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Overcome Challenges with Resilience: Relational with Others Intelligence

Purpose: Strengthening relational intelligence may help someone create a secure base of interdependence from which to engage in and disengage from relationships with other people.

Background

The human brain is hardwired to be social and connect with other people. People can choose how to perceive other people and relationship dynamics. Feelings may be hurt by other people through being let down or being treated unfairly. Feelings may also be uplifted by other people and the joys of life experienced. The skill of relational intelligence may help someone to connect safely with other people and recover resiliently from challenging relationship situations. Using theory of mind, a person can learn to differentiate and disengage themselves safely from another person. A healthy base of interdependence can help someone shift their focus between themselves and others. Having an established healthy base of interdependence can be a foundation from which to navigate a relationship.

 

The building blocks of a healthy base of interdependence consist of trust, refuge, and resources. Trust involves trusting the self to be able to safely engage and disengage from another person. When there is shared humanity and the relationship is constructive then engagement can continue, but if a relationship lacks trust or connection then it can be disengaged from. Being able to seek refuge in others can help someone recover resilience. An understanding partner can help someone restore faith in themselves, in others, and in life again. Resources can serve as safety nets that can help someone recover from a challenging time. Resources can include families, communities, societies, advisers, or anyone that can provide financial or logistical assistance. The resources should be established prior to the challenging time occurring, so that someone knows where to turn for assistance.

 

Relational intelligence may have been damaged by past experiences of being codependent with others or needing someone's approval to feel good about oneself. Or, the sense of self could have been diminished by acting out of character to please someone else or from withdrawing from society to protect a fragile sense of self. Strengthening relational intelligence may help to build a secure sense of interdependence and healthy relationship dynamics.

 

Relational with others intelligence is the fourth subtopic within the WavyFields topic of “Overcome Challenges with Resilience.” Please review the first three subtopics, “Somatic Intelligence,” “Emotional Intelligence,” and “Relational Within the Self Intelligence” before proceeding to the Practice section below. After reviewing this subtopic of “Relational with others intelligence,” then proceed to the subtopic of “Reflective Intelligence.”

Practice: These practices may help someone to strengthen relational intelligence with others.

Listening and Being Listened To

 

Conditioning: Listening and being listened to are skills that can be improved with practice. This practice can increase the brain’s social engagement ability and deepen trust between partners.

Practice: Find a partner to do this practice with. One partner will start as the listener and the other as the speaker. The listener will ask a question to the speaker, listen to the response, give thanks for the response, and then ask the same question again for up to five minutes. It is important that the listener does not say more than a simple statement of thanks after the speaker finishes answering a question. The speaker should give an honest response to the listener's question. After the first question has been asked and answered several times for five minutes, the partners discuss how it felt to listen and to be listened to. The listener will then ask the next question, and this process will repeat for up to thirty minutes. The partners will reflect on this practice and then switch roles, if they want to.


 

Communicating About a Difficulty 

 

Conditioning: The ability to effectively communicate with someone about a difficulty that is occurring with an aspect of their behavior, with another person’s behavior, or with one's own behavior is a skill that can be improved with practice. For this practice to be effective, both partners need to agree that the speaker will not blame or shame and that the listener will not try to correct or defend. This agreement will help to create a sense of safety. If the topic is too controversial, then it may be best to seek professional counseling.

Practice: Find a partner to do this practice with. Decide whether to communicate to the partner about a difficulty that is occuring with an aspect of the partner’s behavior, with another person’s behavior, or with the speaker's own behavior. Allow at least 15 minutes to identify and talk about the difficulty. Be sure to talk only about the difficulty with the other person by using statements such as “I feel…” and “I notice that…” without using any shame or blame. Pause after each statement and allow the partner to repeat back what they heard. The partner should start by saying, “I heard you say…” and then end by asking, “is there more?,” all the while not advising, debating, or criticizing. The speaker then continues exploring the difficulty, and the process repeats until the speaker has fully explored the difficulty. After the speaker has completed exploring the difficulty, the listener will summarize everything that they heard. The speaker will then offer any modifications to the listener’s summary so that both have an accurate understanding of what was said. At the end, the speaker and the listener will reflect on what it was like being the speaker and the listener in this practice. Switch roles with the partner so they can explore a difficulty, if they want to.


