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#359: The Hard Questions That Might Save Your Relationship | Susan Piver

2021-06-23

Today we have some counterintuitive relationship advice. If you’re in a tough spot with your loved one, why would you want to have a deep chat about religion, politics, work, or your eating habits? Wouldn’t that just make everything worse? My guest today says asking these hard questions is exactly what you should do. 

Susan Piver is a fan favorite in TPH-world. She has been a practicing Buddhist for more than a quarter-century. She’s a graduate of a Buddhist seminary, founder of The Open Heart Project, and a New York Times bestselling author of many books, including How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life. This month, she’s releasing a revised and expanded edition of her blockbuster book, The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do.” This book started out as a relationship tool for recently engaged couples, but it’s taken on a much broader life. You can use it if your long-term relationship has hit a snag, if you’ve recently broken up with someone and want to understand why, or if you’re single and just want to know yourself better. The book originally came out 20 years ago, but a lot has changed since then, so Susan has gone through and done a big rewrite. 

In this conversation, we talk about: why hard questions are so key to building or rebuilding the foundation for a healthy relationship; the difference between love affairs and long-term relationships (and how failing to see the difference can tank your relationship); why breakups are rarely caused by lack of love, but instead by something else; and Susan will explore, from a Buddhist perspective, what happens when the boundaries between you and another person begin to dissolve – and what to watch out for when this happens.

Also, there’s (just barely!) still time to join us in our free Taming Anxiety Challenge. This ten-day meditation challenge will teach you how to understand your anxiety and give you practical tools for coping with the difficult thoughts and emotions that arise when you are anxious. And it’s also a great way to kickstart your meditation practice. 

You can join the Taming Anxiety Challenge by downloading the Ten Percent Happier app: https://10percenthappier.app.link/install. You should be prompted to join the Challenge after registering your account. If you've already downloaded the app, just open it up or visit this link to join: https://10percenthappier.app.link/TamingAnxietyChallenge. Be sure to sign up by June 24!

Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/susan-piver-359

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From ABC this? Is the ten percent? Have your bike? Guess I'm Dyin Harris, hey hey today, some counter intuitive relationship advice, safer example you're in a tough spot where their loved one. Why, at that moment, would you want to have a deep chat about religion and politics or eating habits when they should make everything worse. My guest today says asking these hard questions is precisely what you need to do so in favour is a fan favorite in Tpa world she's been practicing Buddhist for more than a quarter century. She's, a graduate of a buddhist seminary found of the open heart project and a New York ties bestselling author of many books, including- and I really like this title- how not to be?
rate of your own life this month, though she's releasing a revised and expanded edition of her blockbuster book. The hard questions, one hundred essential questions to ask before you say I do Let me clarify that subtitle, because some of you may be thinking. I am not about to say I do this started out as a relationship tool for recently engage couples. However, it has taken on a much broader life, it's designed to be used, if you're long term relationship has had a snag or if you have recently broken up with somebody in one. I understand why, in your own mind or if your single in just want to know yourself better, the book originally came out twenty years ago, but it a lot has changed to say the least since then so Susan has gone through and at a big rewrite. In this conversation we talk about why hardware These are so keen to building were rebuilding the foundation for a healthy relationship, the difference between the LAW
of affairs and long term relationships and how failing to see the difference contact your relationship, why breakups are rarely caused by lack of love, but instead by something else, we also talk about Susan's explorations from a Buddhist objective of what happens when the boundaries between you and another person begin to dissolve and what to watch out for when that happens. Before we get going Susan, I just wanna Make a mention that there is still a little bit of time just barely time enough for you to join our free taming anxiety challenge its attend day, meditation challenge. The goal is to teach you how to understand Your anxiety, give you some practical tools for coping with the difficult thoughts and emotions at around. We are anxious to also a great way to kick start your meditation practice. If you're in a rut, once you sign up get a short video every day from me in conversation with an expert anxiety and then after the video there will be a short guided meditation for you to practise what you ve just learned,
you also get daily reminders to get you to your meditation could. her chair or wherever you meditate, and you can invite your friends and family to join you in the challenge and again it's all for free your particular flavour of anxiety manifests as procrastination. that's not unusual. I do want to say though, that now is the last chance to join us for the challenge and replace that have it with a new one. You can sign up by downloading the ten percent. Have Europe wherever you get your apps by June. Twenty fourth. Ok, let's get going now we're Susan Fibre survivor. Welcome back to the show, I'm so glad to be here. It's always great to see you Dan likewise and then before her before we start a rolling. I asked you my cousin, the question that I ask guests which, as you know it anything you wanna talk about before we do the interviewing you said yeah my here's, my question: why our relationships impossible, so let me throw that quite your bag.
