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There is No Such Thing as a Table for Two

by Jo-Ann Downey

in Relationship Communication Skills

Very Smart Girls will celebrate its 10th Birthday on July 27, 2019!  In honor of this milestone I will provide an update on my first four blogs posted on July 27, 2009 – There is No Such Thing as a Table for Two, What is Wellness?, An Effective Way to be Present- Do Not Compare, and 2 Essential Guidelines to Create a New Habit.

Original 2009 Post

There is No Such Thing as a Table for Two

Each of us is complex and unique.  Even if there are only 2 people together, let’s say sharing a meal, There is No Such Thing as a Table for Two!  The intention of this article is to increase your awareness about relationship dynamics and the need for effective relationship communication skills.  Let’s go.

Effective Communication – How Many People are Here?

You have many aspects of yourself- your joyful self, your upset self, your mature self, your immature self, your perceptions, your beliefs, who you think you are, who you think the other person is, etc.

Now think about the fact that the person you are with also has many aspects- their joyful self, their upset self, their mature self, their immature self, their perceptions, their beliefs, who they think they are, who they think you are, etc.

The list is probably infinite and some aspects of yourself, and others, have more “juice” than others.  Clearly, there is a lot going on.

Relationship Communication- Who is Talking to Who?

With every communication opportunity, there are many dynamics and they can change from minute to minute.

For example, your mature self might be talking to someone’s immature self. Your belief that punctuality is important may collide with someone’s nature to be carefree.

You should assume that you never know exactly what is going on (perhaps even with yourself), so listen well – to yourself and others.

Your awareness that There is no Such Thing as a Table for Two should help you to be more understanding of others and all the variables in play. This puts you on the right track for more effective communication and better relationships.

10 Years Later

How I show up to the table is 100% my responsibility and I am keenly aware that my thoughts determine how I show up to the table.

Regarding thoughts, I have developed a practice of gently bringing my awareness to:

  • The presence of my thoughts. Yes, just the fact that I am thinking and can have a very active mind.
  • The quality of my thoughts. Generally speaking, are my thoughts positive or negative towards myself, others, and/or the situation?
  • The overall energy level of my thoughts – low, medium, high. In other words, the level of attachment I have to my thoughts.
  • Knowing that thoughts are just thoughts, and they come from places known and unknown to me (culture, family, personal beliefs).
  • Understanding that, without exception, all thoughts come and go.
  • Knowing that I can consciously choose which thoughts to energize and which ones to let go. Perhaps even let go of all of them.

And don’t think too much about your thoughts because that adds more thinking – you can pick just one item from the list above!

“It’s best to minimize your relationship with most of your thoughts!” Jo-Ann Downey

“Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.” G.C. Lichenberg (1742-1799)

photo credit: Greg Halvorsen

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