Words are powerful. They activate emotion states, or neurotransmitters. This means words have the power, to the extent they activate your imagination, one of the most powerful capacities, to shape your life and relationships.
When it comes to persons we cherish, for example, the power of words can be used to either build or tear down.
If you understand power as a perception, and your words as pure emotion-activating power that, accordingly, manipulate perceptions of yourself and in your mind, you realize that, at any given moment, you always have a choice to empower your heart and your partner’s to synergistic action, or not.
And so does your partner.
This choice is an option to take your mind, emotions and body in one of two directions, overall fear or love, depending on what part of the autonomic nervous system they switch on, parasympathetic or sympathetic.
When you realize you always have a choice to emote words or actions that “move” you (and your partner) to action primarily from emotions of fear — or love — then you understand pure power is always a choice, and breath away for each.
The power of inspiring one another’s heart is much more likely to get the love you want in your relationship.
Here are four steps to amp up the synergy of heart-power in your couple relationship:
First, understand fear as an action signal and teacher.
When fear comes up, it’s helpful to think of it as communication from your body or wise self, a call to action. As an action signal, fear is designed to be a teacher. It reminds you to pause and reflect, to clarify and connect inside, to better understand your needs, yearnings, wants, lessons from past experiences, and more.
In a couple relationship, the capacity of each partner to regulate own fear is prerequisite to being present to know and understand the other.
Fear is an opportunity to listen and tune in more closely. It may be a call to take a seemingly small action, such as to become aware of your self-talk, emotions, physical sensations and actions; and how these are designed to work together. Whether conscious and subconscious, thoughts have the power to activate or block emotions and actions accordingly. The intensity you feel depends on the level of fear — or love — hormones that is released in the bloodstream.
This challenging emotion can be seen as an invitation to explore learned patterns in childhood that once protected you, but no longer serve you. It’s often the case, by the way, that the emotions that most trigger you or your partner are often the same ones that were scary for your parents to handle. Some parents are triggered by emotions of strength, such as anger, autonomy, disappointment, determination, for example, and others by emotions of vulnerability, i.e., hurt, sadness, anxiety, and so on.
Seen this way, fear can guide each partner to know and form a deeper relationship with own inner self, mind and body, heart and brain and gut.
These are highly ingrained patterns, however, so naturally it’s easier said than done. You and your partner learned to enter these places to protect yourselves when you felt fearful or scared as small children. You learned to tell yourselves certain “stories” about these situations. These early interpretations, however, can limit the possibilities for growth and change in later adult relationships.
The impact of parents is enduring; you can either fight this reality; or allow yourself to learn and grow your courage and authentic self. A common pattern in a couple relationship, for example, is that one partner emotionally shuts down when the other partner brings up an issue.
You have a choice to replace this pattern; the path to lasting change is first learning to “get comfortable with what’s uncomfortable” — and upsetting or uncomfortable feelings, even stress and anger, are all rooted in core fears, such as inadequacy, rejection, and so on.
When fear rears its head, the winning argument can be to respond by being present in mind and body, an essential first step to better understand self and other, to empathize, validate one other’s feelings and wants, and so on. Because the arguments we form internally, when fear shows up, are often riddled with inconsistencies, the best “argument” is to practice being present to your own fear, asking for a moment of silence when needed, going within to better understand self as a means of better understanding the other.
No argument is more powerful than offering one another a caring presence. It is also the most powerful way to support yourself, or your partner to become aware of, possibly let go of, a fear-triggering argument that no longer serves you.
Second, resolve to never let fear take over your imagination.
When issues surface, whether big or small, you need your wise-self in charge of your thoughts and words, feelings and actions. Otherwise, fear can take over by automatically switching on the survival response of the autonomic nervous system (in which case, the thinking part of the brain, or frontal cortex, goes offline).
You know when fear is in charge of your mind and body because it feels like you’re in a rabbit hole where everything seems dark, and the world unfriendly, scary. This survival-love fear makes you believe, for example, that you are powerless, that your “resources are limited” or that your partner is an enemy and you’d “better get first before they get you” and so on.
Fear-based energy, rooted in limiting beliefs, is a power that can lead you and your partner to say and do things that are not in the interest of your relationship and one another.
Rather than shrink from the discomfort or pain of fear, opt to transform fear to powerful energy that moves you to shift away from reactivity toward mindful choices. Invite your partner to do the same! It will take both of you working together. The winning argument here is an act of courage; hard work. If you normally do not stand up for yourself to state your bottom line, do so, for example, tell your partner to talk to you as if you’re someone they love (regardless whether they are upset).
New actions, consciously taken, that go opposite old emotion-states of fear are what transform fears to assets. This process supports your growth as individuals and a couple.
Keep in mind however that you’re internal self talk and early experiences has trained subconscious mind to believe you absolutely need certain defense strategies to physically survive! (Because you did early in life!) Your subconscious will require much evidence and work on your part before it is fully persuaded to change or let go of old behaviors or beliefs that once served and protected you, kept you alive.
If you’re serious about making changes, you need to build a relationship with your subconscious mind. It’s in charge of forming and changing habits, and in charge of your drives to survive and thrive.
It’s worthwhile, but not easy to balance giving each other mutual love offerings of understanding, to support both to attain what you each most want or need. It will challenge you to take the reins of your imagination. And this requires consistent effort.
Holding the reins of your imagination is pure power. It will involve unlearning old thought patterns by shifting to new empowering ones. This is leverage you need to make lasting change. You shift to seeing the world as a miraculous place of wonder, inspiration and infinite possibilities, and energize compassion for your partner and your self. The sky is the limit.
