Difficult Topics: A Love-Centered Way to Approach and Broach Them All
Suppose you had a difficult topic to bring up with a loved one. It could be anything from forgetting to pick up some bread at the store like you said you would, to confessing you’re having an affair. There is a love-centered way to approach and broach all difficult topics that maximizes the possibilities for an OK outcome, or at least a less bad outcome. This method handles just about everything that’s hard to talk about and can be used for small, medium, large, and even huge, difficult topics.
The Love-Centered Approach to the Topic
To begin it is helpful, before you start talking, to first stop and meditate just a bit on being centered in your love for both the person you are going to be talking to and for yourself. Remember, the great teaching “Love others as you love yourself”. By becoming love-centered you are more likely to talk with better and more loving voice tones, more pleasant facial expressions, more loving gestures and more friendly posture changes. All this helps a bunch to facilitate good interaction. Love-centering is likely to help you communicate more love, more willingness to work toward harmony, and more all over OK-ness when you bring up your difficult topic. It also can help you to more lovingly listen to your loved one’s emotions and thoughts as they reply to what you have said. If you center yourself in love you are much less likely to be centered in fear. When you’re centered in fear you are much more likely to become, and to be perceived, as deceitful, defensive and in disagreeable denial. Those three things usually lead to destructive fights and relationship damage. So, meditate on how love-centered you will be toward your loved one and toward yourself as you talk about the difficult topic, whatever it is.
The Four Subject Review
After meditating on being love-centered mentally review this four step system. This system indicates that if you have a difficult topic to talk about you actually have four subjects to talk about, (1) the difficult topic itself, (2) your fear that the talk will go badly or have bad results, (3) your desire for it to go well, and (4) timing.
Let’s look at each of these.
(1) There is the difficult topic itself. Consider how you will accurately, clearly, sufficiently and truthfully describe your difficult topic. What words will you use and what words will you avoid. What words will help you convey love as you talk about the difficult topic. What emotions will you convey as you talk about the topic and what emotions will you seek to avoid.
(2) Next you have your fears to think about. Because the topic is difficult it gives rise to fear, or to fear’s cousins – apprehension, anxiety, nervousness, etc.. Therefore, you have your fear to talk about. You will do best to be able to describe what you’re afraid of, or apprehensive or anxious or nervous about what might happen. Are you afraid your loved one will be mad at you, or you will hurt their feelings, or make them afraid, or you will have a fight, or the relationship will end, or what? Then, of course, the thing to do will be to ask your loved one for assistance in avoiding what you fear. Again what words, tones of voice, looks and emotions will you want to use to communicate when you request your loved one’s assistance in avoiding what you fear. The idea here is to become a team working together against the problem and the things that could go wrong, and not to end up working against each other.
(3) Fear gives rise to a desire that things go well. Therefore, this is the third issue to talk about. Think about how you can best ask your loved one to work with you to go after the desired goal of a ‘mutually good’ talk outcome. Get clear and be precise about what you want. Do you want tolerance, for them to hear you out, forgiveness, cooperation, a lack of judgmentalism, harmony, teamwork, kindness, or what? Your job here is to clearly present a goal you can both work toward together. Think about how you will ask for what you want for yourself, and what you want in the way of an outcome to this talk for both of you. Do this in as straight forward a way as possible, and ask if your loved one will work with you to arrive at a mutually good outcome. If they can’t do that consider talking about this difficult topic at another time. This too works to avoid attacking each other and instead together mutually attacking the issues you are facing.
(4) Timing is the final consideration. It’s best not to bring up difficult topics when people are tired, hassled, distracted with various other stressors, short on available time, sick, hungry, or experiencing something they are enjoying a lot. Many difficulties are made much worse because someone just blurted out the difficult topic with no consideration for timing. Good timing is an act of good loving. Let me suggest that indifference to timing is indifference to a loved one’s state of being and that can be anti-loving.
