I understand that as a professional using my own experiences is not always the best practice. However, I insert personal stories when I feel that they will benefit the readers. The irony of this story, is just too good to leave out.
Let me start from the beginning. I was in Oakland, CA for a CAMFT conference recently. I took some seminars on couple’s therapy, and had a wonderful time getting to know some of my cohorts. As we traveled home I felt a sense of excitement about what I learned. A book called Breaking the Argument Cycle, How to Stop Fighting without Therapy was the topic one seminar. The author of the book, Sharon M. Rivkin, M.A, M.F.T, kept our attention as she gracefully told us her personal story and the impact of her professional therapy practice.
Later that week, I went over to my boyfriends’ house. There on the table were individually cut, baked, and a nicely organized pan of brownies for my boyfriend to take to the pot-luck at work the next day. My initial reaction was, “Who baked the brownies!?” He answered with, “I did.”
Then we were off; I was insisting that his mother or sister had to have made them, and he was standing his ground that he had made them and “Why did I have to be so rude?”
We went on for a long time, fighting about brownies? Oh wow! I had just found myself in the same situation that the author of the book above had discussed. An argument about brownies seemed like such a silly thing. But what does it really mean?
Sometimes we are not fighting about what we seem to be fighting about. Most of the time we are fighting about something much deeper. Most of the problems exist in our relationships are a pattern of how we grew up or our past relationships.
During an argument, we have an initially feeling that arises from the situation. Maybe I felt distrust/doubt about him making the brownies. Maybe he felt hurt/criticized. The root of our discussion probably had nothing to do with the brownies and more about the feelings that the brownies brought up. Even more importantly is how we dealt with those feelings.
Reading the book and trying to understand your own personal hang-ups when it comes to relationships can help you to better understand where your reactions or arguments may stem from. Once you understand where they stem from, you might begin to adjust your reactions. This will take a great amount of time and work.
In the end it will be worth eliminating the main reason for the arguments and leave the brownies for eating.
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The Cynical Therapist came to be when two therapists became friends. SoulMates or Kindered Spirit Animals… Call us what you will…. We are two bad*** chics Licensed to teach you how to grow into your full potential and add some humor along the way.
Laurie Wilson and Elle Anzalone are both Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Huntington Beach, CA.