Do, why are really additives? Impossible? Yeah? I don't know, but they are, As someone now has been married for over twenty years and is written about relationships a number of times and keeps thinking I'm gonna get it right. Once we solve this one issue or if we get over this very irritating thing, or this very hurtful thing, there's gonna be so smooth sailing ahead and in all these years, I think would have come to realize is for me it's impossible not to be in this relationship. It's my life. It's not my whole life, but it's the fabric of my life is very interwoven with this relationship and it's impossible to get it right. So what happens when you find yourself in a situation, that's impossible to make right and impossible to not engage with that puts human interesting spine. Don't you think, maybe just don't, expect her to get a ripe excellent
Linda Podcast over seer, but easier said than done. Maybe we need to approach relationships away. We approach meditation, which is you're, not gonna win. There is no sort of like a single thing. It's just you muddle through. Interestingly, we could also approach meditation as we do. A relationship in the sense that its different every time you can show up, in both cases with the intentions I'm gonna nail at this time. I know exactly what I'm doing and it offers apart for you can show up in either case grumpy unhappy, I'm gonna founded in today, and something magical blossoms or not it's alive. In both cases, as I your stand, it the inciting inside the insight that put you on the path writing. This book was something along the lines of
being in love, isn't enough, you can be in love with somebody, but if you don't love your life with that person, it won't work exactly being in love. Is enough for love affair, but it's not enough for our relationship. The insight that I, when my then boyfriend, suggested marriage, which I was very scared to hear him, put that on the table. I am thinking about it. Thinking about you, I love him, but so what I love all the other people. I was in a relationship with two. I still owe them, but those relationships ended. But when I thought about it, I realized they didn't end because we didn't love each other. They ended because we couldn't find a way to create a life together that we both loved,
and so that made me start thinking about this particular person. I love him, but so why? What is that connect to doesnt seem to mean that's it recent to make a commitment, so I started thinking about what what do I know about what he thinks about our life together, not how he feels about me because in longer term relationships it seems you don't really argue, feelings so much you argue about. Why did you put that over there? I don't want to celebrate their holiday, or your family drive me crazy. I need you
become my religion or those are the things that really push the buttons division of labour and you know who is doing what when etc, etc. It's interesting my wife and I did some couples counselling several years ago with a guiding Michael Vincent Miller and he wrote a book called intimate terrorism. Oh my god, I wrote this book before nine eleven, so terrorism was, he will eat, didn't, have the same sort of punch that it has now. In any event, one of the arguments he made is that we in the West and in a rested state of development, because we think the Hollywood and love songs. Think of love as a narrow ban. The love affair that you just described and we have trouble coping once the fireworks of side and we need to figure out
Who's in laws are we gonna see for Thanksgiving and the more mundane aspects of life? Does that sort of rhyme with what you're talkin about? Yes, it does, and I love that title is crazy up deaf an attack it out, and I dont know if it's just because of love songs in Hollywood. Certainly that plays a part in it, but as you know, because we know each other, I am a long time buddhist practitioner, my partner, isn't by the way, so just a fly for what that's worth. There's a tremendous amount of emphasis put on how you work with your thoughts and your feelings and sensations, and the present more and there's so much irritation and difficulty in long term relationships. No one ever tells us that, for some reason, the closer you get to another person and the longer you know them the more the line blurs between who you are who they are used who inhabit a world together. You don't
of their mood. Is your mood so courting to this particular buddhist view. Then the way we talk to ourselves bleeds into the way we talk to other people and the way most of us talk to our selves is not very nice, a ladder judgment, a lot of harshness, alot of critique and so part of the spiritual journey as I've studied. It is to work with those mind states not just for yourself, but so that when you enter the shared world that you have with others, you can tell the difference and use the voice. You know use your inside voice as it were, but in this way it seems like self compassion or reprogramming the way you talk yourself, while it may seem self centered adopts as their core individualistic. It can have profound effects on the way you show up in all of your relationships, including
intimate, one. It's the opposite of selfish, it's a gesture of kindness, certainly towards yourself, but also to others. So tell me about the book. You wrote this twenty years ago before you were married and then you what Acta rewrite it. What did you find, as you were, going through that process? Will I wrote the book, as you say twenty years ago, because I was like in my thirty's. I've never been married. I didn't think you'd ever get married. My then boyfriend. I were walking down saint marketplace actually in New York City, and we were just having this audibly loving close moment, and I looked at him and I could see Good up asked me to marry him. I could see you start to sink down in the middle of a very crowded place, an eye slapped my hand over his mouth. Like don't do it
