As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Master NLP Practitioner, I’ve worked with countless couples and families since 2000. In my work with them, I’ve learned how incredibly important it is to encourage them to discuss inflammatory topics when they are in resourceful states; it is the difference that makes the difference. When couples or families are in resourceful states, each person is feeling calm, centered, open-minded, and desirous of hearing what their loved one wants to share and say; they seek first to understand, then to be understood. They know in their heart that they have the resources within them to remain safe, fully present, and grounded even if their partner or family member says something that they wholeheartedly disagree with. They also know that they are deeply lovable and worthwhile regardless of what is being said.
Unfortunately, couples and family members discuss feelings and other touchy subjects when they’re not in resourceful states. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve witnessed this misstep all too often, and I’ve seen couples and family members escalate the tension between them and saying and doing things that only serve to damage the safety and trust that serves as the foundation of their relationship. As a result, I encourage them to be mindful of the following acronym: H.A.L.T. The letters in this acronym stand for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
Whenever a person is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, they’re prone to hearing things in a distorted way. They are vulnerable to seeing the world and their relationship through a dark prism, and they’re going to take assume the worst and/or misconstrue what’s being said simply because they’re not in a resourceful state. On the contrary, they’re in an imbalanced state of mind and body, and therefore they’re unable to hear, think, and respond accurately or constructively. In addition to being mindful of whether or not you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, I want to invite you now to consider what other states make it very challenging for you to truly listen and talk to your loved one without the likelihood of tensions between the two of you blowing up in your faces.
If you’re a woman, for example, I wonder if the day before your menstrual cycle or throughout your menstrual cycle you’re more likely to enter into a state of mind and body that makes you far more prone to misconstruing what’s being said or more vulnerable to seeing the people around you in a negative light. If you’re a man or woman who is on medication and happens to experience withdrawal symptoms when you forget to take it, I wonder if this is a time when you’re more likely to be irritable, agitated, and unable to have a constructive conversation with the person you love. If you’ve just received bad news, I wonder if this is a time when you’re not in enough of a resourceful state to have a challenging conversation.
Starting today, if you’re in a relationship and there is a challenging topic that you or your loved one wants to discuss, ask yourself if you’re in enough of a resourceful state to have the discussion without losing your cool. Ask yourself if you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, tired, and/or any other emotion that will make it too difficult for you to be fully present, calm, cool, and collected to talk about something that might trigger you. If you’re not in a resourceful state, I want to invite you to tell your loved one that you’d like to take a time out and revisit the topic in a mutually agreeable amount of time to avoid unnecessary hurt and preserve, instead, the well being, safety, and trust that keeps your relationship thriving.
Thank you for taking your time to read this blog. I hope that you found it thought provoking and instructive.
John Boesky, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/ Master NLP Practitioner/Certified Hypnotherapist