by Todd Creager
When you talk about relationship problems, you hear the word “attention” a lot. Stand at attention, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention-seeking behavior. I actually like the word. I will define it as follows: the act of focusing or giving someone or something your energy.
As children, we learn to pay attention in ourselves to what our parents paid attention to in us. For example, as a child gets older, if the parent does not pay attention to the child’s feelings, but does pay attention to the child’s achievements in time what happens? The growing child/adult learns to not pay attention to his feelings and focuses a lot on his achievements. It’s often that simple. So, this hypothetical person (who is many of you) may not even experience his feelings unless it is extremely painful. This can cause so many relationship problems down the road.
Relationship Problems Start When A Person Can’t Accept Him or Herself As Is
As a partner, this person will probably not be able to honor his partner’s feelings either. You cannot accept something in others that you do not accept in yourself. Many of us, especially men, have not developed the practice of paying attention to what is going on inside of our bodies- which is where feelings and sensations are experienced. Many people spend too much of their time in their heads, caught up in thoughts. Thoughts are good; there is nothing wrong with thoughts; the problem is we have learned to give too much of our energy to our mind and not enough to our body.
Here is one of the problems with spending too much time in our heads and not enough in our bodies that causes an incredible amount of relationship problems: Our inner sense of what is right for us and others can be felt by pulling our energy away from our head and mind and putting it in our heart and gut. Our intuition is developed through this process; hence expressions such as “follow your heart,” or “what’s your gut instinct.”
What If Your Relationship Problems Make It Difficult To “Sense” What Your Correct Instincts Are?
Our inner sense will sometimes lead us to somewhere different and unfamiliar; maybe somewhere uncomfortable. We can often be surprised by what our inner sense is telling us to do. Maybe it tells us to take a new direction in career or relationship or bring out a hidden aspect of ourselves. You can say that the vast resources of our unconscious mind live deeper in our body. Those that are spending too much time paying attention to automatic thoughts are giving the conscious mind too much power. This does not allow for growth or changing unhelpful patterns. It is a very different way of being- attending to our sensations, feelings, heart’s direction or gut instinct.
How To Listen To Yourself Instead of Just Your Relationship Problems
Listening to your thoughts can be helpful. If you are in the grocery store and remembering a recipe so that you know what to buy, being in your head and recalling is the right place to be. I encourage you though to spend time “out of your mind” and into your body. What do you really want to do that you have not done? What are you feeling? What do you want to express that you have not expressed?
Listen and wait for the answer. This feels strange at first to people who have spent the vast percentage of their time thinking. Let your unconscious wisdom come forth. Let your body reveal its wisdom. It may then be easier to honor the wisdom and experiences in the body of others – and sometimes that’s enough to evaporate what might seem to be unsolvable relationship problems.