In sports a good offense is sometimes the best tactic for winning a game. Having a win/loose attitude with relationships doesn’t work. My counselor taught me either both people win or both people lose.
“I’m very defensive which can come across cold or nasty. I also portray quite a lot of negativity which seems to be my barrier so I don’t get hurt.”
I didn’t not know how to stand my ground without being defensive or off putting. I felt like I either had to surrender or as my sister calls it “Scorched Earth.” I felt like I had to annihilate the other person to “win an argument.” Lousy way to maintain relationships. The concept that I didn’t need to participate in every argument I’m invited to or agree to disagree or fingertip wars was all new to me.
I did not learn fingertip wars from my counselor. I tried to find it on line but only found a bunch of stuff I wish I hadn’t read. It works better as a visual but I will try to describe what I learned in a communication workshop.
Opponents face each other and touching only their fingertips try to force their opponent across the line behind them. If the opponents push on each other their arms just move away. Since you can not grab, grip, or pull your opponent you can backup. In a sweeping wide turn backup until your opponent comes full around. For your opponent to stay in contact with you, they have to follow. Then walking backwards you walk over your goal line with a frustrated opponent following along. This only works with those uninitiated to this concept. I explained this to a friend when one of my children was listening and she looked at me appalled, “Mother, you actually did that to us.” I laughed, my daughter was an adult so knowing the ‘secret’ of winning by agreeing with your opponent for awhile was a useful skill. But I was still looking at relationships as win/lose.
Counseling taught me a new way to look at all important relationships. Mountain climbers tie themselves together and in order to reach their shared goal must work together and head in approximately the same direction.
Several things needed to happen. We needed to agree on a shared goal. A mutual plan needed to be agreed on. We needed to both follow the plan. NO scorched Earth, no manipulation, no dragging along. We either both succeeded or both failed. This was so new to me I needed to practice with my counselor first. I learned about being assertive. I learned about clearly describing what I want. I learned how to communicate with another person in a healthy exchange that was beneficial to both people win-win. I learned that negativity isolates me without getting me what I want out of life. I needed to totally change how I interacted with people. I think this is where counseling helped me the most. We didn’t spend much time on my past other than pointing out where I need to change my behavior to healthier ways of interacting. I also learned to cut the line to my abusers both mentally and emotionally. AKA ending the negative tape in my head telling me what to do. That negative tape gave me really bad advice and didn’t know me at all. Working at destroying the tape and choosing a new healthy path to being with people was a shared goal I had with my counselor. I enjoy people more and more all the time. I still make mistakes and get roped into an unhealthy relationships but I am better at getting out of these negative interactions and look for those that share my goals and desire to help each other succeed, win-win.