This episode teaches two essential questions to ask yourself about any relationship. These powerful questions have the ability to deepen and transform almost any relationship— including your relationship with yourself. Just answer the questions silently to yourself as you listen to the episode, and you’ll come to a much deeper, more helpful understanding of that relationship—and of yourself.
The Two Questions You Need To Ask About Your Relationship
Because We Get Hurt Precisely In The Places We Care The Most
What are two of the most powerful questions you can ask to heal and strengthen any relationship? Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to find out.
Hi, everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist, author of the book, Deeper Dating and the host of this show. Today, we’re going to talk about the two questions that you need to ask yourself about any important relationship that you have. This week and every week, I’m going to share with you the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because all the skills of dating are just the skills of intimacy. Those are the most precious skills of all for a happy and rich life. I also want to say that you can get the transcript of this episode by going to DeeperDatingPodcast.com. You can hear all my other episodes there. You can sign up for my mailing list and get free gifts there as well.
I also want to say that I, and my husband, have created an online dating event based on all the values that I teach that we’re so excited about. You can go to DeeperDating.com to learn more about that and hear about events that will be hopefully in your neck of the woods as well. I also want to say that everything I talk about in this episode is going to be educational in nature. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice. If you’re experiencing any serious psychological or psychiatric conditions, please do seek professional help. Finally, I would so appreciate it if you could subscribe and leave me a review. I’m going to jump in now.
Today, I’m going to teach you an exercise that can bring compassion and deep insight to any of your most important relationships, – romantic, friendship, family, and also point you toward greater closeness, healing and joy with your loved one. This exercise is going to ask you to reflect on two of the absolutely most important questions that can lead us to a richer and more conscious life. The questions are completely obvious, but our ability to discount and dishonor our responses to those questions is nothing short of breathtaking. You’ll see what I mean.
We get hurt and inspired the most in the places we care about the most. Click To Tweet
What Interactions From Your Relationship Inspire You And Hurt You The Most?
What I’d like you to start by doing, as we’ve done in so many of our other episodes, just do this while you’re listening. You can be running, you could be walking, you could be driving. You don’t need to write anything down, you could just answer these questions out loud as you go. It will enrich you and open your eyes to deeply important intimacy themes in your life, and point you toward your direction of deeper intimacy growth, which all of us want. Start by choosing a relationship you want to focus on. It could be someone you’re dating, someone you’re in a relationship with, a family member, a friend. You can do thisese tons of times. Choose whoever comes up for you first now. Question number one, what interactions in this relationship inspire you the most, touch your heart, make you feel safe, make you feel challenged, make you feel honored, make you feel like you belong, any of those kinds of questions.
I’d like you to pause the recording if you like and just list them. Just list the ones that inspire you the most. I’d like you to pause now and list them. What I want to say is we’ve got macro inspirations, like deep character qualities that move you greatly, ways that they are with you. We have micro inspirations. It could be the way that this person tends to their plants or decorates their house or cooks or takes care of their pets, anything. Macro, micro, think what interactions, what things that you notice in this relationship inspire you the most? The next question is what interactions in this relationship hurt you the most? I want to speak a little bit about both of these before we go any further.
There’s something that is existentially important in your answers to these questions. This is why we get the most hurt and the most inspired precisely in the places we care the most. The places we care the most are the dominant themes of our lives and our personality. They are what I call our core gifts. It’s those parts of our psyche that influence our behavior most powerfully. Because they’re so central to our emotional, spiritual DNA, the way we relate to them determines our self-esteem more than almost anything else. It also determines who we’re sexually and romantically attracted to. I speak about that. I’m not going to speak about that in this episode, but it’s something I speak about a lot in my work.
If you, or any of us, want to create a useful user’s manual for the relationship you’re focusing on and for you, it’s so important to become increasingly familiar with the answers to those two questions for yourself but also for your loved ones. These tender parts of ourselves and we’re going to get to my asking you the question about the things that hurt the most in a moment. These tender parts of you are highly active in your closest relationships. I call them core gifts. They’re like fingerprints. At first glance, it seems like they’re like everybody else as everyone wants respect, independence, love, safety. We all want those things.
On closer reflection, we want different facets of those in different ways. What’s important to one person is not as important to the other and vice versa. The things that are highly charged for us, another person might not realize how much these things mean to us. We might not even honor how much they mean to us. That is one of the deepest components of self-love is to recognize the things that are deeply charged for us and matter so much. Learn to hold them with what I call cupped hands with honor, with treasuring.
Your Unique Genius, Your Truest Self
These are the parts of ourselves that feel the most vulnerable. Those are the parts that it feels most urgent that we feel seen, understood and appreciated. There are also parts of ourselves that we are the most easily likely to hide and cover–up because it’s better not to be disappointed. When we do that, we’re living a life that loves bounces off of us instead of having this deep permeability to love. Within these qualities, these things where you get the most hurt, and you feel the most inspiration, lie your unique genius, and also your deepest ability to give and receive love. What I’d like you to do now is think back on your past experiences in this relationship.
I want you to think about the moments that you have felt micro hurts or major hurts. These simple moments, as well as the moments of inspiration, can tell you worlds about who you are, who your loved one is and what matters the most to each of you. When we see that in those reflections, there’s a feeling of truth. Not necessarily this sense of grand universal truth, but a sense of personal truth. This touches me where I live. This really does hurt me. This really does cause me to wilt, to shrink, to pull back, to retreat, to be angry, or this really does make my heart feel full and filled, joyful and peaceful.