And the real reason you work hard to form a collaborative relationship with your self and one another is not just to make you stronger, better, smarter, happier as individuals and together. It is because it takes two to tango! It’s not cliche. A vibrant relationship is impossible for one partner to achieve without the other.
Third, shift away from bullying to inspiring partnership and teamwork.
Building a healthy relationship with another human being is a complex endeavor! It is a balancing act of sorts in which partners choose to grow and learn, and in the process of strengthening their relationships, get to know self and other better along the way.
In order for each to speak their truth in an argument, each must retain their own sense of personal power, and agency.
Partners tend to repeat mistakes their parents made by using the same tactics their parents used to influence one another, you and your siblings.
For example, when fear shows up, they may resort to:
- Force, bullying, making the other feel bad (rather than inspire or engage cooperation and teamwork as valued partners).
- Punitive tactics to obtain silence and obedience (rather than seek to mutually understand, inspire, grow and work as a team).
- Gaslighting to reinforce subservience to one-sided entitlements (rather than encourage agency in both self and other).
- Emotional-taboo shaming, guilting, etc., to suppress emotions of vulnerability for men, and emotions of strength for women (rather than open, connected, wholehearted expression).
Our culture trains us by parenting practices used in childhood to employ tactics of shame, intimidation and guilt to get obedience without questioning. We’ve come a long way perhaps, yet men are still overall expected to dominate, and women to be selfless in the care of others, not themselves.
These cultural beliefs come with high costs to a couple relationship. They socialize men and women, respectively, to get stuck in the toxic, yet “complimentary” dynamics of narcissism-codependency. This “dance” sets partners up to experience increasingly high levels of fear, and toxicity from unrealistic fantasies and expectations. It often leads both partners to feel like failures, unfilled, unhappy and, or unloved.
The weakest arguments are ones that fuel fears to toxic levels, and take the form of contests, debates, competitions that divide and dehumanize human beings. They can also escalate into hostile attacks and hatreds, threatening the life of others.
No winning solution is possible, when the personal agency and yearnings of one person are sacrificed for the other.
No matter how logical an argument, if one partner comes to feel they are getting the short end of the stick, or being asked to act against their own behalf, both will lose with high costs to their relationship.
To mediate differences, for example, partners need to understand that, regardless what the problem is, the use of blame, belittling, character attacks, and so on, are damaging, at best counterproductive. Anything that blocks access to your or the other’s heart and mind always is!! (Unless there is an imminent physical threat, i.e., a real lion or tiger around!)
Trying to aim for a target goal with punitive tactics is like aiming an arrow at the air. Be aware also that complaining and arguing can be addictive, a habitual way of relating to the world. Resolve to do your part to disallow this toxicity.
It’s okay. It may not be easy, however, human beings have powerful inner resources to handle and grow from these experiences. It’s how we learn. No growth occurs without pain, discomfort.
Getting comfortable with what expands our capacity to love self and the other is the path to vibrant relationships.
Regardless of gender or age, or any other variable for that matter, all human beings need to feel they matter, valued and loved. Each partner yearns to feel heard, understood and validated, to know they can trust the other to treat them with dignity and thoughtfulness regardless whether they may feel triggered.
Partners greatest need in this process, however, is to learn to give this love and support to themselves. It won’t work to depend and fault the other when we do not feel happy. Partners need to reject the socialization that leads them to look for happiness and worth in the eyes or attention or “love” of another. Infants and small children depend on this to survive. As adults, partners need to let go of childhood expectations.
The real winning argument here is an offering of mutual understanding of one another’s wants and yearnings, dreams and aspirations. It is a presence of love that is expressed first and foremost by conscious actions that convey a partner’s intentions, at any given moment, to treat both self and the other with dignity, thoughtfulness, and to remain an assuring presence that promotes a sense of safety, trust and mutual support.
Four, set an intention for conscious actions to consciously follow your bliss.
The universe loves the synergy of partnerships. One partner plus one partner working together equates to far better outcomes than two individuals apart.
For partners to really win at the game of love and relationships, and energize the synergy of heart power, it’s a continual journey of growing and learning, and building wisdom and compassion for self and the other. That sounds like work! And work can be a turn off.
Yet you and your partner are wired to feel happy about yourself and like, regardless what is imperfect or not working well around you!
Research shows that happy persons make two lifestyle choices. First, a decision to protect and feel happy overall regardless what is going on around them. And, second, a practice gratitude that keeps them feeling good and thankful even as they aspire for changes and improvements, or higher goals.
These two practices, in short, keep them following their bliss. Wittingly or not, they’ve learned to protect themselves from unhelpful levels of elevated fear, which not only harms physical and emotional health, it also shuts down the reflective thinking processes of our brains, thus the ability for making optimal choice, and so on.
As partners, clarify and share a vision that inspires you both to grow heart-power synergy in your relationship. Brainstorm conscious ways you each take action, some small steps, if only a smile, to reinforce the positive direction you yearn to take or goal to realize.
Happy partners are happy individuals, period. They realize that, to really win, you must support your partner to also win and have what they want and need. In other words, they have more opportunities to feel good because they also feel good about their partner feeling happy.
By the way, this doesn’t mean you always get what you want or need from the other. That’s not realistic or healthy; it’s a formula for getting stuck waiting for all the stars to align before allowing self to feel happy and grateful. Life does not work that way.
What it does mean is that, regardless of what is not working, you both can amp down the focus on “problems” and simultaneously, amp up the focus on your bliss, and making solutions of love — believing and confidence, enthusiasm and tenderness, compassion and gratitude — be part of problem solving.