please don't do it. That's a terrifying thing, and only just looked at each other and laughed goes. We both knew what the other was thinking. Anyway, we ended up revisiting. question, and then I was thinking That's what how do I know this gonna work has doesn't seem to work for most people I don't want to be like the people. I knew growing up, who just made fun of each other and roll their eyes at each other and so on. So I had this epiphany as we discussed out. This is about our life together, not about how we feel what do I know about how he used his life. How do you make this commitment? Honestly? I went to the bookstore and all the books about getting married, we're about what you wear and flowers, and I like close and flowers and so on, but there is nothing that wasn't super psychological or super like it day and I don't really want either of those
just started. Writing down questions that were to me where we gonna live, because we lived in two different cities at that point. And what is your kick and call me his son was young at that time and it was for him to know how to relate to me and what holidays or going to celebrate and how much money do you have. I think that's a reason, question to ask someone that year thrown your lot in with it these questions down and we ended up answering them and for about a third of them will again. How can we got that? We agree for a third of them. will, I know, you're wrong. We totally disagree and for the fund, Third, we just had no idea how to answer it and in all three cases it was ok because these questions,
and about engraving a contract. It's about knowing each other, so is telling a friend of mine about this, and she said TAT would make a good book and through happens sense, and I am not exaggerating. It became a book had to write like seventy more questions, but it became a book and by other happens there It became a huge book. I heard from people who were grateful now this helped us get tonight, other, I heard from people or angry that we broke up because of your book. I heard from a lot of parents who are like about this
so my kid is choosing I'm giving US book health and think it through, and I heard from a lot of single people who said this, help me figure out who I'm looking for some other things seemed kind of useful and then ok, decades decades decades years go by, and I was sitting at my desk about a year and a half ago or something thinking you know. What's not in that book questions about social media, because there was no such thing ass, his enemy,
in that book questions about politics and back then you might disagree, but you could marry someone from a different political party without wanting to be no feeling murderous, but it's different now, so I suggested to the publisher: let's revise if in their like. Yes, let's do it, and additionally, I noticed wow. That book was written by a white person for white people, I'm still white person. But can I expand the view here? so that its not just for people who look like me and without being performed at ever virtue signalling, are all all the things. Can I genuinely make it useful to more people, so Those things were behind the revision and in our brief cap, before getting into the media the discussion, you said that you should think to go back and read a book by that many years ago version of yourself, but you you haven't
and been married at that point. So what are the differences between the voice of that person in the voice of this person? I really appreciate you. Bring that because that was the most powerful part was to remember her and a kind of loved her and I know her but she's not me anymore, but I really appreciated her sweetness and hopefulness. I just appreciated her intention to make an honest commitment without having any idea what she was talk, About- and you know there are some embarrassing things too, like that- I would never say that today, but mostly it was a full circle kind of feeling. And how long you been married but a boat to have my eleven year and congratulations, though, none of thirteen years,
they walked toward congratulations. So something happens. You know it's like get in a little boat was someone and you'd like push off and I think going over there, let's, let's head to that other shore of happiness and meaning in satisfaction and support and friendship and all the things and at some point, ITALY speaking for myself, that short disappears you're still the longboat together in the middle of an ocean and you're, not sure where it's going and you ve lost, and now you in the middle of the sea together, and what do you do? I didn't know any of that when I wrote the book of course, but now I do that it's this more two moment journey. I don't mean to sound cliched and its incredibly intimate incredibly
messy and incredibly powerful, an incredibly mysterious. So that's the person who revise the book was the person who knows that. But there is the book for people considering getting married or entering into a long term relationship or could it be for people already in an unwanted, just sort of get to know each other better or have hard conversation with some sort of structure. It was written for people who are thinking of making a commitment and wanted to do it really responsibly and honestly. But it turns out that since the questions, many questions have no answer or since answers change.
That it has been- I didn't, anticipate this, but it has been really useful for people and longer term relationships who feel stuck on some particular issue whore, who just want to reconnect to go back and answer the questions, and so it's not a different process. Interesting me to answer the questions, although other different context, for it show. How do you recommend do this? That we do one at a time we have some sort of marathon session were where we go through all of them, what your guidance dont like yourself in your basement, and so you can't come out till you answer all these questions. Don't do that. Everyone is different, of course, but my suggestion is just start with five questions. Starquest number one, and then there may be some chapters that you don't need to visit like questions about faith because you share a face, but otherwise, I would say start with
You and take your time Duncan my husband I at the time we're doing this one, lived in New York and other lived in Boston. And so we used the travel time, whether we traveling alone or together today. On the phone or just to talk to each other face to face for these questions, and that was good because there's three hours for five hours if there was a lot of traffic and we knew was going to start we know is going to end. Sometimes we answer questions we went out to dinner. What we never did was like Hayes we're sitting around at home, not doing anything. Let's answer some questions didn't do that we
