Nothing is Apparent

Nothing is Apparent

Syn­op­sis: Noth­ing is Appar­ent to any­one else, and most stuff isn’t even appar­ent to you!

Psst!! Hey!!!

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The book most close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with this arti­cle is The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.


One of the biggest mistakes people make when relating is assuming… well… pretty much everything.

Noth­ing, though, is obvi­ous, and often, what’s “obvi­ous” to you real­ly isn’t, so how on earth could some­one else fig­ure out what is unclear to you?

But I was going to write that many peo­ple assume that their part­ner can under­stand them with­out assis­tance. And this is espe­cial­ly so when we get to non-ver­bal “com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

Many are the times when I’ve seen peo­ple do stuff like: roll their eyes, or sigh dra­mat­i­cal­ly, or walk away.

Great, just great.

So, what, real­ly, is the mes­sage in the eye-roll, or the sigh, and what is meant by aban­don­ing ship and head­ing off to the bed­room, there to sulk and sigh some more?

Who knows?

Maybe not even you, even when you’re doing it.

I think that the Zen posi­tion for life and relat­ing is “I don’t know.” Because I don’t.

Now, I might be dumb enough to think I have answers about you, but even if my guess was right about “you,” it was noth­ing more than a lucky guess.

One friend slams doors when she’s try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate that she is mad, or is think­ing she’s being ignored / neglect­ed, or when she has an agen­da and oth­ers aren’t coop­er­at­ing with it–-with her timetable, for exam­ple. Those are just three times or sit­u­a­tions when door slam­ming seems, to her, to be appro­pri­ate.

Let’s just stick with the obvious for a minute.

How would the per­son wit­ness­ing her “snit” have a clue which of her issues she had set her­self off over? “It should be obvi­ous from the con­text” is not an answer. All the observ­er knows is that straw per­son is slam­ming a door.

It gets even weirder

If her part­ner does make the mis­take of guess­ing, she then can blame her part­ner for not guess­ing cor­rect­ly! “We’ve been togeth­er for [fill in the blank] and if he loved me [prop­er­ly, accord­ing to my def­i­n­i­tion] he would know!” And, he’s the bad guy because he didn’t read her mind!

Weird, right?

But sad­ly com­mon. This whole, “It should be obvi­ous” thing comes in many flavours, and I see it and hear about it often, and remem­ber tons of exam­ples from my clients.

The one that I really didn’t get was walking away when in the middle of something.

run­ning away

Of course, peo­ple would defend them­selves by say­ing, “I was angry [or going to cry, or what­ev­er] so I walked away.” And I’d say, “And after you calmed your­self back down, and came back, did you resolve the issue?”

Blank look. Then, “Well, I was in my room for an hour, and then it was sup­per time, so I made [ate] din­ner, but we [sur­prise, sur­prise] nev­er talked about it again.”

Oh, goodie.

What a great plan! Sulk, slink off, make din­ner, don’t talk, and then do it all over again the next time. And in the mean time, the rela­tion­ship stays stuck, and actu­al­ly sinks a bit into the quick­sand of non-direct com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

I was talk­ing about this with Dar­bel­la, and we were grin­ning over our own dumb strate­gies. We agreed that the rea­son for our 38 years of suc­cess­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion is our will­ing­ness to over­look each oth­ers’ games.

To wit: I tend to act like a spoiled 8‑year-old, while Dar defaults to pulling in and curl­ing up in a ball.

Left to our own dumb­ness, I’d be rant­i­ng while she was hid­ing under some­thing.

Not help­ful.

Our “rule” is, it takes one adult. By this we mean that, when one or the oth­er of us pulls some­thing that might take us off top­ic, it only takes one of us to stop the drift. The few times we’ve had “fights” is when nei­ther of us would stop being an idiot long enough for an “adult” to show up.

  • My friend needs to stop sulk­ing, slam­ming, and yelling. She needs to say, “I’m anger­ing myself right now, so excuse me for 5 min­utes while I pound a mat­tress, and I’ll come back and we can pick up where we left off.” [IMPORTANT! In this and the next one, notice the 5 minute time lim­it!!!]
  • Run-aways say, “I’m upset, and I want to go to my room for 5 min­utes, to calm myself. Then, I’ll be back, and we can talk.”
  • The “eyes and sighs” crowd: “I notice I just sighed and rolled my eyes, as opposed to express­ing what is real­ly up for me. Let me have a breath [not a sigh!] and then tell you what’s up for me.”

Because, see, non-verbal communication is always useless.

  • It’s not up to your part­ner to fig­ure out why you are pass­ing metaphor­i­cal gas, as opposed to using your big per­son words.
  • It’s not up to your part­ner to fig­ure out that your com­ment about being ignored is real­ly about your con­cerns for the longevi­ty of the rela­tion­ship.
  • It’s not up to your part­ner to behave in a cer­tain way, so that you won’t annoy your­self.

It’s up to you to sit down, drop the dra­ma, and talk about what’s going on for you, while [here’s the only thing your part­ner is respon­si­ble for] your part­ner DOES THE SAME THING!

Not crit­i­cize, not blame, not ream, not fin­ger point. Talk about what is up for you, and then shut up so your part­ner has the time and space to do the same.

If all of this seems impos­si­ble, it’s not. Go to a work­shop, see a ther­a­pist, buy my book! Here’s a link: The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.

And decide, once and for all, to be direct, clear, hon­est, forth­right, and above all, curi­ous.

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is known on the web as the Sim­ple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Pri­vate Prac­tice Coun­sel­lor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the lat­est being The. Best. Rela­tion­ship. Ever.

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