Relationship Diversity Podcast

The Hidden Message Beneath Relationship Discomfort

January 11, 2024 Carrie Jeroslow Episode 82
Relationship Diversity Podcast
The Hidden Message Beneath Relationship Discomfort
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Episode 82
The Hidden Message Beneath Relationship Discomfort

A certain level of relational discomfort is normal in intimate relationships.

When faced with an argument or disagreement, the nervous system gets activated and many people instinctively choose to fight or run away.

But what if there was a different way to look at these moments?

What if there was a way to reframe the arguments that will contribute to your evolution and growth?   

Discover a fresh perspective on relationship challenges in this episode of Relationship Diversity Podcast. Whether you're single, monogamous, non-monogamous or polyamorous or practicing a relationship structure completely unique to you and the people involved, this podcast explores the beauty hidden in disagreements.

Learn the steps like Notice, Acknowledge, Gratitude, Nourishment, Movement, Clarity, and Communication to turn discomfort into fulfillment.

This is Relationships Reimagined.

Join the conversation as we dive into a new paradigm of conscious, intentional and diverse relationships.

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  https://ncadv.org/get-help
 
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Please note: I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, or social worker. I am not attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental, or emotional issue, disease, or condition. The information provided in or through my podcast is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider or Mental Health Provider. Always seek the advice of your own Medical Provider and/or Mental Health Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific circumstance.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Welcome to the Relationship Diversity Podcast, where we celebrate, question and explore all aspects of relationship structure diversity, from solaramary to monogamy to polyamory and everything in between, because every relationship is as unique as you are. We'll bust through societal programming to break open and dissect everything we thought we knew about relationships, to ask the challenging but transformational questions who am I and what do I really want in my relationships? I'm your guide, Keri Jarislow, bestselling author, speaker, intuitive and coach. Join me as we reimagine all that our most intimate relationships can become.

Carrie Jeroslow:

I don't like conflict. I never saw or experienced the normal and healthy loop of conflict and then conflict resolution. My parents never argued until they were getting divorced, and so every time I had a disagreement in my own relationships, I got so triggered that I thought the relationship was going to end. I would respond to these conflicts with endless apologies and doing anything I could think of to make the other person feel better, even if it left me feeling horrible. I would have much preferred feeling horrible than being conflict, and I acted this way in my relationships up until my divorce. But after much soul searching, growth and self healing, I came to understand that the discomfort, disagreement or sticky moment I was experiencing was actually happening for a reason. It was happening for me. It was showing me that something within me was needing acknowledgement, acceptance and healing. And although I still struggle with this concept today, I'm much more capable of seeing the discomfort as an opportunity and an invitation to look deeper within. There is always a nugget of my inner psyche calling out to me, wanting to teach me something about myself, and, when acknowledged and accepted, has the potential to help me have healthier, more fulfilling relationships. So when I lean into the discomfort with curiosity, I seem to move through it more easily, with less resistance.

Carrie Jeroslow:

And again, I'm still working on this. I'm not perfect and I really expect for this to be a lifelong process. I'm a peacemaker at heart. I just wish everyone could get along. In fact, I desperately wish we could find middle ground and learn to honor each other. Yes, I know it's a bit Pollyanna-ish, but I say this to express this desire that is so deep within me. And, at the same time, I do believe that conflict and disagreements, or, in other words, relationship discomfort, is very much a part of our world. So instead of sticking my head in the sand, I want to dive into it, understand it and how to use it for my healing, and that's my intention in this episode. I'm going to explore what relationship discomfort is, when and how it can be used to help your healing and evolution, as well as when it raises red flags, because sometimes it does. My hope is that this episode can help you reframe relational discomfort as an opportunity to courageously notice something deeper going on within you. And, lastly, I'm going to give you a clear roadmap to support this reframe.