 

Negotiating a Behavior Change

 

Reconditioning: The ability to negotiate a behavior change with a partner is a skill that can be improved with practice. Before starting this practice, review the WavyFields topic, “Create good habits and untangle bad habits.”

Practice: Schedule a time to speak with a partner about a difficulty that is occuring within the relationship. Allow at least 15 minutes to identify and talk about the difficulty. Be sure to talk only about the difficulty with the other person by using statements such as “I feel…” and “I notice that…” without using any shame or blame. Pause after each statement and allow the partner to repeat back what they heard. The partner should start by saying, “I heard you say…” and then end by asking, “is there more?,” all the while not advising, debating, or criticizing. The speaker then continues exploring the difficulty, and the process repeats until the speaker has fully explored the difficulty. After the speaker has completed exploring the difficulty, the listener will summarize everything that they heard. The speaker will then offer any modifications to the listener’s summary so that both have an accurate understanding of what was said. Once the speaker and listener are on the same page, the speaker will list three positive and doable behavior changes (not attitude changes) that the listener can do to address the difficulty. Set a time frame for achieving the behavior changes. The speaker will also list three positive and doable behavior changes that they themselves can do that will address the difficulty. Set a time frame for achieving these behavior changes. Now, the speaker and listener will negotiate and modify the listed behavior changes. The speaker and listener will each choose one behavior change that they are willing to do within the agreed-on time frame. At the end of the agreed-on time frame, both the speaker and listener will discuss how their behavior change went. If the behavior change did not occur, then renegotiate. If the behavior change did occur but the speaker still does not feel that the difficulty in the relationship was addressed, then the speaker will need to clarify what behavior changes they or the listener need to do to address the difficulty.


 

Setting Limits and Boundaries

 

Reconditioning: The ability to set limits and boundaries in a relationship is a skill that can be improved with practice. If the limits and boundaries continue to be violated after this practice, then it may be best to seek professional counseling. Before starting this practice, review the WavyFields topic, “Create good habits and untangle bad habits.” 

Practice: Schedule a time to speak with someone to set a healthy limit or boundary. Allow at least 15 minutes to identify and talk about one violation of the healthy limit or boundary. Be sure to only talk about the limit or boundary violation with the other person by using statements such as “I feel…” and “I notice that…” without using any shame or blame. Pause after each statement and allow the other person to repeat what they heard. They should start by saying, “I heard you say…” and then end by asking, “is there more?,” all the while not advising, debating, or criticizing. The speaker then continues exploring the limit or boundary violation, and the process repeats until the speaker has fully explored the limit or boundary violation. After the speaker has completed exploring the limit or boundary violation, the listener will summarize everything that they heard. The speaker will then offer any modifications to the listener’s summary so that both have an accurate understanding of what was said. Once the speaker and listener are on the same page, the speaker will suggest a limit or boundary that would address the problem. The speaker will also list three consequences that will occur if the listener continues to violate the limit or boundary. The speaker will identify how the consequences will be enforced. It is essential that the consequences are enforced the first time that the limit or boundary is violated. If a limit or boundary is violated again, enforce the consequences and discuss what has happened and what can be learned from what happened. Decide whether to repeat this practice until the new limit or boundary becomes a new habit.


 

Enhancing a Sense of Shared Humanity

 

Deconditioning: Enhancing a sense of shared humanity is a skill that can be improved with practice. By recognizing the commonalities between oneself and others, this can increase a sense of being connected and decrease a sense of being different.

Practice: Identify someone who is not personally known, such as a person waiting in line at the store or sitting at the same restaurant. Imagine what their life might be like, such as what they do for work, their educational background, their family, goals for the future, etc. Then, imagine what concerns or stressors they may be dealing with. Imagine the similarities in life, including concerns and stressors that are shared. Imagine how life may have unfolded if born into the same gender, race, class, etc. as this person. Think about what strengths or vulnerabilities there may be, how coping and being resilient may have occurred, etc. Just like oneself, the other person wants to be happy, free of pain and stress, have joys and success, love and to be loved, and have peace and happiness.

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