a little more defined and different people have different tolerance for such conversations, and the person with more tolerance is not the better person back. Titled gets me to what I was glass next, which is a I suspect it might be people as we this road. I dont want to disturb the peace onawandah get into this tough stuff. I want to avoid conflict fair enough, so this is a way to avoid conflict, and I understand that person. I am that person, but the questions in this book or, let's say eighty five percent they're going to come up anyway, and it's better to look at them now. Whenever now is when there's a census- spacious,
this rather than as the point of conflict and if there are questions that are disturbing, triggering dont. Look at them respect yourself, but they are all gonna come up anyway, and probably the most frequently asked questions I've heard is. I want to do this, but my partner doesn't. I want to answer these questions. How can I get my partner to do this? How do you cannot with so retire the question and asking self. Am I willing to be in a relationship with someone who will not discuss the relationship with me, a phrase that questions of it? No answer, but no is appropriate, but do you want to be in a relationship with someone who will not talk to you about the relationship? My answer would definitely be so. Let's talk about some of the topics. Let's start with was diverted the deepened here money. How do you
command, we talk about money because it as I understand it, one of the most contentious and uncomfortable issues in relationships. So, true, that's why this book exists. Is so it's like. Oh it's not me asking the questions. It's this lady, who wrote these questions down. So oh, she says how much money do you have how much debt do have. This port and questions that, if you dont know them going in you'd, be surprised, one way or another. So all these are called the hard questions, not the fun questions, so I hope it is a given that they're not easy, saw the hardest question for by the way was, are we going to keep our money in the same bank account or not and simultaneously? He said, of course- and I said no way I do. I keep my money in the same bank account as you. I have my own business you're, divorced
you have a child? I happened to spend a lot of money on my hair I don't really want to talk about that with you, so that was hard for us and there's no answer of course, but the point to me was: I don't want you up in my girl and the point to him was: are you gonna? Have your own mill Martin in the refrigerator like how are we going to really do this? If we keep our money separately, are you gonna buy the grocers this week and I'm gonna buy the next week to him? The question was: are you in or are you out that is a more important? Can CERN. Then I don't want you to know much. I spend on certain beauty products it had this meaning for him there. Didn't have for me, and then I had not considered. I dont know to him. It was an inn creation of my commitment. So we put our money together from TAT Day to this very day religion. Here there are a few questions in the book that,
I would say our deal breakers and it's really important to know which our deal by four questions for you and religion can be one of them not forever on, but there are People who feel like unless we are the same religion, I can't make a life with you, fair good, so no that about each other, and then there are people, probably at least as many for who have different religions and figure out a way to make it work one of my husband's biggest concerns- and he still says this to me- is I'm not a Buddhist Is there going to be some time when you're gonna wanna leave, because I'm not- and I say I don't think so I'll, let you know But my worry on that and is getting heavy, I know, is we will get old and certainly
we'll die. Then I think it might become something important. I want my death to be attended to according to a buddhist principles, so we have a little contingency plan. You call this person that person and so on. But if it's gonna be a deal braggin, you should not now before your babies and stuff, like that. Another deal, breaker question: just why is? Do you want children. people change their minds, certainly, but that's not something do and then change. One of the couples heard from early on who broke up broke up because one didn't know the other didn't want children And the other one really did so there's just a few questions that I would say our deal breakers and those two children and religion are among them. On myself describes a book,
then the pretty serious about meditation. My wife is definitely sort of Buddhist curious, sore Buddhist inclined, but would not describers offers a Buddhist than meditates Episodical II. It it's not been a problem at all in our without not really in our relationship. She may have a different story on that, but for me it has not been a problem, but I have seen relationships where if one party is really interested in growth, personal growth and the other is not that can create problems. So I'm just curious: how do you manage then? What would you recommend to people? I spectre theirs on trivial percentage of listeners. The show who are really into this stuff and working on themselves training their own mind and there with people who are not interested in and be wondering how to balance that yeah, it's really important point yeah, there's something similar to the question. How can I get this person
Have these conversations with me when I want to and they don't, how can I get them to be interested in personal growth or deepening or exploration if they're not the same answer, you can't you can't the real question, I think, is not. How can I get them to be like this? The real question is: how intimate can we be with each other? How much can we share? How much will this person here listen to me? How much will this person take an interest in me. How much can I show of who I am and how wide what they open to me. If that's there that I think the particulars of lifestyle and how time is spent and how money is spent.
