Isn’t it funny how sometimes the most obvious things get overlooked?
I’ve been reminded since last fall, as I do some additional “mentor coaching” with bright individuals in the thick of their coach training, that so often we complicate what never needed to be complicated in the first place.
In my niche, “all things love, dating & intimacy”, you can imagine how many clients are working through some kind of reoccurring issue, sit in confusion around next steps and feel uncomfortably lacking in “relationship 101” skills that we were never taught. As we role play and work with real life scenarios so that my mentees can gain confidence and skill, the focus comes back over and over to “questioning” and the art of asking.
And as one mentee so powerfully stated when a light bulb went off this week, “Geez, Barb…it really is about not solving anything for our clients, is it? The more curious I remain, the more obvious the next powerful question is!”
I would add, that in relationships of all kinds, from friendships to intimate encounters, we too often don’t ask the next, most authentic, obvious question and instead allow the conversation to begin to stall or spiral down a rabbit hole.
Here are snippets of a few conversations I’ve had over the last month:
“So, Barb…I’m really serious that I can’t tolerate this continual venting from my husband every single night when he gets home from his toxic job. It goes on and on into the evening and while I used to feel sorry for him and listen, I just want to yell ‘shut up’ and put some kind of time limit on the griping!”
“OMG. Our sex life has become the most boring thing in the world. I can’t tell if my partner feels the same way or not, but I have to imagine she does. We just go through the motions right now to say we’ve had sex. It used to be great, so I have to believe that if I brought it up, she would be interested in spicing things up, too.”
And how about this one:
“You’ve got to help me figure this out, Barb. This guy I’m only casually dating keeps doing things a person would do if they were someone’s boyfriend. Every morning there’s a text, he never lets a day go by without contacting me and he assumes we’re making plans each week. I keep trying to be nice and while I appreciate the kindness, the beauty of being single is that I don’t have to be accountable to anyone right now! What do I do to get him to back off a bit? If he doesn’t, I’ll just end up never seeing him again.”
Ok, everyone…you can play Coach with me now. Are you ready? And the question is?
“DID YOU ASK?”
Keep going…this is fun, right? And the answer, more than likely is?
Almost there!...and your next, most obvious question is? (You’re getting good at this!)
And the truthful, gut-wrenching answer most people can finally share at this point in the conversation is?
“BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THE ANSWER.”
Oh, yeah. That.
There’s a very quiet, tender place in ourselves that isn’t sure if we’re ready to open the door to these important conversations. To the truthful answers we say we long for. To the work that would be necessary to change things up in a positive, new way.
Or to, God forbid, hear what we don’t want to hear, whether it’s true or not.
“Actually, I feel the same about all the endless bitching you do about your Mom and sister.”
“I feel so disconnected from you that I really don’t care if we ever have sex again.”
“I think you just can’t handle letting love in. I’m out of here.”
But you also might hear:
“I know. I get on a roll and can’t stop. I’m so sorry. Let’s make a pact that when we both need to vent about anything, we cap it at 15 minutes and then move on to something positive, Ok?”
“Thank God you brought this up. I was scared to because I thought you’d take it personally. I heard there’s a great book out there about jumpstarting your sex life. Let’s get it this weekend!”
“I really appreciate you letting me know. I’m excited to feel the kind of connection with you that I’ve been wanting and can see how I’ve been going too fast. It’s great that you told me what you need. It’s one of the qualities I really respect in you.”
Guess what, my friends?
Sitting on things in your relationships assures that nothing will change. It guarantees resentments will build and that assumptions will begin being made. And oh, the stories that begin to form when we don’t have the courage to tell ourselves the truth first, then speak up with kindness and boldly address what needs to addressed, head on.
If you’re here in this community, you’ve agreed to “revolutionize” your love!
All of it.
In every relationship that you have.
Let’s do this different. I’m counting on you!