How to Ease Stress by Getting Along with Your Partner Better

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Since I’m trying to recover from Fibromyalgia (includes Chronic Fatigue) which is directly linked to stress, I’ve been thinking about how I can reduce my stress even more.  At this point, I’m not working, so that is a big ease on my Adrenal Cortex and HPA Axis (the parts of us that react to stress by producing adrenaline and cortisol).

One thing I’ve been thinking about is all of the stupid bickering fights I have with FH (Fabulous Husband). He really is fabulous, yet I still fight with him.  I am REACTIVE to lots of things he says and does. FH is an absentminded wonderful creative artist and loses things a lot. Creativity often goes hand-in-hand with absentmindedness and when you love someone, and love their creativity, you have to learn to live with the absentmindedness that may come along with it.

Up until now, one stressor for me is when FH can’t find his you-name-it and I get stressed because he’s stressed. I’m annoyed that he can’t find it, that he’s huffing and puffing and frustrated. Part of me wants to help and part of me is so tired of looking for his daily lost items that I feel like saying, “find it your own damn self.” Usually I just get agitated, try to act like I’m helping and not feeling frustrated myself. But underneath, I’m stressed. Usually we have some stupid bickering conversation like “Where did you see it last?” “If I knew that I wouldn’t be looking for it, would I?” “Well, did you retrace your steps?” Our voices start getting that snarky tone, and eventually one of us says “ugh” at the other one and we are suddenly on opposite sides. We don’t even know what we’re on opposite sides of. This is very stupid. We are really not stupid people.

FH gets over stresses like this in about two minutes, but I can be out of sorts for an hour over something like this.  If the bickering escalates, it can put me in a bad mood all day. This is very bad for my body. He sometimes gets worried that I’m going to get in a bad mood all day, and that fear fuels some of his nasty bickering words. I sometimes fear he’ll turn out just like my dad and that fear fuels some of my nasty bickering words.

Is he going to stop misplacing his stuff? Is he going to follow my suggestion to, “always put your keys in the same place?” No. He is who he is, and that’s okay.  If he wants to change his behavior, he can.

My part in it (we always have to look at ourselves, right? Can’t change anyone else) is that I REACT. I am now working on not REACTING. Just breathe. Stay in my body, feel my feet. Notice if I’m feeling fearful and thinking that this will turn into a huge fight, that he will blow up like my father always did, that this is a problem I can’t tolerate and we’ll eventually separate over this. If I find I am fearful and thinking these stress-heightening thoughts, then I talk back to them in my mind, “this is no big deal. He’ll find it. He’s only momentarily frustrated. It will pass in a few minutes if you don’t react. You don’t have to help him. You can help him if you feel you want to, but you don’t have to help him because you’re afraid he’ll blow up at you if you don’t. Breathe. Just breathe. Don’t get frustrated just because he’s frustrated. Nothing bad is going to happen.” Then I attempt to hear the doors to my personal space (aura if you want to call it that) closing.  Keeping his feelings separate from mine.

Side note:  It’s a little hard to close off your aura if you’re especially empathic like me, but so worthwhile (many empaths use visuals like imagining a bubble of white light around them to keep other people’s feelings outside, that never worked for me, but imagining the sound of my personal space’s doors closing does work).

There are other similar scenarios not involving lost items, but I’m working on using this non-reactive-self-talk-breathing strategy for all of them. Yesterday was bicker-free!

Do you have situations with your partner where reactivity causes bickering, arguing, fights? Do you use any strategies? Please share!

Photo101Rehab note:  I added text and cropped this photo in PicMonkey. I thought it fit the theme because the white roses, which are a little withered, and the bricks made me think of home, and how everything in the home can be fine, beautiful, and still never perfect.

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Cloudy Day at Oyster Bay

Dog walks in nature are good.  Crazy puppy can be off leash and risk sticking his nose in gopher holes.  Pupper runs and leaps, skips and jumps.The moment I try to photograph the Peregrine Falcon, he flies from his perch.  The thorned pod reminds me that Autumn is here, and the red berries, that Christmas is on the way.

A friend recently lost her pet.  I said, “when Krishna died I was so brokenhearted.  Like he, and only he knew me the best. Deeper than humanity.”

She said, “Right.  You nailed it.”

Got me to thinking about a favorite poem.

WILD GEESE

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

I love the line, “you only have to let the soft animal of your body/ love what it loves.”

Mystical Mystery of the Heart Sutra and Letting Go

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I have a mash-up religion. I was raised Catholic, practiced Buddhism and Yoga for many years, and feel connected to spirit, God, The Universe, whatever you call what can’t really name or understand. So I will chant many prayers and mantras to myself, The Hail Mary, the Mantra of Lakshmi, and the Heart Sutra are three of my favorites. I’m not really into the dogma, just the practice.  Just the letting go, feeling safe.

The message of the Heart Sutra mantra is “Gone, gone, all the way gone, over to the other side, enlightenment, Hallelujah.” There are so many translations of it. The essence is that of letting go and finding peace and enlightenment. A mystery:  how we suffer, why we suffer, how we can alleviate suffering, what’s it all for?

One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chodron, explains it a lot better than I can. She says it like this:

THE HEART SUTRA

A teaching on the Sutra of the Heart of Transcendent Knowledge

 

It’s in this process of muddling along — it’s in all the falling down — that the courage and the kindness and the compassion and the strength really comes. And the flexible mind.

 

Then he [Rinpoche] goes on and he talks about the mantra. And the mantra is: OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA.

In other words, a way to practice the profound prajnaparamita is actually to say this mantra — as well as the on-going practice of continually letting go, or letting be, training in a flexible, open,ready mind. But also, one can chant this mantra.

 

By the way, there’s a lot of teaching on the prajnaparamita, and I’m not going to go into all of that. Some of them are very, very long — twenty thousand lines and so forth. But the pith of it, the heart of it, is in this sutra. That’s why it’s called the Heart Sutra because it’s like the pith of all these teachings on prajnaparamita.

 

Then it’s said that the pith, or the heart, of the Heart Sutra is the mantra. That everything that is said in this whole sutra is actually reiterated and encapsulated in the mantra.

Rinpoche’s translation is: OM, GONE (GATE is gone), GONE, (then PARAGATE) GONE BEYOND, (PARASAMGATE) GONE COMPLETELY BEYOND, (BODHI) AWAKE, (SVAHA) SO BE IT. So: OM, GONE, GONE, GONE BEYOND, GONE COMPLETELY BEYOND, AWAKE, SO BE IT.

 

There’s lots of translations of this, and one is: OM, TRANSCENDING, EVER TRANSCENDING, TRANSCENDING EVEN TRANSCENDING, TRANSCENDING EVEN TRANSCENDING OF TRANSCENDING, SUCHNESS, SO BE IT.

 

What is wonderful about this mantra is that it is not a description of some fruition. It’s actually a description of a journey that we are all on. We are all on this journey of going, going, going beyond going even beyond.

No matter where we are, we can move on to the next beyond. Do you see? It’s not a description of: I made it! It’s like this! It’s a description of: OM, groundless, even more groundless, can it get moregroundless than this, Oh my gosh, it’s ultimately groundless, there’s no ground!, and then BODHI could be translated as Aiiiiiiiii….. [or…. Ahhhhhhhhh…] So be it. [laughter]

 

Pema Chodron

from Shambhala.org