Our secondary saw again? Would you say you can't make them be interested in what you are interested in relationships are really terrifying. Everything's on mine, there is no choice but to be voting. Wake up and go home again be vulnerable today. How I'm gonna be today, when we're gonna feel today, what am I gonna have. The asked to accept predicated on openness and gentleness and vulnerability. I find it's easy. to come up with the reasons not to go forward and I think the real reason most relationships fail. Armchair analysis here based on thing is because we know some day, suburban, do you think, I'm about to say it's gonna end
going to fall out of love, someone's and change their mind, someone's gonna die, which is weirdly. The best case scenario, is a very strange design. This design fly here somewhere and I think when we start to consider what happened try gonna give. Am I really going to commit? Am I and say yes, I will surely if with you, it also means I'm gonna share death with you. We don't really look at that. I understand then we I and others I see just start to throw boulders and the way I you know, the sense of humour don't make enough money or you don't have a practice. Are you
Here this or that those are real things and not preparing them, but is also useful to look just under the surface of those concerns to find, and if there is a little shaking ass human and understandable in your own heart and mind about the potency of intimacy and the unpredictability. Sometimes you may think: well, if the same path, I might be able to predict a little better how we're gonna spend our time or in shock about her. I see us in the future become Bodhisattva or whatever, and you can't hear that won't help just to put too fine a point on the specifics around how to me The approach it if you're in a relationship where you're getting really interested in meditation or personal development, personal growth and the other person isn't tell me if I heard you correctly on this point, the practical advice on the serve narrow
from what you said or what I heard was first, while you can't force them to get interested in whatever you're interested in. But if they're not interested in you, that's a problem. That's it! That's the fine point perfectly said. Thank you. You have to be interested in what I'm interested in, but you do have to be interested in me and if you not, there is a gulf. That can't be bridged. You know interpolating back to events in my life with Bianca. There were moments especially early on where she was three by my burgeoning interest in this meditation thing. When I started going retreats and making new friends and- and that was that was scary to her, but she was. I was very interested in it, even though she what was one of the reasons I should say that she
wasn't meditating is because I was very annoying about in a kind of said. You should do this thing and I got kind of pretty annoying there. So don't do that, my vice and but there the other thing is to choose always interest in what was going on for me. If I wanted to talk about it, she never turned off to that. I've written two books, I'm in the middle of a third she's, deeply deeply involved in helping we write these books. That's fabulous thy will read every page aloud to her, sometimes several times at different stages in the book. So she is. You know my conciliatory no question of Did you bring in the chair to my eye that is so beautiful and is not just really great? It's the best you can ask for from another person to wonder who let you guys have that I do not take it for granted.
to me that fits exactly with what you are recommending. So what if she's not is interested in calling on a ten days out retreat as I am she supportive of my doing it apparent that ITALY, unless annoying since I've started so she's nets? There's no self interest here, but you know anytime, I wanna talk whether stuff she super open to energy, also write books and etc, etc. So makin a force heard, are tried, afore you're which wouldn't work anyway to be you don't try to enter the first stage of enlightenment. That seems like a failing strategy. My husband happens to no boat load about nineteen. Eighty stance already, I was not that interested in Are you I'm not trying to equate these things, but why do I love it now and when he sees something comes across something that's like? Oh, my god, I can't believe this thing was just reissued or this
send just emailed me than I'm just I'm so happy for him, and he just going back for a moment to the word intimacy. He no room, as happens beyond the pale some unearthly round its the closest most of us will ever get to a transcendent. Rome is falling in love, I think, and much of the work working relationship spent try and get back there. I remember that if only we could go back there. Let's have date night and ok good, but you're never going back. There maybe four moments because a dance, but what does an end is intimacy? How much can you show yourself? How much can you know the other person ever get to the end of that it always can go deeper and so to me in writing the hard questions and thinking. Well, what can I commit to inter relationship? I cannot commit to love
or desire or anything about romance, but I can commit to intimacy for my life. That seems honest you're, describing in your writing process of Bianca in her appreciation of what you love, that's intimacy to me, and that's that's what matters? A man once more my conversation with Susan Piper coming up right after this, the hot summer months are here and we need it be proactive to keep our body fuelled up and hydrated making migration a priority helps us feel healthier on a day to day basis and feels ass to be our highest potential. That's where liquid ivy comes in one stick of liquid ivy and sixteen ounces of water hydrates, faster
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Let's do some more hard questions, social media now, my Well, I remember one of the questions I wrote was: how much of our life are we willing to share on social media because there some people who are like nothing and for some people who want to show every full of oatmeal. There are questions mostly relating to privacy, how much privacy do I want? How much do you feel comfortable with and what about pastoralists Ships and people who may friend you or follow your or something there are questions about just what do you feel comfortable with in the world? A social media and those answers certainly.