Carrie Jeroslow:

One very important note before I get into it when I refer to relationship discomfort, I'm not talking about when your safety is in jeopardy. I'm not referring to abuse, whether physical, mental or emotional, and if you find yourself in this place, I'll link a resource in the show notes and I ask you to please get yourself someplace safe as soon as possible. The definition I'll be working with for this episode for relationship discomfort will refer to the uneasiness, tension or awkwardness that can arise within inter-personal connections, and because this podcast is all about intimate relationships, this will be my focus. It can manifest in various forms, such as misunderstandings, disagreements or emotional challenges. It could be as little as a minor annoyance or as big as a total nervous system upset where you get completely dysregulated, resulting in a fight or flight reaction. You know that moment, the one where you get a knot in your stomach, your heart starts beating faster, your face turns red, you feel your body get hot and you feel the instinct to either fight or run away.

Carrie Jeroslow:

We're very rarely triggered when by ourselves. Understandably, when we're alone, we seek comfort and surround ourselves with what feels good. When we're with others, regardless of if it's a close relationship or acquaintance, we're interacting with others who do life differently, who have different paths, beliefs, programs, idiosyncrasies and ways of being in the world. Even those we resonate deeply with have their own inner wounding that can be triggered by us and our wounding that can be triggered by them. Add in the scenario where you're practicing a non-traditional relationship style and your triggers are often intensified with all the relationship programs you unconsciously accepted as true and good. If you've been there, you know there can be a lot of discomfort and sticky moments in those interactions.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Oftentimes, discomfort carries a negative connotation. It's commonly associated with tension, unease and instability. However, what if we reframed our perspective and recognize that relationship discomfort can be a powerful catalyst for growth, connection and transformation? This reframe is what I'm hoping you get from this episode, because I believe and have experienced that when I adopted a new way of looking at and understanding relationship discomfort, being able to see it as a positive force for change, I found tremendous self-growth and self-understanding, which, in turn, made my relationships more connective and more expansive.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Discomfort in relationships can manifest in many different forms and in many different relationship structures. Whether you're navigating the complexities of soloamory, monogamy, non-monogamy, polyamory or whatever your unique relationship design is, it may arise from challenging conversations, differing expectations or the vulnerability that is so important in intimate relationships. Understanding the nature of discomfort is crucial. It's not necessarily an indication of failure, but rather an opportunity for exploration and evolution. So some examples of when discomfort can lead us to self-growth and healing are like those moments when we approach the edges of our comfort zones, especially when setting or renegotiating boundaries. This discomfort can be a positive sign signaling personal and relational growth. It encourages us to explore the reasons behind the discomfort, which can contribute to open communication and understanding. The discomfort may clarify why your boundaries are important or may help them evolve to align closer with your truth instead of beliefs and programs you took on by default. Another example of how relational discomfort can help us grow is those times when we're opening up to more vulnerability.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Discomfort relationships require vulnerability, and this can really be uncomfortable. Acknowledging and embracing vulnerability opens the door to deeper connections. It's a sign that you're allowing yourself to be seen authentically, creating a space for your partner or partners to do the same. I've also found that discomfort can arise when our beliefs and assumptions about relationships are challenged. Instead of resisting this discomfort, consider it invitation to reevaluate and expand your perspectives. You may not even realize that you hold a certain belief until you're faced with a situation that highlights that belief, so that discomfort could lead to a more inclusive and accepting view of relationship, diversity and all the vast ways we can relate to ourselves and others.

Carrie Jeroslow:

To give you an example of how this plays out, I knew someone whose partner really wanted to explore polyamory and they felt that in order to support their partner, they should do the same. But after exploration they realized that they preferred monogamy and was also okay with their partner having other relationships. They were flooded with so many judgments about their relationship, beliefs and programs, things like how could I even be okay with my partner having other relationships without me doing the same? What about fairness? How can this ever work for me? Will I be too jealous, and so on and so on. This brought so much tension in their relationship until they began to challenge those cultural beliefs and figure out what they really felt and believed.

