When you get bigger, it can make people feel small, and they’ll want to hold you back. Here’s how we can deal with it.
Sometimes to make a cake, you have to break a few eggs. To make some new chickens, you also have to break a few eggs.
So how are you going with that little chicken?
How are you going with breaking through the hard protective layers around you, into the sunlight and happy days that are waiting for you?
And how is everyone around you handling it?
Are they feeling like broken eggs?
The sub-title for this piece is called: “How to take your partner with you.” It was one of the quirky things that came out of the student stories at last year’s super-conference. More than once, somebody signed up for one of the premium programs without consulting their partners.
Now, I fully endorse taking action, but I definitely don’t recommend going it solo if you are in a committed relationship. There’s the awkward conversation to be had over dinner that evening… possibly a night on the couch. But more than that, what we’re talking about is setting off in a radically new direction in life – re-engineering your financial DNA, resetting your happiness settings.
If your husband or wife is not down with it, it’s going to make it very, very tricky.
So how do you bring your partner with you?
I’ve seen this happen a few times. When one half of the marriage is ready to take action, but the other half is not. That other half can really dig in their heels and make things difficult.
And often when people step up and announce that they’re ready for more responsibility, a new direction, a new way of being – their partner can find it very challenging. Suddenly their whole world is under threat. They don’t know where they stand any more.
But you rarely get the honest fear that they’re feeling. You might get anger. You might get condescending ridicule. You might get righteous cynicism.
You might be asked to give up on those dreams and ‘stay put’.
But you rarely get the fear that’s underpinning it all.
So how do you take your partner with you?
This is complex (obviously), but there’s three things worth keeping in mind, I reckon.
1. Give space for the emotions to settle
Emotions are funny things, and it often takes time to really identify what they are. And so what I’ve seen is that when one person is ready to take things to a new level, it can make the other person feel uncomfortable – unsure of themselves, presented with an unknown fear.
They may then be quick to act out of that discomfort. They try to dissipate the discomfort by channelling it into more familiar emotions like anger or judgement. But behind this, the true emotion is still rattling around in the background, waiting for a moment where it can be properly recognised for what it is.
So what I would suggest is don’t rail against these early manifestations too hard. Expect them. Know they’re part of the process. Give them space to play out and, hopefully, move on.
I think what happens is that if you meet anger with anger or judgment with argument, you can enforce those emotions. They solidify and become more real than they otherwise might have been. Rather than just blowing over, your partner may feel they need to justify their anger and defend it.
So if you can, just witness it. Say, “Honey, I sold your jetski and enrolled in Dymphna’s Ultimate program” and then just see what unfolds. Don’t judge it. Don’t hold your partner to it. Know you are just getting emotional flares, not their settled opinion on the matter. That will come in time.
Of course, this can be a very challenging posture to hold. Someone triggered in to anger can then call up all of their old wounds to defend that anger.
“You sold the jetski?!? Typical. It’s like that time you ran over the cat 17 years ago. You don’t have a caring bone in your body!”
Their fear doesn’t want to be seen for what it is. It doesn’t want to have a light shone on it. It will go to great lengths to have its energy channelled into other expressions so it can remain in the shadows.
So it goes into anger. And then it needs to bolster than anger (because the person isn’t really angry), and so will call up old wounds and old arguments to sustain itself.
Or it goes into judgement, and then summons old mistakes and follies to prove that you need to be judged (in general, and therefore, in this instance specifically).
This can be hard to endure. Your partner’s fear is spoiling for a fight, because if you are fighting then you are sitting together in anger and judgement, and the fear can keep itself hidden.
And because your partner knows you so well, it knows just the bait to throw at you to bait you in.
“This is why I tell the kids you’re bad with money. You’ve set them up for failure.”
If you can, just roll with it. Witness it, hear it out, and don’t hold your partner to what they say in the moment.
(Obviously it might be good to check in on some of the other stuff at another time… “Hey babe, you remember when you said I was a terrible mother a few days ago… Do you really think that?)
But if it is just fear, then its defences will be flimsy, and they will fall down on their own accord if given the time and space.
So that’s number 1: Give space for the emotions to settle.
Turns out I’ve got more to say about this than I thought! So I’ll have to leave the other two points til next week. Stay tuned.