Posts Tagged ‘Dissociation’

Resolving Relationship Issues: Fit into the Other’s Shoes

If you’re like most other humans – not living in isolation – you’re definitely involved in a wide array of relationships. And you’re lucky if these were enriching to your life and provide you with the necessary support to combat life’s hardships. Unfortunately, in many, you’re very likely to encounter bumps along the road to have these maintained. And sooner or later you may find yourself in attempts to weather all sorts of storms. Conflict, tension, frustration, and serious misunderstandings can result between parent and child, couples, siblings, friends, and colleagues at work. There’s an inevitable break-up with those you find yourself continuously struggling with. Some people are not so easily dispensable though. You realize that there are grave consequences for cutting all ties; and eventually feel you’re stuck with for life. You attempt different ways to reconcile; succeeding at times and maybe failing at others. And you keep trying……till it sometimes completely drains you. Sounds familiar?

There are few things that you need to keep in mind if you wanted to sustain indispensible relationships (you know…, those that can do you more harm than good if you lose):   

  1. Keep the channels of effective communication open. Even if you were given the “deaf ear” or the “cold shoulder”, each person has a key. Find it to unlock the silence. Talk about what makes them nicely “tick” and then actively listen to what is said (and left unsaid). Approach conversations in a positive way. This reduces the other party’s defensiveness and, in turn, allows you to be listened to just the same.
  2. The luggage we carry on our life journeys makes each of us perceive or interpret things differently. No wonder we vary in degrees. These differences naturally breed conflict. In relationships, it’s best to keep the focus on your similarities, common values, and interests. Doing otherwise would widen any existing gap further. Nobody is expected to share exactly your same thoughts, beliefs, needs, or priorities. Find where you both meet and take it from there.
  3. It’s not about keeping record of win-lose battles. Believe that you and the other party are on the same side of the fence. Avoid the common assumption of being antagonists fighting over power. Even if the other party still holds that as true, make it appear they have it. You’re the one in control if you have the right attitude and approach. Where’s the common cause? Find it; and make it a competition to reach a win-win solution that is mutually agreeable. Shift your mindset from having a combative to a cooperative relationship.
  4. Ask to work on problems together handling each at a time. There’s no “one” way to work things out. With the other party, expand on the possibilities, solutions, and the consequences of each. Problem solving situations are opportunities in disguise to make your relationships stronger. With the right attitude, you can use these constructively to strengthen your ties.
  5. Avoid the focus on the other person’s failings. Always consider their assets, qualities, and good attributes. Mention these during your conflict resolution attempts. It’s no use to open the file of past misdemeanors on every occasion. It only flames relational discord. The best thing about the past is that it is gone. Stay focused on what you can do now and in the future.
  6. Choose the right time to discuss any arising issue. If you’re angry, wait for your anger to subside a little. We all know that being negatively charged with emotions can lead to irreparable rifts. If the other party is in a rush (e.g. leaving to work), postpone discussion to a more appropriate time. Careful, as well, to the choice of place (alone with the other party as opposed to being in a crowd). Timing can make all the difference. If you leave things to snowball, it would be difficult to rectify an evolved pattern of grudges piling up one on top of another. Do I need to mention the consequences of bottling up? Naaah…, we all must have a taste of that obvious explosion somehow.

 When relationships become strained and conflict ridden, they become an additional source of hardship to overcome. The best thing you can do is to equip yourself with the skill of conflict resolution; and practice navigating your way through proper communication. Who wouldn’t like to live harmoniously with cherished others? Consider the following technique which you can use to positively approach conflicts. It requires you to dissociate and take on different perspectives around the issue you want to resolve. It’s more like a “role play” game (Yeah, it really helps to laugh and play when you have serious issues to take care of 🙂 ). It gets you in a clearer mindset to head on disagreements the right way especially if you’re turmoiling inside.

 Let’s do this exercise together. Think of an issue you want to resolve. Alone in a spacious area, choose 3 different locations that are more or less close to each other. Note that you’ll be physically standing on each of these and will be assuming different roles or positions.

 –       First position: That’s fully you! Think of the situation. What are you feeling now and what’s your attitude about the other person? Fully associate with that role (i.e. mentally travel in time scanning different episodes of your interactions and recalling things you’ve seen, heard, and felt). This is your baseline for resolution. When you’re done, blank the pictures in your mind and physically shake that role off. Move, next, to position 2 (usually facing the first position as if you’ll be conversing with the first role).

 –       Second position: That’s them! This is when you’ll assume the role of the other party. In your mind, imagine you’re fully them. In other words, be in their shoes, wearing their clothes, speaking as they do, and thinking exactly the way they would. Now is the time to practice “empathy”. Carry whatever degree of emotional baggage and experiences they may have had on their shoulders. Look at the person sitting in “position 1” (the original you). What’s their attitude towards you and what do they want? How are they talking to you? Get into their mind set. Why are they behaving, thinking, and feeling the way they do? Don’t forget to consider their good qualities here. Take as much time as you need. When you’re done, shake it all off like you did the first time; and go stand in position three facing the first two.