Carrie Jeroslow:

I do think that there are times when discomfort raises red flags that may signal a deeper issue, not just within you, but also within the relationship as a whole, one that might be best helped through working with a relationship coach or therapist. So discomfort can become problematic when it stems from a misalignment of core values. This is where it's helpful to know your non-negotiables and be able to express them. I always say know yourself to know what you want, and know yourself to know what you don't want. What is a fundamental need and desire that you must have in your relationships. If you find yourself compromising on these essential principles and standards, it's crucial to reassess whether the relationship is conducive to your well-being and personal integrity. If, for example, one of your relationship core values is the desire for all the people in the relationship to take responsibility, work on themselves as best as possible, and yet your partner or partners consistently blame you for their feelings and circumstance, then this might be a sign that they're not able to meet this important aspect that you so desire. I'm not saying you give up on your partner and the chance for them to grow and learn, but if it's gone on for some time and you still feel blamed for your partner's discomfort, this could be a red flag that discomfort's bringing up.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Another potential red flag can be a consistent communication breakdown. All healthy relationships, regardless on relationship structure, thrive on open communication. If discomfort persists due to unresolved issues or a breakdown in communication, it may indicate an underlying problem. Regular, honest communication is vital to addressing and resolving these challenges. And if you find that your communication breaks down when faced with discomfort, look into why you think this happens and investigate if there's something you can do to shift the pattern. If this is an endless loop of communication breakdown that just can't seem to be resolved amongst you, finding a relationship therapist can be a last step to see if this is something you and your partner or partners can work through.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Okay, now for the reframe and the hard truth. Relationship discomfort is usually solved within you. You can't change others. You'll feel powerless in your life over and over and over again if you put all your needs for ease and comfort outside of yourself. So instead of instinctively running away from that discomfort which I know it's the natural response to anything that feels uncomfortable. You instead lean into the discomfort and by that leaning in, you learn to reframe discomfort as an invitation to dig deeper within yourself with curiosity, discovering these new parts of yourself and growing personally through acceptance and acknowledgement. And that idea of growth can be exciting and invigorating, and that excitement can be the motivation you need to move through the icky feelings. Easier said than done, right? So how do you really do that? At the core, you first get curious about how discomfort presents in your body and mind and then open yourself up to acknowledge and accept the sensations and thoughts, followed by investigating what it's wanting from you. Okay, I'm gonna make this as easy as possible by giving you a step-by-step roadmap to reframe the discomfort.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Step one, the first step, is the most important because without it, the following steps will be much harder, and that is to notice the discomfort in your body. Just noticing will stop the automatic response and reaction. How does discomfort show up in your body? As we learned from the last episode with Dedeker Winston and Orit Krug, the body never lies. By tuning into your body, you can recognize when discomfort happens by knowing where and how it sits in your body. For example, anytime I start to feel triggered, my heart starts beating super fast. Knowing this stops my reaction and gives me a choice to pause, step away and take a deep breath or, even better, actually communicate to my partner that I'm feeling triggered and need to take a breath. That doesn't mean that my heart stops beating really fast. It just means that my awareness is there and I can stop the instant and automatic unhealthy reaction to what's going on in the situation.

Carrie Jeroslow:

The next step is to simply acknowledge the discomfort. I usually need to excuse myself for a few minutes to do this effectively. I acknowledge the discomfort by saying hello to the sensation. I actually talk to it like this Hello, I see you, I feel you. And then I breathe into it and I add it's okay, I see you, I feel you, I love you and it's okay to feel what you're feeling. It's really okay. This phrase also helps me accept the feelings that I have and not try to change them and not try to judge them. A lot of times, we want to make either ourselves or our partners wrong to soothe the discomfort. So this step will really help you feel heard, seen and loved by yourself. If you stop here you'll have gained so much. So if you can just do those first two steps noticing and acknowledging you will be in a better place, and if you feel ready to move forward.

