A key problem with the ego is the editing experiences of emotional rejection. This can result in not hearing or seeing a problem, which in turn leads to lack of communication and the end of many relationships. Here is an exercise to help you respond more positively:
1. Sit down and close your eyes for a time. Have a pad of paper and pen nearby. Visualize the verbal fights and arguments you have had over the last six months or a year. Live through them. Note how you felt during the argument.
2. Now, in short phrases, write on the pad what each argument was about in terms of facts, not feelings.
3. Close your eyes. Run through each fight or argument again, but this time from the point of view of the person you fought against. Act his or her part, be that person. See yourself as the bad guy. What are you trying to say? How do you feel?
4. Open your eyes. Next to the arguments facts, write down the message you felt the other person was trying to get through to you.
5. Now, under the message, write down a list of behaviors (tone of voice, insulting language, gestures) that make you angry.
6. Make a positive statement about each behavior, such as: “I will not let [list the behavior] blind me to the message.”
7. Next time you are in an argument, remember these statements. Listen. Ignore the tones, insults, and gestures. What is the message being delivered? Often it is very different from the words. For example, your mate nagging you over a chore may really mean “I want attention” or harassing you about your weight issues may mean “I care about you.”
8. Respond to the message–and not the emotion–in a positive way. Do not criticize or say “yes, but. . .” or be defensive. See what happens!
Adapted from Clean Sweep, by Denny Sargent (Weiser Books, 2007). Copyright (c) 2007 by Denny Sargent> reprinted by permission of Weiser Books.
Adapted from Clean Sweep, by Denny Sargent (Weiser Books, 2007).