Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Just Relax - and other unhelpful suggestions

Just Relax

...and other unhelpful suggestions.

As you know by now, I sometimes work as a doula. This year, I had a realization while sitting at a kitchen table with a couple of clients. I always ask how women think they wanted to be supported in labor, and if there are things they don't want me to say. Like most of my clients, she knew little about what she wanted.

And exactly what she didn't want.

"You always tell me to relax." She said to her husband. "DON'T TELL ME TO RELAX!"

(I may have done the same thing a few thousand times myself).

Her husband shot back that sometimes that was what she needed. They volleyed back and forth for a little while and some little nugget of realization came to me, so I shot it out there. I think I interrupted.

"What do you want him to say?" I blurted.

"I don't know, just don't say relax."

THIS IS THE AMAZING THING THAT CAME THROUGH ME LIKE I WAS SPEAKING IN TONGUES ---> So when he says relax, what he is saying is, "I have no idea what to say right now, since you don't know what you want me to say, so until then I'm going to keep saying the word 'relax' which means [space filler for the right thing]."

This experience changed my life.

First, I have realized that all annoying things ever are simply the annoying person trying to do their best in the absence of clear direction. If you don't state your expectations or needs or desires, how can anyone ever (ever) hope to meet them?

Second, instead of saying "relax" or "I'm sorry to hear that" or fill-in-the-blank, I now say, "let's pretend I'm saying the exact right thing in this moment, because I have no idea what that exact right thing is. If you know, tell me and I'll say it. Otherwise, please hear my intention, which is to be for you whatever it is you need in this moment."

(It's a little longer than 'relax').

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