I loved talking with Deanna. We talk about pushing away pain, the OUCHs caused by perfection and what it provide to "hold space." You can listen below or read the transcript. And follow Deanna if you like at ... https://reviveyourmidlifemarriage.com
Deanna Bryant I’m so excited today I have Sondra Harmon on the show. She is a certified meditation teacher, a transformational relationship coach and author. She lives in Puerto Rico enjoying life with her much loved husband, where she writes leads, workshops and host retreats. Today we’ll be talking about her book The Power of Ouch, an Illustrated Guide to Healing from Hurt and Creating a Life of Love and Connection.
Sondra Thank you so much. I’m super excited to be here and have a conversation with you.
Deanna Bryant I am too I’ve been looking forward to it all week,
Sondra, I read The Power of Ouch in a week. I could have done it in a day. It only took me that long because I wanted to complete the amazing exercises you have in the book. I honestly did not want to stop once I got started. It was so insightful, the way you explained the power of facing some of our pain points and dealing with them as a way to be connected to those we have relationships with. So I feel like I’m pretty self aware. But you shined a light on some things in my own life that I needed to look at more closely. Something you said and I want to give a quote because I want to ask you more about this. You said that “giving space to the outer pain gives you a path to embrace all your experiences, instead of pushing parts of yourself away.” So how does not dealing with the pain push parts of yourself away?
Sondra Wow, that is such a big. It’s such a deep topic. Because one of the things that I’ve looked at a lot are the times when we’ve rejected something about ourselves, whether it’s somebody prompted it perhaps a parent or teacher or somebody that we looked Up to send something that made us criticize ourselves, or it’s something that we got a result we didn’t intended. And we turned that upset inward than were criticizing ourselves, right. And the problem is, like, if you’re blaming somebody else, and if you’re critical of somebody else, and you don’t like somebody else, you can leave them. Right? You can go to another room, another city, another country. But when you’re the person that you’re not accepting, and you’re not willing to let be as they are, you can’t run. The only choice you have, other than dissolving that upset, is to start saying, That’s not me, I’m not going to go there. I’m just going to live in my little safe box here. And that’s not part of me anymore. Hurt isn’t part of me anymore. And it’s really limiting. And it really makes you shrink down. If you can only look at those, you know, what we would call perfect. And in just the whole idea of perfection is kind of a mental construct, where what’s perfect for one person is perfect, imperfect for another. So what really is perfect? So you’ve got this idea of what perfection is. And if you’re only willing to be with yourself in those areas, you’re perfect, like your relationship with yourself is, is limited. You know, all those things that that you could be growing and learning and doing, but you’re not going to be perfect in the beginning. So it’s really, I think, super important to be able to give yourself the latitude and the love to be you at whatever stage you are in whatever growth you’re experiencing. And the other thing I love about relationships is they can be such a mirror. So if you can give your partner that latitude and that love and that acceptance, then you can give it more to yourself. And conversely, if you can give it more to yourself, you can give it more to your partner. So it really works together like this great Jacob’s ladder. If you’re always looking towards being more loving, being more accepting, being more compassionate, being more joyful, all those those yummy things.
Deanna Bryant So why is it Do you think that we are less likely to really deal with the emotional pain in relationships?
Sondra I think there’s a lot of a lot of different things that come up for different people when you ask this question. So some of them have to do with being told or being shown when we’re young that it’s not okay to express emotion. You know, and we hear about this for especially for men, but it’s true for for little girls too. It just reminded me of this video. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it but it is a video of a father holding space for his two year old daughter while she throws a temper tantrum. And it’s real. It’s really worth looking looking for. I think its father holds space for two year old having a temper tantrum and it comes up because it was very noticed and lots of people saw it and commented and it gets used a lot when people are kind of talking about raising children. But so here he is, he’s got his two year old and she’s throwing a temper tantrum. And what he doesn’t do is actually as interesting as what he does do. What he doesn’t do is try and pacify her by giving her toy or giving her something else to look at. He doesn’t try and give her something else to put her attention, he doesn’t try and tell her, you know, oh stop that. He doesn’t do anything at all. That indicates that it’s not okay to be having a meltdown, as a two year old, he doesn’t leave, he doesn’t get angry. The only thing he does is sits there quietly with her and make sure she doesn’t hurt herself. So she stopped, you know, when she starts like kicking her legs on the ground, he kind of cushions her. And he just sits there and lets this two year old work all that emotion out of her body. And I thought, what a frigging gift he’s giving to his daughter. Because I can only think back to people of my generation that were raised by mothers that wereraised by mothers of their generation, raised of mothers of their generation. you know, we’re slowly evolving. But I can just imagine my mother would not be able to sit for 45 minutes while I had a temper tantrum, and certainly my dad wouldn’t. So you can see what probably happened when I was two and started crying. Either they gave me a pacifier or a cookie or said, you know, stop being so upset or go Wipe your tears or anything like that, that from that age it starts making it not okay to say Ouch.
