THE Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate (pdf) by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.
Back to the Sandbox
I recently heard a Story. Two little kids are playing together in a sandbox in the park with their pails and shovels. Suddenly a huge fight breaks out, and one of them runs away, screaming. “I hate you! I hate you!” In no time at all they’re back in the sandbox, playing together as if nothing has happened.
Two adults observe the interaction from a nearby bench. “Did you see that?” one comments in admiration. “I low do children do that? They were enemies five minutes ago.”
“It’s simple”, the other replies, “They choose happiness over righteousness.”
Grown-ups rarely make such a choice. We have a terrible time stepping aside from our anger, bitterness, and hurt. We know that life is short, hut damn it, we’re not getting hack in that sandbox until that other person agrees to having started it—and admits to being wrong.
Our need to balance the scales of justice is so strong that we lock ourselves into negativity at the expense of happiness and well-being. A great deal of suffering could be avoided if we could be more like those kids. We could lighten up and let things go. I feel calmed and relieved when my husband knocks at my study door in the middle of a fight, puts his arms around me. and says. “I love you. This is stupid. Let’s just drop it.” Like two kids in the sandbox, we’re suddenly light and playful again.
Of course, adult life is not always so simple. Some issues need to be revisited—not dropped—and talk is essential to this process. We need words to begin to heal betrayals, inequalities, and ruptured connections.
Our need for language, conversation, and definition goes beyond the wish to put things right. Through words we come to know the other person—and to be known. This knowing is at the heart of our deepest longings for intimacy and connection with others. How relationships unfold with the most important people in our lives depends on courage and clarity in finding voice. This is equally true for our relationship with our self. Even when we are not being heard, we may still need to know the sound of our own voice saying out loud what we really think.
Our challenge as adults is to develop a strong voice that is uniquely our own. a voice that reflects our deepest values and convictions. Once we are comfortable within that voice, we can bring it to our most important relationships. We can choose to move to the center of a difficult conversion—or we can let it go. We can speak—or decide not to. Whatever we choose, we can head back to the sandbox with clarity, wisdom, and intention. By doing so, we can strengthen the self and our connections, and have the best chance of achieving happiness during our time with each other.
HARRIET LERNER. PH.D., is one of our nation’s most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist. she is the author of The Dance of Anger and many other bestselling hooks. She is also, with her sister, an awardwinning children’s book writer. She and her husband live in Kansas and have two sons.
PROLOGUE: Back to the Sandbox
- CHAPTER 1 Finding Your Voice
- CHAPTER 2 Voice Lessons from My Father
- CHAPTER 3 Our First Family: Where We Learned (Not) to Speak
- CHAPTER 4 Should You Share Vulnerability?
- CHAPTER 5 In Praise of Pretending
- CHAPTER 6 Putting Our Parents in the Hot Seat
- CHAPTER 7 Love Can Make You Stupid
- CHAPTER 8 Marriage: Where’s Your Bottom Line?
- CHAPTER 9 “I Can’t Live with This!” Voicing the Ultimate in Marriage
- CHAPTER 10 Warming Things Up
- CHAPTER 11 Silent Men/Angry Women
- CHAPTER 12 Criticism Is Hard to Take
- CHAPTER 13 An Apology? Don’t Hold Your Breath
- CHAPTER 14 Complaining and Negativity: When You Can’t Listen Another Minute
- CHAPTER 15 The Sounds of Silence: Finding a Voice When You’re Rejected and Cut Off
EPILOGUE: To Thine Own Self Be True
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
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Free download ebook THE Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.