Once you have conducted this mental review of these 4 points it’s time to be courageous and talk about the difficult topic with your loved one.
Broaching the Difficult Topic
When you’re using this system all these considerations are to be brought up ‘in reverse order’. It goes something like this. After meditating, and centering yourself in love, and conducting your mental review you would start with:
Timing – “Is this a good time to talk”? “If not now, when?” Then
Desire – “I want you to work with me discussing something that’s difficult for me to talk to you about. Please be extra loving and help me, and us, be OK. Can you pledge you will do that? (If the answer is “No” choose a later time to talk). Next
Fear – “I’m afraid you will be angry and we will have a fight, and I want us to work together as a team on this, and let’s not criticize let’s just focus on how we can get through this and do better. Will you do that with me, please?” Then finally bring up
The Difficult Topic – Remembered to talk clearly, accurately, sufficiently and truthfully about your topic. It’s also very helpful to be truthful about the emotions you are having dealing with the topic, with the person you are talking to and with anything else related to the topic. This is where you now say, “I didn’t pick up your cleaning like I said I would.” “I accidentally broke your favorite vase.” “I ended up spending way more money than we budgeted for.” “I’m not going to go with you to your mother’s house this Christmas.” “I’m having an affair with your best friend.”, or whatever the difficult topic is.
It may seem like this is a lot to go through just to talk about something difficult with someone you love. However, if a difficult topic is talked about without loving teamwork, like this system aims for, what do you think will happen? If talking about the difficult topic goes badly it is likely to take far more time, and energy, and be far more complicated than this approach usually arrives at. It also may be destructive in the extreme. Don’t expect perfect results, especially at first, as you learn to use this 6 step system. This approach usually helps people, especially couples, but also parents, children, other family members and friends avoid the destructiveness that is so common when difficult topics are broached. So, I would urge you to earnestly explore and experiment with this system. It’s not perfect and there are no guarantees, however, improvement is likely. I know many couples and others in relationships who practiced using this technique to the point it became a habit; they used to spend enormous amounts of time and energy struggling and miserably failing when attempting to deal with difficult topics before learning a love-centered way of dealing with difficult topics. This approach tends to work even better if you and the loved one you’re talking with both agree to study and practice the system together. I have seen whole families use this system to great advantage, along with many couples who were nearly ruined before they learned this way of approaching and broaching a difficult topic. It takes some work but it takes a whole lot less work than the destructive, dysfunctional way many people try to deal with difficult topics.
Remember, the difficult topic gives rise to fear of things going badly when talking about the difficult topic, which gives rise to a desire for things go well when talking about the difficult topic, and that gives rise to a need for thinking and talking about the timing of talking about the difficult topic.
First – meditate and center in love
Second – mentally review the system
Third – choose and co-arrange the timing of the talk carefully
Fourth – describe your desires for how the talk goes and the outcome. Then ask your loved one for help in achieving that outcome.
Fifth – describe your fears and ask for help to avoid them
Sixth – bring up your hard to talk about topic
Let me suggest you go to a loved one and both of you talk over using this system in the future. This system has been used by hundreds of people with the report of great results happening again and again. However, it does take practice and it’s best done when the people talking both know how to use this approach. It does work when only one is aware of the approach, but it’s usually emotionally bumpier that way. Also be aware that it’s probably going to be a bit awkward at first, but with enough practice it flows more easily. This approach is designed to help people become synchronized with one another before a hard topic is broached, and that provides quite a great advantage over just bringing up difficult topics ‘out of the blue’ or creeping into it with confusing hints and innuendos. It’s also designed to make difficult topic talk a more loving process, and in love relationships that’s always an advantage over an unloving process. Remember, all things can be said with love (see the entry “Say It With Love”).
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
♥ Love Success Question
In your love life network who is most difficult to talk to, about what? Can you imagine using this approach with that person concerning whatever is difficult to talk to them about?