So, is it really possible not to react to our partner’s triggers? Can you even imagine what that would look like? Most of us didn’t have this modeled to us growing up so we never learned how to be in control of our feelings. Now as an adult you can reparent yourself and teach yourself how to manage your feelings so that instead of your feelings ‘making’ you do something i.e. react, you can take your feelings into consideration and make the best decision for you i.e respond. So, let me share with you one way to do this. It’s called Inner Bonding.
Inner Bonding is a process which when practiced on a consistent basis, helps build and strengthen the part of you that takes loving actions that are in your highest good. This part of you is called your inner Loving Adult. I’m sure you can identify areas of your life where you currently make good choices that are thoughtful and caring about yourself and others. When you act in these ways your Loving Adult is in charge. Your Loving Adult never reacts when triggered unless you perceive there is a real and present danger. When you are consistently in your Loving Adult your life flourishes. You feel more joyful and connected to your partner and you support your partner’s highest good.
The part of you that reacts is a very young part of you which we call your Wounded Self. This part of you perceives everything as a threat even when there isn’t a real and present danger. This child part of you only wants to avoid difficult feelings, get love and feel safe. Your Wounded Self tries to control achieving these objectives by using strategies such as getting angry, shaming, criticizing, judging, withdrawing and caretaking. When you hand control of your choices to your Wounded Self, you feel anxious, depressed, alone and disconnected from your partner.
By learning and practicing Inner Bonding, you can strengthen your Loving Adult so that you can live a more joyful life and have a more connected, passionate and loving relationship with your partner. This is what practicing Inner Bonding with your partner looks like:
In every interaction with your partner, notice what you’re feeling and take responsibility for your feelings. They’re your feelings and they’re either feelings like loneliness, helplessness or heartbreak that naturally occur from being in a relationship or they’re feelings you’re creating by what you’re telling yourself or what you’re doing. These made up feelings include anxiety, depression, shame and frustration and they only get in the way of having an intimate relationship.
Now that you’re connected internally to your feelings, imagine a very wise part of you that has at one time or another made good decisions for you. This is your Higher Self. This is the part of you that knows the good reasons why you’re having these feelings and what to do about them. Your Higher Self will help you learn the truth about how to respond in a loving way to your partner rather than react in unloving ways to your partner.
With the support of your Higher Self, say to yourself that there must be good reasons why you’re having these feelings and you want to learn what those reasons are. Then notice what you’re telling yourself about the situation with your partner. Ask yourself how you are interpreting their behavior. Are you taking it personally? Do you believe that it means they don’t care about you? Do you believe you are a failure? Unlovable? Unworthy? Are you thinking your partner is going to leave you? These are examples of your beliefs. If you’re in your Wounded Self, you’re going to think your beliefs are true and then you’re Wounded Self is going to react. If you’re in your Loving Adult, then you’re going to keep an open mind and want to learn if they are true.
If you’re Loving Adult is in charge, you’ll move into an intention to learn with yourself and to find out the truth about your partner’s intention. Instead of misinterpreting your partner’s behavior from your Wounded Self, you’ll find out the truth from your Loving Adult. Instead of telling yourself lies about your worth from your Wounded Self, your Loving Adult will ask your Higher Self the truth about your lovability. If you allow your Wounded Self to misinterpret your partner’s behavior, you’ll react in unloving ways towards your partner. When you access the truth from your Higher Self, your Loving Adult will know how to respond in a loving way.
Once you know the truth, then you need to take loving action. This means doing something in the moment that makes you feel more worthy and reinforces your innate value. It might mean setting a loving boundary with your partner by letting your partner know that it doesn’t feel good to be around your partner when you feel blamed so you’re going to leave until you feel respected. The loving action might mean taking accountability with your partner for your acting in a hurtful way towards your partner. Or you might decide the loving action is to support your partner in the way they’re asking you for even if it’s a stretch for you to do this.
The more that you practice responding from your Loving Adult rather than reacting from your Wounded Self, the more you’ll feel connected to your own peace and joy and the more connected you’ll feel to your partner. The more you practice the Inner Bonding process the more you’ll realize that you don’t have to react with your partner. You can feel your feelings, take personal responsibility for them and move into an intention to learn about the good reasons you’re having your feelings. You can find out the truth about the situation, identify the loving action you need to take to feel strengthen yourself and your relationship and then take those actions.
When you follow these steps, you’ll know that every Wounded Self reaction is always an overreaction because you have the ability to always choose to consciously respond rather than react in any situation. And when you respond from a place of truth and love then you create a new way of interacting with your partner that helps lead both of you towards a deeper and more joyful intimate connection.