, but to me it really bothers me, and the reason is because I have all of these experiences. I have all of these wounds, all of these old triggers, all of these ego struggles right, all these emotional stories that I tell myself. That's all mine. That's all mine. I could easily ignore what you just said or, you know, brush it off, if I didn't have all of those triggers and experiences. So when I say that relationships are personal growth, this is the part when we start owning what's ours our wounds, our triggers, our old experiences that we've gathered up to tell ourselves that we're not enough or too much. That's all me. That's mine to own. You can't make me feel anyway. You can say something and then my brain can make up stories from the past and fill in gaps and make assumptions about why it is that you're doing or saying whatever you're doing. But those are just. That's not data, that's just me being assumptive that if you're in a bad mood it must be about me. It could have nothing to do with me. But the reason I'm getting triggered is because of all this stuff that I have in my backpack that I've been walking around with all the time. So we want to really look at that. The other person isn't making you, but what we can learn from that is coming out with those eye statements that, wow, I'm getting really angry when he says that. Why? Why am I getting really angry when he says that? And understanding what I believe the implications of that statement was right, rather than you know, asking the other person clearly, hey, I'm not understanding what was the intent behind that. How are you hoping I would react to that and then being able to have that conversation? Because here's what's happening for me and owning it for ourselves. These are my wounds, my stories. I'm the one torturing myself. It's a stories that create all that uncomfortable emotions. I don't call them negative, I call them uncomfortable. It's the stories that I'm telling myself in my head about what you're doing and saying that is actually creating that. Rather than saying I don't believe you, that's not what I do, we're standing up for ourselves or even owning it and saying, yeah, sometimes I show up like a jerk and the fact that you just pointed out, oh, I could feel that emotion coming on. I'm starting to feel a little shame. But it's not you that's making me feel shame. It's the stories I'm telling myself about what you said. It's very, very hard. So if you have any questions about this or you're going through something hard, I'd really love you to reach out and let's have a conversation about what is yours and what is not yours. Okay, the next thing I want to talk about is this huge difference between boundaries and requests. Okay, so let's start with boundaries, because I think it'll make requests a lot clearer later. But boundaries often people think that boundaries are like I don't like you smoking, so I don't want you to smoke around me. Well, that's a request. A boundary is what I'm gonna do for me to keep me safe. So if I don't like smoking or I'm allergic to cigarette smoke. When I see you light up, I'm gonna walk away. That's what I'm gonna do, right? It's not making the other person change anything. We don't have control of their actions for what they say. We can simply make a boundary for ourselves, and I would say, 80% of the time, that's all we need to do. The reason we don't do it is because we don't like to, we don't want to do the work. If the other person would just show up the way that we expect them to, the right way right, according to us, the right way, meaning our way then I wouldn't have to put up boundaries. Well, good luck on that. We're all human beings. We tramps over each other's boundaries because we don't really know where other people's boundaries are. I probably have boundaries where you don't, and vice versa. So boundaries are about me. It's what I'm going to do to keep myself safe in this situation. Right? It might be that if we're gonna raise our voices or call names call each other names then we're gonna end the argument until we've cooled down and we can talk with a clearer point of view in a regular conversation, right? So it might be something like that, but it's not controlling the other person because we can't do that. What we can do and I believe this is number eight what we can do is make a request, and a request can be vulnerable because again, we're coming from the I statements. When we had that conversation the other day, man, I was feeling here's what happened for me, here's the triggers and the stories that came up for me. And what I really love is, if we didn't call each other names when we got in arguments, that if we didn't raise our voices when we get in arguments, that's a request. Can we agree to not go to these parts? Can we agree on that? Can you try to commit to that? Because we know even we break our own commitments sometimes. So can we try to commit to this as a way of being? That's a request and it takes vulnerability. Normally people pleasers we want to sweep that right under the rug and go. I can just get over it. I can just get over it. But in order to have really nurturing supportive relationships, this is the kind of information we want to share. We want to share vulnerable stuff because it helps us get more connected and any conflict that I've ever seen in a good relationship often ends up making that relationship so much stronger, having these hard conversations, making these hard requests, it actually can create more connection within us, because we're being vulnerable. We are showing the other person that I really want to be in connection with you instead of just ghosting you, right? Because that's the new thing is that if I have a problem with you, I'll just go find another friend, another partner, another whatever, and so we don't keep working through these things. But these are the true skills of relationships and I can't imagine that there's many really long connected, loving friendships or partnerships that don't go through these conflicts and sometimes have to make requests. So the other thing with requests is you may not get what you want. Even if the other person could promise that or wants to promise that, it doesn't mean that they're able. So there's many reasons why people can't fulfill our requests. One of them could be they don't want to. Another one might be they don't feel like they need to change the way that they are, and one of them is that they may not be capable. My husband's got a terrible memory. He's constantly forgetting things. We could have just discussed an hour ago what we were doing tonight for dinner and in another hour he'll ask me again and this stuff can really irritate me, right, it can really irritate me that it's