Six Bridges to Relationships
Several years ago, I had a dream that awakened me at 3:30 am. I was in a classroom or meeting, and the person in charge kept telling me what I wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing right. I remember thinking, "JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!" You know... give it to me as a simple direct request!
As I woke up, I heard a voice in my head which was a bit odd. It said, "That is the "Third Bridge" get up and write it down." I thought to myself, "I don’t want to do that." So I said back, "It is 3:30 in the morning and I don’t want to get up to write it down." The voice insisted, "Get up NOW and write it down. Otherwise, you will forget it." So, against my desires to stay in bed, I got up, found a pen and paper, and wrote it down. Then I went back to sleep.
The morning came, and I read my note to myself. "Third Bridge - Simple Direct Request." Then I thought, "Well if that is the Third Bridge, what are the first two and how many might there be?" I knew it was about relationships and began to ponder this topic and discuss it with my in-house psychologist Dr. Linda McCarley (also known as my wife).
After contemplation, we set upon elucidating and writing what are now the Six Bridges to Relationships.
Pay Real Attention
Real attention means complete, undivided attention. You would have ALL of your attention on the other person. No attention on yourself or what you need to say next or on anything else other than a desire to hear and understand. Being able to do this is HUGE!
In my dream, what the person was actually doing was telling me what was wrong with me. To "Avoid Invalidation" means to stop any and all communication that makes the other person wrong in any way, which of course is invalidating. No one likes to be told what is wrong with them. People do enough of that to themselves already.
Make Simple Direct Requests
A Simple Direct Request sounds like a request. Just say what you are asking the other person to do! No pre-ramble and no post-ramble. Simply state it in the form of a request.
Here are some examples that are not requests:
- "I wish you would..."
- "It would be nice if you..."
- "... needs to be done."
- "Why don’t you..."
Let Go Of The Past
This one can be a hard one. The longer the relationship, the more likely there are things from the past to dwell on and use to invalidate the other person. Holding on to the negative incidents, experiences and judgements are what often creates the distance in a relationship for which a bridge is needed. These judgements are often used to invalidate the other person. This bridge may be easier to pass over after passing over the second bridge and stopping the invalidation.
Give Up Control Of The Other
We often find a need to control the other person. We think if we can control them then everything will be okay for us. If they are resistant to our ideas that are in fact designed to control them, it is because they disagree with being controlled or suppressed. You are probably resistant to being controlled by others as well when you disagree with what is being offered.
Most of the time our motivation to control others is to alleviate our own anxiety and fear. People often say their motivation is that they care about the other person and want to help or protect them. If they don’t want it, they will resist it. If they are resisting it, they are not feeling like you care for them and will distance themselves.
Finally... CHOOSE LOVE!!! Contrary to what most people may believe, love is a choice. Of course this bridge is considerably easier if you have crossed the prior two bridges. It is hard to choose love when you are holding on to the negative baggage from the past and trying to control the other person.
When that is happening, you are more engulfed in fear than love. Those two are mutually exclusive. You can experience LOVE or you can experience FEAR. But you can only experience them one at a time.
If you want a healthier and happier relationship with anyone and especially to the ones closest to you, use the Bridges. Cross over the Bridges and experience the joy of Love and Connection, and the simplicity of uncluttered Being with another Being, whom is always doing his or her best.