 –       Third position: That’s the role of a wise observer! Now in this spot assume you are a complete stranger to both as if you were a spectator of a movie. Your role here is that of a detached advisor who will objectively give an opinion about what’s going on between the two. Dissociated enough from the situation now, be as objective as you can. What’s going on out there? Generate solutions that are mutually satisfactory. Knowing that you cannot tell the other party (the one in position 2) what they are to do, advise the one in the first position (the real you) of how to better handle the situation. What resources does that person need to handle it right? What was missing in all interactions? It could be more confidence, empathy, better communication skills, etc…. Take your time to discover these.

 When you identify the needed resources, and still in that position, remember a time when you actually did have what was missing. Fully re-live those memories mentally one by one. See? You have these already and you can bring them back if you choose to. Imagine that you can transfer these somehow to the person sitting in the first position (again, the original you). You can gesture the transmission with your hands, or mentally. Then, go sit in “position 1” and imagine you’re receiving these through both body and mind. These are your new armor for future interactions. Remind yourself of the 6 points above. Now look at the person sitting in “position 2”. It feels different, doesn’t it? You have a better understanding of how to lead your confrontation and reach reconciliation. You and the other party will both win this time. GO!



Snap Out Of It: Dissociate. Here Is The “How”

Disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, helplessness, or sadness are but few of the negative states that can put us in a depressed mood. The reasons vary; and when horrific things happen, negative emotions become paralleled with foggy thinking. We may become imprisoned by a chain of negative thinking until our emotions change to the better. Great…., but how do our feelings change? Would you wait for them to change on their own, or rely on external factors to make it happen? What if that doesn’t take place soon enough? How about you play a more active role instead of waiting? Consider the options you have when you find yourself in a depressed mood. You have at least 3:

  1. Stay in your negative state, beat yourself up with further distressing thoughts, and worsen your mood further.
  2. Kick away those negative feelings directly and bounce back to an opposite state as if nothing happened (more like denying yourself any experience of negative feelings).
  3. Allow yourself to stay there a bit just to process what triggered your bad mood; then, change state and focus on finding solutions.


It goes without saying that the nature and the magnitude of the trigger can place you somewhere on that continuum at first; nonetheless, you have a choice to move out, away, or into healthier responding. But which of the above three options do you think is considered “healthier responding”? You deserve to live your life fully, so why restrict yourself to negative states? Hence, the first option is by no means the best choice. One of the beauties of being human is that you have feelings; and to deny yourself getting in touch with your feelings only deprives you of your humanity and gets you in more complicated emotional problems. Hence, denying yourself the variety of emotional experiences is, similarly, unwise. The second option, therefore, is ruled out. This leaves you with option three. Do I hear you say: “Easier said than done!” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about; it’s too difficult to snap out of it”? Let me suggest a tool I often use in therapy and coaching. It’s called “Dissociation”. Many use it intuitively, and it has widespread other uses besides changing states.


Sit in a quiet comfortable place in solitary. Start a mental scan of the events that precipitated your bad mood. If you’re unable to identify a specific event for your low mood, just examine how the previous hours went by. You’ll be surprised as to how easily the main cause emerges.


Assess: Start processing your feelings (processing here means identifying and labeling your feelings). Delve behind the feelings for reasons; analyze and dissect the situation into its main components. Your thoughts about it will feed into your feeling further down, so just allow yourself, then, to be fully associated with your negative state (i.e. feel, visualize, and hear the external and internal dialogues).


Dissociate: When you’re through this examination, physically stand up and face the place you were sitting in. It may seem bizarre the first time, but you’re alone (hopefully) and no one will wonder what in the world you’re doing (keep playing the game of dissociation). Visualize yourself sitting in that seat (make a mental picture of how you were sitting exactly – the other you). Imagine that the one standing, now, is your best friend (i.e. the best friend of the one sitting). Being your best friend now, what would you objectively advise the person in front of you to think feel, and do? Narrate the counter arguments of the situation, draw attention to the bigger picture, list the empowering possibilities, and reignite that person into a better mood.


Associate: Bring in several memories of times that you felt totally happy, confident, motivated, or any other positive state. Associate yourself with those good feelings every time by mentally visualizing each of those incidents, seeing all the details, hearing all the sounds, and re-living those feelings that dominated then. Let the picture become brighter, the sounds become louder, and allow those feelings to grow each time. Finally, get back into the body of the person sitting in that place (both mentally and physically). You still carry those positive vibes, so just permit them some time to take over that prior state as if you were receiving the new empowering vibes now.


When you do this, you will realize how much our thoughts affect our internal states. It is very easy to give in to negative thinking, but these exacerbate our negative emotions. If you want to snap out of it, just allow yourself some time to process what happened then change your thoughts. Changing your thoughts guarantees a change of state. Now you know how you can do that. Dissociate, but follow that with associating into good memories. Says who you cannot be the nautical wheeler of navigating your own ship of emotions?..….

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