like I'm all ready to go out to dinner and he's like what's going on? I'm making dinner and I'm like I thought we just said right, and so I used to get really frustrated. Well, I could request that he remember more stuff, but it's not going to happen. We've tried it many times. There are some things I can do to help him remember things, but I can't force him to remember, just like I couldn't force myself to run a four-minute mile. Okay, it's just not going to happen in my life. And so we can only expect that they can say yes to the things that they are capable and willing to commit to. And it still may not be perfect, so we may not always get what we want, but then what we do is we take care of ourselves, we create those boundaries. Well, great, then what? Here's the thing If we say that we're going to go to dinner with Joneses at 6 pm, I'm going to be ready at 6 pm. If he's not ready at 6 pm, I'll go to the restaurant. He can meet me there, right? That's a boundary I can make for myself. If I really hate being late. I can also say I'm going to try to help him remember by telling him 20 minutes in advance. But that's for me, right? Some people are like I don't want to care, take the other person, then don't. But one of the ways that I know my husband's going to remember is if I tell him 15 to 20 minutes in advance. That's about the expanse of his memory sometimes, and so if I make practical boundaries like that for myself, that I'm going to, hey, I'm going to remind him once a day. That's for me. So I feel comfortable. Just so we're clear I'm not doing that for him, I'm not caretaking him, I don't have to do it. It's not something I promised. So, knowing the difference between requests and boundaries, we always can make boundaries, we always can make requests, but with requests we may not get what we want. So sometimes, doing the work within ourselves to be like, well, what is it that I actually need out of the situation? How can I get that? How can I make a boundary so that I can ensure that I am getting what I need? Okay, two more. One of them is that I want you to start celebrating each other Something so silly when I was little is that women or girls were discouraged from boasting or showing off or celebrating their good stuff, because what if their friends were not having the same luck? What if their friends didn't have anything to celebrate? I think that's BS. I think that when we give ourselves a chance to celebrate ourselves and others, we're modeling it for other people. We're modeling how to be really happy for somebody. Compersion is a term that I get happy when you're happy, right, that's like a true love is that when something good is going on for you, even if it's not going on for me, I feel good about it. I feel happy for your happy, and so celebrating each other a lot, I think is so important. The last one I want to talk about is have the conversation. You would be surprised how many times that we choose not to have that conversation and then what happens is either we distance ourselves from that person with fewer calls or fewer connections, or we do this other thing where we just start having a generic relationship with them, not really nurturing or supporting, kind of just dealing with each other because I have so many judgments about you and I haven't talked about them and what they do for me. Right, we're not talking about our judgments of them. But what's behind that judgment? Usually behind that judgment is they're not doing it the way that I wanted it. I'm not getting what I want because I haven't asked for what I want. You know what I mean, those kinds of things. And so when we get into midlife, I hope that we can just let go of ghosting, because even if you don't want to continue a relationship with this person partner, friend or family it's still the best to get it out in the air. We honor our relationships by being honest with them. Hey look, I can't really be friends with you anymore. I'm doing all this personal growth work and you always seem so negative and every time I bring up something exciting about me, you just poop all over it. So that may not be a relationship that you want to have, but it's always good to practice those hard conversations because you know what. Your friend or your husband may not even know that he's doing it, they're doing it right. They may think everything's fine, and then all of a sudden you're gone. And of course you can do that if you want. There's no rule against it other than my encouraged behaviors. But I think even if the relationship doesn't work out. It'll help you practice having those very vulnerable conversations, having those really soft conversations, using those eye statements, making requests if you need to but boundaries when you have to right. So relationships are not Disney fairy tale stories, unfortunately, and they're even more beautiful than that. Every time I've had a conflict with my husband, we have worked through it and you know what happens is I trust him more. I know that if we have another conflict he's not going to get up and leave. I trust him to have the conversations, the really hard, authentic, vulnerable conversations with me and because of that I trust that he's going to be here. I trust that he doesn't have ill intentions for me, because all of the times in the past I thought he had ill intentions. We talked it out, I got to see it from his perspective and I was like I was making some assumptions about your behavior or your words and that's not really where you were coming from. And I think so many relationships we skip this step and we don't have that vulnerable conversation, we don't seek to understand what's going on for the other person and we have completely different perspectives over what's going on where, if we just worked it out, we could then approach the problem together rather than against each other, and when we can do that, I can speak my needs in once, you can speak your needs in once and we can decide how it is that we can be in connection with each other and get our needs met. It's so important. I hope that you'll try some of these out. I hope that you'll have a brave conversation this week. If you do reach out, I'd love to hear about it and hear how it goes. I'd love to chat you up and figure out how you can approach these harder conversations. Let's work it out so you feel really good and confident about having these really sensitive, vulnerable conversations. I hope this has been helpful. I hope you have a great week and I'll talk to you all later.

Nurturing and Supportive Relationships
Effective Communication in Conflict Resolution
Owning Our Emotions and Setting Boundaries
Boundaries, Requests, and Celebrating in Relationships
Encouraging Brave and Vulnerable Conversations