are very likely to change. A social media just continues to change and get weirder, but basically the questions revival and things like privacy and how much do you feel comfortable sharing? You have thoughts on how we can have these conversations that give us the the highest odds of achieving some serve to understand. That's a really good question here in the book. I try to make recommendations for having the conversation at a time. were you not multitasking in sitting outside together or on a drive together or some space that feels protected to you. What I can suggest or ways to avoid disagreement or embarrassment or discomfort, disagreement, embarrassment, discomfort,
I'm gonna, be there over and over and over again in your relationship. So the thing I can suggest is listening is more important to listen. Then talk, listen, is a very particular skill and in these areas that are fraught with very vulnerable, and am I got if you answer this This way, I'm really scared. What's going to happen to us and so on, we tend to stop listening and instead we listen for I'm listening for this thing. That might make me feel happy, or this thing that might terrify me and when you listen for as opposed to just listening you're, not really listening. You're listening to yourself, which is important precludes meaningful conversation, so the best definition of listening I ever heard through a friend and fellow writer, income,
I'm a cone who said listening is when you stop thinking your thoughts and start thinking mine such a great, brilliant definition so instead of thinking about what I think about what you're saying, I listen to what you're saying and trust you trust myself and give myself to list. That's a very underrated skill and it tends to open meaningful conversation. whether it results in agreement or disagreement? So that's the best suggestion I have is listen and don't listen for and when you notice, you're listening for just try to relax and think I'm going to really get to know this person, not the person. I wish they were
But who they are and there's nothing more loving than that we face constant choices with our loved ones of am I going to do? shoes you or the person I wish you were. Do I choose to love? You or am I going to wait and try to love the person? I hoped you were the more we can choose you cuz, I more love there will be, and I don't mean to sound trite, but often are in most intense relationships. Take the form don't do this to do that, I will try not to hurt you in this way. Those are important things, but when they become centrepiece of the relationship? Rather, then, who are you and can I show you who I am then I dont know what that's called, but I dont think it's called love so anyway, this out your question, I know: is there a way to have these questions that will make them fruitful, I think, was
part of your question and the answer is listen to each other, really listen to each other and then wait and then say what you think I have you heard of reflective listening. I learned this. I've shouted these guys up. for the show, but here I go again damn Carmen and mood data. Mr- are a pair of Buddhist inflected, communications, coaches. I've worked with for nearly three years, and- They have given me many many tools, but the one that I used the most or try to use the most try to remember to use is called reflective. Listening I had heard the advisor. You should be a good listener and you should maybe turn down the volume on your own ego in turn up the volume and other persons, words that sounded good, but I you're a good at doing it, and then I got in my head about what a horrible person I am and I have a retractable John Cloven hooves in blah blah.
Line. So I was very relieved when I got this piece of advice that was very, very actionable from Dan, and would data show somebody's talking if you know how to do reflective list, Now you listen to what they're saying to the best of our ability to be compulsive about it and then, when they are done repeat what they have said in your own words and not in a long way, the phrase them would be to users is just reflect the bones of what they have said. So you might speak for a couple paragraphs about what you're worried about and I can just short of repeated back in a sentence. So that sounds like with the real fear here is x and it does a couple things one for you if Did you to listen, because you gotta be ready to repeat it back in your own language and for them
version whether they are aware or not enough in their. Not it's just deeply satisfying to know that way, you ve said has been heard and absorption, that's beautiful and I love that would deter, means, sympathetic, joy and that just stay as it is so perfect So that sounds great and I'm gonna check them out, and this is a much less elegant way of. that may be doing the same thing. You'll tell me the other day we're gonna fight about something. Can I remember what it is? I cannot but I'll. Was like in this and that in the other thing and I'm very upset- and this really hurt me and when I finished there was a pause and I said and now I need you to say, to me why I'm so upset affected. Well, I mean yes, you are, you are taking the deep need. We all have whether are well aware of it or not, which is too to be. Murder scene, or you know the acknowledged, validated and bless his heart. He did he.
Tell me what he thought about what I said He told me why I was upset in his own words, so I love that I love it. There's a system for it. I would love to learn more about it, yeah for somebody who tens toward the narcissistic talking about myself here it's been a really helpful tool to get me out of my own head and thinking the thoughts of the other person. You become their advocate in somewhat that so true and interestingly, when you stop thinking your thoughts,
The big deal, and you start thinking mine means you let what I'm saying my own thoughts fill you not with an agenda, not picking and choosing, but you actually let them in, and I know about editors and rehabilitation teacher as well as you, there is sometimes the instruction is given observe the breath notice the breath. That's perfectly fine, but there's another instruction that feel the breath feel the body breathe, feel the sensation of breath and there's a sense of not stepping away from myself and looking back at myself, breathing I'm just embodied, I'm feeling it and whatever is removed in the difference between noticing the breath and feeling the bread is
so, let's removed when you listen as opposed to listen for, I think what do you think you're you're, taking yourself out of it and you're completely present at the same time? Yes yards subtraction with edition, then it's a good formula. It's not about me right now, and none of this could happen without me, the other advantage. I found a listening and stating somebody's position back to them, even if I disagree with it actually, especially if I do disagree with it, this is useful work of him in a conflict is that I am less likely to reverse two defensiveness because engaging my prefrontal cortex the serve rational part of my brain. In order to think the thoughts of the other person, if your gauging the prefrontal cortex the amygdala, the reptile brain, the fight or flight part of the brain, has less purchase, so it d escalates, because I'm very good of you,
defensive and so less likely to revert to my power alley, which is fiery defensiveness? That's very interesting. It brings to mind the little known horn, Evian, directional theory. which I don't know anyone would have ever heard of that unless you're really into the underground like I am because sometimes its reference, but they are never in directional theory. something defined by the german psychoanalyst and horn. I, unlike the fifties or something
she positive that there are three primary ways of responding to challenges and one is to be defensive. It's called move against. I'm gonna move against what you're saying, but to try to take it away, but try to discredit it whatever. The second way is to move towards. Oh, it's, ok, we can work it out. Let me let's pacify the situation of. We just sit down and talk about it, we'll figure it out. Ok, it's as much of a defence as moving against, and the third way is called me We just avoid- and I personally have found this theory very useful in my own relationship in general, just to be able to identify my husband moves against that's his first impulse when something is upsetting to him.