Carrie Jeroslow:

The next step is to find gratitude for the opportunity. This may be a little tricky at first and if you can lean into the reframe that the discomfort is an imitation for awareness and healing, and just keep working with it, it becomes easier and easier. You're not necessarily feeling gratitude for the discomfort, because it's definitely more challenging to be thankful for something that just feels gross, but instead you're finding gratitude for the opportunity to look at something within you, grow, heal and evolve. This leads to the next step, which is to do something nourishing, some form of self-care Very simple. I love simple self-care because I'm super busy. I can't do an even-an-hour workout or an hour bath, but just 10 minutes, 5 minutes of journaling, quieting your mind, talking to a friend who will objectively listen and give you some insight, some way to show yourself compassion and care. Somewhere you're not getting that need met, so how can you meet your own needs? This will also help to calm down the part of your brain that instinctively goes to fight or flight.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Next, find something that helps you move the emotion. I am such a big proponent of moving your body in whatever way you can because emotion can get stuck in the body. So this could be actual movement, like going outside for two minutes and deeply breathing, or going on a walk if you happen to have more time. It could look like dancing to one song, or it could be some form of mindfulness a shower, singing, yelling in your car, shaking your body. It doesn't have to be longer, complicated, even 10 jumping jacks, 5 jumping jacks, or sitting in a chair and shaking your hands for 30 seconds. Any kind of movement will really help to move the energy and the emotion and keep it from getting stuck in the body.

Carrie Jeroslow:

The next step on the Reframe Roadmap is to get clear on what the discomfort is. At least clearer Journal it, love on it. Ask yourself what do I need to confront in myself? How do I contribute to this? To give you an example of this, I had a client who was a people pleaser and always cowered in the face of an argument. They learned that discomfort always put their people pleasing mode in overdrive, wanting to completely give up on themselves and make their partner feel better. We worked on them finding their own worthiness and voice and finding the courage to express it to their partner. This was a slow process but completely shifted the dynamic in their relationships. And the final step is just that communicate your findings with your partner, check in with your partner and come together to determine a day in time to revisit what happened and share what you learned. This is an easy step to skip over, especially when you're busy and pulled in other directions. I've done it in my own relationships, but I find when you can come together, share and close the loop of what happened, you'll move forward with more connection and less resentment. So to summarize the steps in one word, per step is 1. Notice, 2. Acknowledge, 3. Gratitude, 4. Nourishment, 5. Movement, 6. Clarity and 7. Communication.

Carrie Jeroslow:

I truly believe that relationship discomfort is a natural part of intimate relationships. It's not necessarily fun or pleasurable, but it is the catalyst for personal evolution which can bring deeper intimacy and fulfillment into all of your relationships. Recognizing when discomfort is a catalyst for positive change and when it signals a deeper issue is key to fostering relationships that are not only enduring but also transformative. Embrace the discomfort, lean into it with an open heart and mind and discover the profound growth and connection that can emerge with this very important mindset shift. And, as always, stay curious.

Carrie Jeroslow:

New episodes are released every Thursday. Stay connected with me through my YouTube channel, where I'll give you even more free resources and information, all about relationship diversity. I'm super excited to go deeper into YouTube because I'll be able to connect and have conversations directly with you. You'll find the link in the show notes. Stay curious.

Carrie Jeroslow:

Every relationship is as unique as you are. Are you wondering why you never seem to find lasting fulfillment in your relationships? Or do you create the same kinds of relationship experiences over and over again? Can you never seem to find even one person who you want to explore a relationship with? Have you just given up hope altogether? If this sounds like you, my recent book why Do they Always Break Up With Me is the perfect place to start. The foundation of any relationship, whether intimate or not, is the relationship we have with ourselves. In the book, I lead you through eight clear steps to start or continue your self-exploration journey. You'll learn about the importance of self-acceptance, gratitude, belief, shifting and forgiveness, and given exercises to experience these life-changing concepts. This is the process I use to shift my relationships from continual heartbreak to what they are now fulfilling, soul-nourishing, compassionate and loving. It is possible for you. This book can set you on a path to get there, currently available through Amazon or through the link in the show notes.

Embracing Relationship Discomfort for Growth
Steps for Managing Relationship Discomfort
Relationship Diversity and Self-Exploration Journey