Sometimes we need to let off a little steam. At other times, we need to let off a lot of steam.
Yesterday, my wife needed to let off a lot of steam. I listened intently, and when asked, provided my feedback. She didn’t particularly want to hear what I had to say (or at least that was my interpretation), but I shared my thinking in a way that was supportive of her, and sought to clarify what was going on.
One lesson I learned about myself during this was that I tend to be patient.
To a point, anyway.
My wife was really getting heated, and after hearing her expand on what occurred multiple times, I felt that I needed to separate a bit from the conversation.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to listen, or that I didn’t understand her need to vent, but she was getting stuck on the same ideas, ideas which we had discussed multiple times on the phone and then later in person. I felt myself drifting to my phone and breaking eye contact (which wasn’t good on my part). And, I tried to help her summarize next steps and move away from the issue, but to no avail.
Eventually she ended up walking away and chatting with her mom (often we need multiple people to hear us vent to bring us down to where we need to be). Unfortunately, I now felt anxious and worked up; she had defused some of her frustration onto me (as is a key part of relationships . . .we have to help others get to where they want to be, even if that means we absorb for them).
One of my key learnings last night was in better understanding how I can be a challenge for people when I get stuck on ideas. Like with my wife in this instance, I sometimes perseverate, and I rarely consider how repeating the same issue over and over can have an impact on others. Sitting there and trying to help my wife taught me that I need to understand that once I’ve played through a scenario, in fairness, I have to let it go, or move on to share my thinking with someone else. Otherwise, I’m apt to frustrate others, when all I really want to do is bring myself back down to normalcy (or as close as I can get, anyway)!