Deanna Bryant Because if we grow up in a family, where sharing our emotions, feeling them even acting out, is squelched, it feels like it’s not a safe place to feel our emotions. And so we learn that it’s not safe to deal with our feelings. And so we suck them up, or, like you talk about we, you know, we try to do something else to distract ourselves, or stuff it down or rationalize why we shouldn’t be feeling that way. And we then make it unsafe for ourselves to feel those emotions.
Sondra And it doesn’t even have to be in a in a family that you’re told that you shouldn’t express emotions like in mine. It was more like nobody expressed emotion. So you know, just to be part of the tribe. I thought that’s just how it was.
Deanna Bryant You know, you talk about in your book, you have this metaphor of the hot potatoes. And wow, I love that. And I loved your illustrations in the book. I’m a I am a metaphor person. I think metaphors. I love visuals. I learned better by visuals. So I really loved the illustrations you had in the book. So tell the audience, what do you mean by hot potato?
Sondra It’s that pain or that tension that we get. And we get this pain or tension in our bodies. When either something has happened, that we don’t want to have happened, something hasn’t happened that we didn’t want to have happened. Something was said or not said that we did or didn’t expect, right. And usually, there’s some kind of suddenness to it. And it’s, it makes sense to me that our bodies would react that way because, you know, think back went way, way, way, way, way, way, way back, you know, hundreds of 1000s of years ago, and you’re walking in the forest and the forest is always the same and all of a sudden a bear shows up there. I might actually physically die. But now, we get into that same thing with either ideas that we have or day to day expectations that either we had because of it, We saw it happening, or we thought it should happen that way, we kept thinking it over and over again, it’s like that same guy walking down the path, and something happens that you don’t expect is like, and it creates a tension, this actually physically creates a tension in our body. And if we don’t do anything about it, it sits there. And then our mind starts working on strategies, you know, things, what, what can we do to make this never happen again, as opposed to just going, Okay, it happened. You know, it just happened. That’s all there is to it. And the idea of a hot potato is, if you cool a hot potato down, you can get nourishment from it. Like, you can actually take a hot potato, blow on it, slice it up, eat it, and now you’re nourished. And that’s what I kind of doing in the second half of the third, third part of the book in terms of looking at what might be underneath that. So that things become less ouchy altogether. But you can never do the intellectual exercise well if you’re still holding on to the tension in your body, because then it simply becomes a way of, Oh, my God, I got to get the tension out of my body, as opposed to Okay, tensions on my body. Now, let’s see what was going on there. So it’s almost like accepting the tension, accepting the experience, and then evaluating it. You have to let that pain work its way through your body. And it really, with emotional pain. It’s, there’s some people say anywhere between 15 and 90 seconds. It does, it’s not that long. If you stay with it. If you allow it to be there, if you don’t try and push it away, if you don’t do all those things that that father didn’t do with his daughter, if you let it go through you at that moment, it works its way out of your body. And the relief is amazing. I had heard this, and when I started to actually practice it, I realized that it didn’t even take counting to 90 before I felt the release of the tension. I knew I was free. Because I know that I can take 15 to 90 seconds of any emotional discomfort or pain. if I can just be with it and let it be there. And whatever its intensity is. And I know because I’ve done it. And I’ve seen it, I’ve worked other people through it that it’s only this temporary thing about 90 seconds max, then doesn’t that open up the possibilities? So you can go into a relationship, or continue a relationship with an open heart, that’s, that’s the biggest thing I hear is like, well, I don’t want to get hurt again. But you are going to get hurt again. So let’s just show you how within less than a minute and a half, you can let that pass through and then see maybe what’s under it because underneath it is something that’s sometimes- I look at it like a glitch in the software like you have a meaning that is off, you’re gonna give a meaning that is causing you the distress as we come up with our own meanings. Or there’s some expectation that you had that actually is invalid, because if you have an expectation and it’s not met, well, then that expectation was a faulty expectation. Right? If you’re like, if you’re expecting it to be sunny every single day, and you’re living in Puerto Rico, and all of a sudden it rains one day, well, you need to stop having the expectation that’s going to be sunny every day. To me, that’s just so logical when you look at it. And then you look at the stories you might be telling. And then taking a look at the strategies are all things that hurt underneath that Ouch. It’s huge. Start changing any of those, now you’re clearing out so many possibilities of times you might have been hurt that you won’t because you’ve kind of upgraded your software.
Tune in next week for part 2 of this interview with Sondra.