Get out of here and I move away. I just withdraw so our fight silken look like this One person chased away or authority over the other, but it's been very helpful and there are questions in the book about fighting styles that arose from this theory. There's really helpful to know which one are you and which went to my so there when he wants to talk about everything get to the bottom of it. Tell me why I'm wrong tell me why you re his problem solving that ology shared with me by what else is called. I define the problem
assign blame problem solved. While I agree with that one, but this deceived really key to in terms of how to have these discussions or just how to have a relationship which is to know what the other person's operating manual is. Absolutely. He felt that when I was doing by avoiding he thought I was like not interested not willing to confront being a wimp just checking out and I thought I was collecting myself and ceasing to dissociate, because it was scary and trying to find when I really thought and felt, and I needed the introvert way to do it. I thought he was getting all up in my face and attacking me and being a bully, and sometimes he was. He thought he was trying to put it on the table. So we can resolve it and love each other
that's what he said, but we learned overtime. Well, ok, I'll stay longer than I feel comfortable. Staying in the conversation and he's learn because his wonderful I'll get a hold my own feelings. Right now I got gotta stay quiet. I got a letter collect herself, so we just sort of move toward each other in these fighting styles under days. Some, cigarettes to explode in the wrong way, but it's been really helpful to find a way to respect the other person's way. I bet if we were to do a longitude, no study of successful relationships, learning to work with then work around the other person's fighting style would be a huge component. I totally agree, and the fighting styles can look really different when he gets angry. He you just feel heat his face,
thread he is voice, gets louder. When I get angry, I get cold and they're both for ways of being angry. Her to understand or you're angry, it looks like coldness when you do it, it looks like keep. When I do. You have used the word throughout this conversation, many times discomfort and you wrote a column and excellent column in the ten percent happier news letter. Thank you now you for doing it, and you entitled, I believe, the magic of discomfort. What do you mean by that? You blew? It seems that relationships are extremely uncomfortable and They are uncomfortable. If you ve never met the person, does you're afraid like what, if they dont like me, what if they do like me, its outcome or even when you fall in love as wonderful and powerful and beautiful as it is because every
so meaningful and you think, or why they. Let me that, where why did they not do this? You think maybe the whole thing's falling part very uncomfortable, And then, in long term relationships the discomfort looks like irritation. It's very strange. Have you come with these lofty, very powerful, very real heart intentions to just love and respect and support this person.
And then they come home and they put their coat somewhere weird and you get all pissed off. What's up with that that there's just this perpetual irritation in living with someone, it's uncomfortable to acknowledge that keeps you on your toes. It keeps you open. It keeps you relating to the living aspect of the relationship with less and less so to the let's just nail it down in this perfect picture mode. It keeps you awake. It requires a lot of presence of mind to work with it. Let me not blow up. Let me actually make this point right now. Is I'm tired of this? It keeps you present and all the magic that there could be in our experience and that's a big statement is only in the present
so there's some sense that I'm never gonna get comfortable here, never gonna get comfortable, I'm gonna have to stay awake, I'm gonna have to stay tuned, I'm gonna have to realize. I don't know, what's gonna happen next, those are good conditions for deepening love. Another useful thing about knowing it's gotta be uncomfortable is that when it inevitably becomes uncomfortable, you might not tell yourself a story well, this is all jacked up. This is the way it supposed to be So true, there's some kinds of discomfort you shouldn't do that with. I always feel obligated to say that discomforts related to abuse or addiction. Those things are different category, but the other normal and normal. irritations or discomfort can range from. Why did you put your coat there? I'm fixated on the goat right now and you know
You didn't tell me you can have gender reassignment surgery in those are there's a big spectrum there, but those are not abuse or addiction, so it's always gonna happen and then, when it does, you can think just as you say, while this may mean things, this is not the right relationship for me, but this doesn't mean that what's happening, that this relationship is wrong and I find that really really helpful. Personally, as we wind down here, let's hit a few more hard topics. How do you recommend we talk about politics in this fraud? God I'm? I could answer that I would run for political office or what the question? What are the hard questions we put on the table. Do we share a political ideology? Does it matter to you who I vote for and if not right now, do imagine a time that it could present a problem. You don't want
years ago those weren't questions from most people there, it may be interesting, are useful, but they weren't life and death. The way they are now another question that is worth considering is due either I have friends or family who support a political or social ideology that runs counter to what we believe: So how are we going to remain in relationship with them or not? We all have friends who, you're, the opposite or family members who were like did the thing. That is the bad bad thing, but we wish no one ever did whatever that might be, so those weren't conversations that I think we're having twenty years ago. I don't think so at this point, it's very useful to consider those things food. There are some people who feel that the whole relationship is built around dinner. I mean I'm exaggerating, but we have dinner together. We go out for dinners if we can afford to.