What I’d like you to do now is to take a moment and now think about in this relationship the kind of things that hurt the most, macro and micro. Not for the reason of vilifying this other person, but for the reason of understanding what the hurts are so that you can be a better custodian of your heart in this relationship, and hence in every relationship. Take a few moments to do that. You can again pause the recording. Now I just want you to take a moment and think about the themes that emerged again and again, the things that gave you joy when they were met and honored, the things that caused pain when they were not. When you take the time to notice these themes, it’s like a connect the dots kinds of puzzle.
The more you understand and appreciate the precious parts of your loved one, the more they will feel loved and valued by you. Click To Tweet
You connect the themes and you realize that a few themes come up again and again. What emerges is a picture of your truest self. These are the things that matter most in an intimate relationship. It really affects me when someone can’t share their vulnerability and I’m going out on a limb. It really affects me when someone doesn’t stand for me when it’s hard and scary to do that because I do that for other people. When I see someone being brave and creative in the face of adversity, when I see someone being kind, when it would be just as easy, or even easier to be not so kind, these things kill me. They move me so deeply. If you take a moment and think about the things that hurt you the most and the most regularly, and that fills your heart the most regularly, you will begin to see the themes of you, the true colors of you.
I want to say something about joy here. It’s something I’ve talked about a lot in different episodes. Often, we pass over our moments of joy instead of relishing them. It’s a journey to be able to comfortably sit with our joys. I know for me that that’s been one of the biggest challenges of my life is being able to bear joy in a quiet, non-quaky way. Often, we feel uncomfortable or unworthy in the face of our moments of expansion or inspiration, then we try to minimize our good feelings like, “Everybody feels the same thing,” or immediately we parry the joy with a self-deprecating way of thinking that minimizes the positive that we just had, because inspiration can frighten us. It makes our defense quake.
It invites like a superstitious fear that the other shoe is going to drop. For most of us, we can bear joy only for a few fleeting moments, then it quickly turns into a critique or assessment or analysis. I know that’s true for me. The task of thinking of those small joys, not as nice moments, but as portals to something incredibly precious, incredibly big, incredibly important. That’s a different way to think. We minimize our hurts too. We tell ourselves we’re being too sensitive. We say that all the time or that we’re supposed to be the bigger person. We do not want oversensitivity to make everything worse than it is. We don’t want that. It’s good to be a bigger person when we feel like we can.
If we don’t honor our hurts and listen closely to the truths about their relationship and about us that they’re trying to tell us, we are going to keep repeating the same patterns in this relationship again and again. As you learn to listen to the things that feel wrong, you learn to hold and treasure and appreciate and express your appreciation for the things that feel right, your relationship turns richer. If it’s a romantic sexual relationship that opens the door for more sexuality, more sensuality, more embracing a deeper sense of radical intimacy. The same is true of non-sexual, non-romantic relationships, a more radical intimacy where we feel cared for and so willing to go out on a limb for the other person. You’ve done this exercise now. I want to encourage you to allow yourself time to process it and reflect because in going through that, you have now touched on some of the most precious, important and influencing parts of your being. That’s a big thing. You can imagine what would it be like to walk through the world honoring those parts of yourself, the inspirations and the hurts, honoring them more fully and richly.
What Is In You That Inspires Others?
We’re moving on to part two of this exercise. This is hard but fabulous. You’re going to redo the same process for your loved one. You’re going to try to place yourself in his or her or their shoes and imagine how he or she, or they would answer the same questions about your relationship. The first one is, what do you think in you inspires this person? Maybe they’ve told you, maybe you have to guess, but take a minute, you can pause this again, and list the things that you think inspire them about you, that they need about you, that they rely on from you, that they look up to, that make them feel safe in the world, that make them feel inspired in the world, that make them feel taken care of. Do that now.
This is a good one. It’s hard, but it’s a good one. If this loved one would have to articulate the ways that they felt most hurt in the relationship. I just want to say again this is an invitation to you to take on your most beautiful and important intimacy lessons. I know it’s hard. I know it’s humbling. That’s part of the beauty of this journey because anything you take in and go, “I can see that I have hurt this person I love. I can see that I have missed their cues. I can see that I haven’t seen their deepest self,” all of those things, those are good. Those are gold. When you see that, even though you feel pain, I believe that you will be filled with a sense of goodness and quiet.
Because you’ll know that you’re doing the beautiful work of intimacy that you need so much. Take a moment. You can pause the recording and think about this. What would be the micro and even macro hurts that this person would say? Be brave, dive in, take a few moments, minutes, to pause this and then answer those questions. Think again about what this person in your imagination said and what were the themes that emerged again and again. The more you understand and appreciate these precious parts of your loved one, the more this loved one will feel loved and valued by you. The more there’ll be of this hardcore sense of that true growth, that feels so good when you and the other person begin to learn each other’s language and change. As you know, you need to change. There’s almost nothing better than that. The more this happens, the more joy and connection is going to be possible in that relationship.
Thank you so much for doing this brave exercise. I imagine you have a lot to think about, a lot to hold and just these simple questions are such an act of grace, “Where is my loved one being hurt? Where are they being inspired? Where am I feeling hurt? Where am I feeling inspired?” They’re such glorious questions. Another gift in them is that you will tap into a native joy inside yourself. The more you do this and live this. I want to say another thing, which is that if some of this stuff is truly deeply wounding for you, that your partner has done or that you have done, that will take more work. That will take more talk. That will take a conversation after conversation. It could take years of work.
As they say, relationships are a process of rupture and repair. When we’re willing to do the repair work, that is such a wonderful thing. The more you do this exercise, the deeper your own selflove is going to become. Please try this exercise. You’ve probably just tried it. You can do it again and again, but I’d love it too if you went to DeeperDatingPodcast.com and click Ask Ken and share any experience, any insights, any reflections that you had with this process, with our community. Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to seeing you next week on the Deeper Dating Podcast.