Yesterday I reviewed some of the things to avoid when helping others. Today I want to start with those concepts that are difficult and challenging and yet important to introduce early.
Things to Recommend and Do
There are a few things that are so important that we would not be doing our jobs if we did not introduce the concepts. Encouraging the actions that go with the concepts can be gradual, but the concepts need to be brought up even if they are hard to hear and if the person is not ready for the actions. I’ve addressed what to do for the New Stander in greater detail in the Instructions for Newbies; these are what to advise as an adviser.
It is never too early to begin the gradual process of Detaching. But that it is a gradual process is key and thus we need to understand it is a slow process that has ups and downs and each person moves at their own rate. Encourage without bombarding and without chastising for failure.
GALing (Getting A Life)
This is not as important for immediate introduction as Detachment, but it can be introduced immediately; but many are not ready to actively GAL and GAL is different for each person. Socializing outside of the home with friends like I mention above is not a requirement. Being a hermit where you never leave the house is not healthy and some GAL activities should eventually be outside of your home, but GAL is about picking up your life rather than focusing on the roles you have been living. Yes, you are someone’s parent, spouse, child… but you are also someone. GAL is about being you not someone else’s someone.
I know it is not easy and as with Detachment and GALing it is something to learn and apply gradually. But stopping the negative thought processes can help a person in the earliest moments after Bomb Drop, so it is important to introduce it early even when the person doesn’t believe it is possible because they won’t get out of bed and all they want to do is figure out how to fix things and get their spouse back at any cost.
These are the techniques I began using within days after Bomb Drop. They are great for daily life and so may be introduced and continued at all stages. Like everything else, the use of these is not to be insisted, but because they can have an affect when used, it is important to introduce them early.
Reassure & Redirect
Left Behind Spouses often think the situation is their fault; if only they had done or had not done something, if only they had been a better spouse, if only BLAH BLAH BLAH. Life is filled with if only’s. Gently reassure them and continue to reassure with gentless rather than insistence; it takes a long time to believe.
Go at a pace that is acceptable to the person you are advising. I know that you think they should maybe speed things along and be better by now. You are probably right, but redirect in a manner they will accept. Push gently, otherwise they may stop accepting your help. Self-Focus is the most important part of each person’s journey, but in the beginning they just don’t care and will shut you out when you do not take their concerns into consideration. They want to know about MLC and how to fix it, save their marriage and why this is happening. It does not matter if you think those things are not important; people will cling to those concerns until they get some answers and validation for having the concerns.
Promote the Unconditionals
Validate anger, but discourage demonization. Bad-mouthing with negative names and labels may release some negativity in the moment because it may help a person feel more worthy, but in the long-term it is unhealthy because the increase in Self-Worth is an invalid inflation since it is based on being at the expense of someone else rather than based within an internal foundation. Most of you get the basics of the Unconditionals, but do not associate name-calling with the high-level of negativity it creates. I know he’s acting the part of a$$hole right now, but that is his present behaviour, not his character.
Insulting one person makes it easier to insult others and is a barrier to empathy. This is true for all players. You do not have to like alienators, but hating them is not going to help. Some of your friends have been or will someday be alienators; some of you have been alienators. Alienators are no less worthy of the Unconditionals than are the betrayed.
What about relationships that are relatively new—5 years or less and/or where the couple is not married or when the one or both partners are younger than typical MLC age. Cohabitation in a long-term relationship feels like marriage, but if the relationship started only a few years ago, what are the differences? What about shorter-term relationships without children?
My mind automatically wonders if this relationship began with the person already in MLC—early stages before it was detectable?
If there are no children, does the person want to risk Standing and losing child-bearing years?
Without a years-long investment is this person certain they want to continue investing?
These are the same questions and comments made about deserving, Self-Respect, and are you sure? They may feel different when the questioner comes from a long-term relationship. But are they? Is one relationship more valid or worth more because the couple have been together for 20 years rather than 5 or because the couple have children who will be affected and damaged or because the law recongizes the union?
The questions are still valid. But again, wrap them in validations, exceptions and statements of concern for the individual you are addressing and use a soft tone.
Instead of you are young, are you sure you want this relationship?
You need to think about what you want. What do you want out of a relationship and what do you want for your life. I don’t know the answers and I’m not implying them by my questions, but I think you need to think about the tough stuff. Is this person someone who will partner with you in the life you want or are the sacrifices too great? Are you risking your youth and possibly child-bearing years while you Stand? I believe in Standing, I did it and I took the risk, but I had to accept the risk.
You don’t have a lot of years invested, are you sure you want this relationship?
Do you really know this person? She may have been in MLC when you met?
I’m not trying to challenge your judgment. Your partner may be as wonderful as she seemed in the early days. And yet maybe, just maybe that was part of in-fatuation. I know we are a bunch of Standers and so everyone thinks we are just supposed to support Standing and permanent relationships, but we also have to know when a relationship never really was permanent; it was not what we thought. I’m not saying she manipulated and lied by pretending to be something she isn’t. I’m saying that we are different; we become different in the early years of new relationships. We become the person we have always wanted to be. But the person we were before is who we are and we need to integrate that person into the US if we are to be permanent. So ask yourself if yourt partner will be able to integrate her past Self with who you want her to be and with what you want in a relationship.