year of living copyLife, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement. — Henry Miller


Yesterday I introduced the idea of flooding or flowing; today I begin with the five-step process of expressing feelings that result from another’s behavior, feelings that may seem overwhelming when they are still swirling around within the finite space of your internal self. Once your feelings are allowed out into the largeness of the universe, you are likely to find that they are more manageable—not less important but smaller. The first step in the process of setting free your feelings is to describe the behavior that you believe precipitated those feelings. Note: the example situation I will use for the next five days is presented just below.

The situation: Your partner has a habit of looking other men or women up and down slowly and sexually, and oftentimes commenting to you on some physical feature that she or he finds attractive.

Step One: Describing the Behavior. You are in charge, here. How you approach this will likely determine the outcome. What you must be aware of is that your feelings are involved in this, and that they’re likely to show themselves right away. However, it’s your job to avoid that; Step Three addresses feelings, but in Step One all you are doing is objectively describing your partner’s behavior.

“I noticed you watching that woman as she walked by, and then you just commented on what nice legs she has.”

Observe: Do not judge (“I noticed you ogling that woman”) and do not interpret (“you must not find me attractive”) and do not threaten (“if you do that again, so help me_________” ). Simply describe what you observe.


Practice describing behaviors you observe—without judgment of those behaviors. When your partner slams a door, you can observe (to yourself; this is practice), “I heard the door slam when you went outside.” When your child pouts, you will observe, “I notice that your lips are sticking out and you are frowning.” It can be difficult to leave off the judgments, but it’s essential. It sometimes helps if you imagine yourself writing an introduction to a newspaper article: all you are addressing so far, though, is the what, and when. No how or why for today!

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