So, I was considering a home remodeling project when my wife said to me, “Clearly you aren’t capable of handling this, so let’s just go ahead and get some competent husbands involved.”
I know. Can you believe it?
Well, you shouldn’t. She didn’t really say that.
But she gave me that look, you know?
Actually, no, she didn’t give me a look either.
The project was something I hadn’t done before, and I was hesitating. So Shari offered her help in the form of a reasonable suggestion. Why don’t you ask some of the guys for help? I responded with irritation. Why?
What she said passed through my filter. So I “heard” what she didn’t say.
Earlier in my life I endured some painful experiences that led me to conclude that I was incompetent. So I started walking through life with a limp, feeling a deep sense of inadequacy.
My wife’s suggestion touched that vulnerable place in my heart and ZAP! It hurt!
My friends, Greg and Erin Smalley, call these sensitive areas “hot buttons.” Often in our conversations, much more is going on under the surface–at the heart level—than either party realizes. A comment can turn into a vulnerability-seeking missile that finds its target –a painful wound or a deep fear. We’re shocked when we re-visit our pain or re-live our fear. We react. And nobody knows what just happened. I learned that from Greg and Erin.
So, it can be a good idea to have another conversation about the last conversation. If we do some detective work, we might discover what’s really going on inside of us, and cultivate a mutual understanding that strengthens our relationships.
Have you ever experienced a painful shock?
–No cats were harmed in the making this cartoon.