I was working in my garden this morning and found myself struggling with pulling my garden hose from the hose box. As I struggled I began thinking about what we often do when we are stuck trying to solve a problem in our relationships and keep spinning our wheels getting really nowhere.
Let me tell you my lesson learned from grappling with the garden hose. So I set out to water my garden, which is in desperate need of watering and some TLC. I find my garden is a place I can go to when I want some inspiration; however, I was unable to unwind my hose from the box and found that less than inspiring.
I pulled the hose, but it didn't work. So I tried to unwind it from the inside, still nothing. I stood on the box (I know you're not supposed to do that, but I was getting pretty desperate), still no luck. At this point the hose in the box is so jammed I can't get to the attachment to unscrew it. I'm fairly hot, my mood is not so pleasant, my back is aching and I'm thinking about adding the hose task to the "honey do" list.
I stop for few minutes and really think what I want to do. I think about my alternatives. Maybe getting the watering can and going about watering, but that would take a long time. I think about the outcome. If I don't water today some of my plants will shrivel up and die in the heat. I think about waiting for my husband to solve the problem. I'll have to let go of when it will be done, which means my plants may fry. OK, I make a decision I will water today; I am committed to keeping my plants alive. I decide to try tackling the hose one more time before I get the watering can. Since using force doesn't work, and the hose is too tangled in the box, I decide I must try a different route. I found the attachment that links the hose to the outside of the box unscrew it and slowly and gently begin to unravel the hose.
This menial task that took me almost thirty minutes got me thinking about how we approach problems in our relationships. I started to think about the cycle that we default into when problems arise with others in our lives. Often someone we love will say or do something that triggers us. When this happens we may launch into the cycle of being reactive, this can show up as passive/resistant behavior or aggressive/angry behavior. So someone will do or say something that will push your buttons and all of a sudden you are reacting without thinking about what it is that you want and what you need to do to covey what you want.
My struggle with the hose annoyed me and I was reacting by pulling and shoving the hose. It didn't work; it didn't get me what I wanted. So by stopping and thinking about what I wanted, what are my alternatives, what's my desired outcome, and what I am committed to, I found a way to solve the problem. If in your relationships you default to being reactive, try stopping and thinking about what is you want (to be heard, to be understood, to have someone do something) what are your alternatives (wait until you cool down before you respond, ask for something, find a different way to share what you are feeling), what is your desired outcome (to have a closer relationship where there is trust and mutual respect) and what are you committed to (wanting better relationships, making changes in the way you react to others)? Sometimes it's really hard to break out of a pattern of reactivity. Sometimes having someone else help you unravel your proverbial hose in a frustrating and overwhelming situation makes the process of change easier. We would be happy to help you and your family members find new creative ways to improve your communication and build happier relationships. If you'd like help contact us firstname.lastname@example.org!