Having meals together, is a critical part of what it means to have a home life together relationship and not everyone feels that way. So those are just reasonable questions to ask, but there are questions about like the organism or vegetal. Racism, there's an ethical component to the way we may eat or shop or prepare food that if one feels one way and it's not shared it's not so much about food. It's about what can I live in a house where someone cooks meat when I'm a vision, because it Just make me feel like. I can't eat dinner with you, but it's like a whole different way of looking at the world and I'm not a vague and or vegetarian, but I've certainly seen and spoken to many people from this question is
deal breaker, I'm a vague and I were committed Carnivore six year old, bacon, famine. It's been totally fine for our relationship, although he sometimes try shove the bacon into my mouth. I can get a little trick you now you took sex out of the boy. Why? Because what we know about sex? The questions were stupid in the first edition, and you know. it's. This is something that is just so personal, so particular so individual. It doesn't make sense for some stranger to come up up to you with a bunch of questions that you should ask what your sex life and, just personally, I find that conversations about sex are only so helpful Sexual connections, the sexual, whatever it is that you have with another person that seems to be a better way to work. Things out is in the doing,
if I may say, rather than the reflecting its also the one area that is subject to like fleeting change. Just things can change and keep changing its, probably the most tangible. Another thing that's important to note about sex is it needs protection? It's not the kind of thing that you can talk about like it about food and money. It puts it in and around that's too prosaic and to conventional and it needs its own crucible and that crucible look different for each person, for each couple saw it fell to me like questions about sex, would be intruding on a very personal crucible where sex and desire seem to flourish.
say one final thing and then them will wrap up. I write memoirs for a living inside and take it a little bit about, stage in my life, where I was getting very, very entered ed early on in meditation and really wanted to progress in meditation, but was not really eager or willing to look at the messy aspects of my own relationships, and that was holding me back for making progress in meditation. And so I wonder if you think this is a Not uncommon pitfall saw what comes, to my mind, is meditation in my experience doesn't care what you're willing to look at and unwilling to look at, as you said you soften Softened here doesn't mean like everything's fine, I feel great, it means allowing
so myself as I am, and I'm going to allow myself to be, as I am in this moment in this moment, that's actually practice so whether you want this happen or not. Your heart starts to kind of melt and you start to feel more vulnerable. You start to feel more because the walls to come down and when the wall comes down, anything can come in and touch you. So you're unwilling to look at you can't avoid seeing. further, as you know in your writing about this, I happen to know meditation in the style of the whip. The generally speaking is famously associated with compassion and that's not an accident, like how a sitting there doing nothing to make me more compassionate. This is why
softening an opening happens, so compassion presents itself organically. sometimes it looks like I really care about this other persons experience. Sometimes it looks like crying for yourself over past wounds, but the heart just wakes up so you can try to avoid relationship problems and being a jerk, whatever it is that we all are from time to time, but your practice won't. Let you get very far with that. It will keep sourcing more loving, kindness, more compassion, more sympathetic, joy and more equanimity, and it might take us by surprise. It took me by surprise and then all the relationships that you're in our FED into that cauldron of the confusion and power and potency and messages of an open heart
and you see more clearly before we go. Can you just remind everybody in the name of the book, any other books that we should look at all the places we can find you on the entire webs plug? Please thanks if you, Google, my name Susan Piper or open heart project, your fine My world online. My new book is called the hard questions, a hundred essential questions too, before you say I do, although one hundred and thirty now I've written two other books about relationships that I want to offer in case, they could be useful. One of them is called the four noble truths of love buddhist wisdom for modern relationships and it really jealous deeper into some of the things we were talking about here. How can my meditation practice support me in my relationships and I also wrote a book called the wisdom of a broken heart and
that's the book. Then I get the most communication about to this very day, spin out for ten years and its about how to work with heartbreak as a practice not to feel bad or make it everything. Ok, but tremendous wisdom is invoked when ones hardest broken. So that's what that book is about citizen fibre. Thank you very much. Thank it in thanking the Susan always grated, to her, don't forget to join the taming anxiety challenge in the ten percent happier app download the ten percent happier app wherever you get your apps to join that challenge by June twenty fourth, this show is made by say drowns Dj Kashmir can buy comma Maria were tell and Jan Boy POI plant, colored boy, audio engineering comes from ultraviolet audio, this great folks over there and as always, shut out to my ear
news, friends and comrades rang Kessler. Inject co head will see well on Friday right here for a bonus with Leslie Booker. The meditation teacher who is featured in our taming, sadly challenge there was up everybody. This is Elsie Grandison here to tell you about my new podcast made easy audio called life outline. This show is all about preserving the history and honouring the contributions of the odes beating you community each week, I'll talk to some of the most fascinating people, paving the way for a more inclusive world. These conversations can get heavy, but this shows also gummy. Bill was so much joy and I mean after we are car gay people, rights of gaddi some happiness in there somewhere check out life out loud with me, Elsie Grandison, wherever you get your pockets.
Transcript generated on 2021-07-21.