Monday, June 14, 2010

I think she's taking him for a ride

Hi Edahn,

I have 2 friends in a long distance relationship. One is in the military and is currently living out of his car to pay his girlfriends rent. We were all visiting each other recently and they were fighting over money. She can be very persuasive and controlling and I'm worried about him getting taken advantage of. How can I talk to them without making them feel like he is being subservient and she is being selfish? I don't want to lose either one of them as friends. Thank you! 
I'm not sure talking is the way to go. My approach would be more to bring them to a place of honesty, calmness, and responsibility. That "place" is a state of mind I've been referring to as Rest. Other people might call it a "still point." When you're not rushing to do something and face the person you are right now without panicking, your body calms down, your mind calms down, your eyes become "soft" and your heart opens up. If you've been taken advantage of, or been taking advantage of someone else, you'll know it and make a change.

As a friend, the best way to help another person achieve that state is to achieve it yourself because one of the great things about Rest is that it's contagious. When you meet someone who is honest, calm, and open, you naturally absorb those qualities. 

There are lots of ways to move into the Restful state of mind. If you've meditated for a while, you may have gotten a good taste of it, but even if you haven't, you've probably experienced it and seen it a bunch of times. In my next post, I'll give you some of my personal techniques and tips, but for now, I would just focus on ridding yourself of anger and judgment. Contemplate peace and be a source of peace for everyone around you. You can picture yourself sitting with your friends, staying calm and peaceful, but still listening and being engaged. You can even imagine people around you starting to calm down. If you can explore that image and commit yourself to it, even for a trial period, you'll be in great shape. Eventually, your calmness and integrity will start to spill over and your friends will start to transform, slowly entering a place where they can address this issue correctly.


Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your answers, but this one seems silly to me. The way to let this couple resolve their issues is to become stoic and restful around them, smile and nod, don't get upset, and your calmness will transfer over to them? No way! They will become suspicious as to why you are acting weird, this couple will never become honest with each other through the reader's "restful" state. The answer could be, don't meddle with other's relationships, or let it resolve itself. But meditate on it?

edahn said...

Sounds like you're itching for a little debate. I'll accept.

Stoic and restful, smiling and nodding with a complacent smile is not really being restful; it's being fake. Fakeness is not what we're after. What we're after is honesty, understanding, reflection, and the calmness that it induces. You do that by being honest yourself and understanding yourself. You might be skeptical, but I'll ask you this: what do you think therapy is really about? In successful therapy, the therapist builds an environment of understanding, reflection, and authenticity, and that environment--that space--gives room for the patient to explore true feelings and deal with them wisely. The therapist holds that space open or teaches the patient how to hold space open themselves.

Take a minute and think about what happens on this blog. It's the same thing. Sometimes I tell people what to do, and sometimes I offer interpretations, but the real work is holding space for people and showing them how to hold it themselves with a combination of honesty, humor, and understanding. It creates an environment for people to drop their games, be honest about what's happening, and try and make a wise decision in their lives. I'm basically asking this person to take my role and offer help in an oblique way.