Breaking emotional stalemates

Emotional baggage often creates a standoff with others. "They don't want to go where we're coming from and we don't want to go to where they're at". These emotional stalemates appear to be irreconcilable when the participants do not have matching luggage. Neither side wants to give in or give up their own stance. Both sides are emotionally invested in their status quo.

Taking a closer look at the stalemate, we can observe how each side is coming from a very different place. The baggage-laden place feels powerless, helpless, needy and insecure. It's seeking collusion and commiseration to alleviate anxieties about being abandoned, unacceptable or the only one with the problem. It asks the other side to "feel my pain", "get where I'm coming from" or "join my pity party".

The opposite place feels confident, productive and powerful. It's seeking solutions to problems, progress that's readily available and actions to stop acting stuck. It's feeding its confidence, productivity and power to make progress and solve problems. It asks the insecure side to "stop moping around" or "feel better about yourself by getting something accomplished".

To go from powerless to productive creates a nightmare experience for anyone burdened by emotional baggage. Their worst fears are coming true. It proves they are abandoned, unacceptable or the only one with the dreadful problem. There's no escaping the evidence of their being deviant, defective and deficient. Their insecurities get magnified and self-confidence becomes ever more elusive. The chronic stalemate seems preferable to making a unilateral concession to the the productive, powerful and confident opposition.

Stalemates like these get broken by seeing them the way I've just described them. When participants can see the stalemate from the sidelines, they can disrupt their own reactions inside the vicious cycle. Each can see from above or afar what they are doing to themselves, selfishly asking of the others and contributing to mutual misunderstandings. With this new perspective, both sides can get to a better place. The underlying anxieties and nightmare experiences get alleviated. The baggage-laden assumptions get disputed and the chronic reactions get disrupted. Instead of forcing oneself to become productive or to collude with the misery, both become much more understanding of the assemblage of interests. The desired outcomes of confidence, power and productivity emerge from the collaborative understanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment