All relationships, whether family, group or romantic, are a bundle of intricate human dynamics. These dynamics are the contribution of each person inside the relationship, making everyone responsible and powerful co-creators of the relationship they find themselves within.
Last week we explored The Acknowledgement Practice, where the focus was largely on Partner A being tasked to track their defense strategies and then take ownership for the part they’ve played in their relational disconnect.
This week, however, we ask both Partner A and Partner B to take responsibility in what we call the Advanced Acknowledgement Process.
This sounds wonderfully fair and fairly simple right?
Well, consider this scenario...
You have been waiting for your partner to own something that has been impacting you and your relationship for some time. Your partner finally owns what they’ve brought to the relationship that doesn’t work and you’re feeling a mixture of relief, validation and perhaps even redemption of your own previous behavior.
And now...the Advanced Acknowledgement Practice asks you to respond by tracking and owning how you’ve co-created the very environment that allowed whatever they’ve just owned to occur in the first place.
Similar to last week, this level of ownership (especially if your partner's behavior has felt particularly painful) can be the last thing you want to do in this moment and yet it is essential for the health & well being of your relationship. This is emotional hygiene at its best.
These practices are not for the faint of heart, they require a commitment to emotional hygiene that can be highly uncomfortable at times. In time however, this language of the heart will become your native tongue, transforming your relational experiences on all levels.
To learn more about The Advanced Acknowledgment Process watch the video above. To experience this process through the eyes of a student, enjoy the accompanying blog here.
Through the Eyes of a Student
By Shalini Tewari
‘When I’m in pain, I know that I go into avoidance and withdraw from you. I don’t respond to your texts for several days and when I do, I don’t acknowledge the pain this causes you. I can understand why this would then trigger your anger and set you off. This can sometimes spiral into unhealthy dynamics between us and that’s not all on you.’
My partner and I are having a heart-to-heart conversation after the events of our weekend away together. It brought up many of the prior instances when our interactions caused tension between us.
He is sharing the role he plays and how his actions contribute to either prolonging the discomfort or enhancing it.
It seems as though by my acknowledging what I did that didn’t work in our relationship, he naturally felt the desire to communicate and take responsibility for his part.
I am pleasantly surprised. It makes me feel less crazy about those times when I felt like I would over boil from his radio silence. I feel myself relax and breathe deeply.
There is a sense of expansion in knowing that the uncomfortable and unpleasant dynamics that show up in our relating are co-created together. And both parties recognising and acknowledging this feels freeing and precious.
As he shared, I had a sense that going forward, I would be able to take space and avoid going into a triggered overreaction by recognising that this is one of his defensive responses to pain.
It also gives me the opportunity to explore the part of me that tolerates this behaviour, and to check in to see if my needs are coming from a place of collapse, or if they are valid and require a boundary to be set.
‘When you took responsibility for your action that don’t work in our relationship, I felt a softness and desire to look at how I also contribute to our closure.
I cannot promise that I won’t react in the same way in the future, but perhaps I will come back into my heart more quickly, knowing how my defenses make you feel, and how this reaction creates further discord and distance between us.’
Without making false promises, my partner is offering a compromise for his learned and longtime defense strategy, and that gives me a sense of patience and understanding to continue on our journey together.
This acknowledgment process has created space for both of us to notice when we might be looking out through the lenses of our limiting beliefs and utilizing strategies to protect us.
And once again, regardless of how the relationship unfolds, our hearts are open to one another, and our willingness to continue the exploration grows.