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A complaint equals an unmet need and is a cowardly way to express that need.
“When a woman gets emotionally intense, a mediocre man wants to calm her down and discuss it, or leave and come back when she is “sane.” A superior man penetrates her mood with imperturbable love and unwavering consciousness. If she still refuses to live more fully in love, after a time, he lets her go.” ~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man
This is following on the blog heels of A Letter to Men—The Anatomy of a Woman’s Complaint.
In that blog, I explain how a woman’s complaint can be navigated successfully and even used by men as the gift and tool that it is.
Gentlemen, use a woman’s complaint as a barometer to how you are living your highest purpose—or not living it. See her complaint as holding a deeper meaning for you.
“A man should hear his woman’s complaints like warning bells, and then do his best to align his life with his truth and purpose. Her complaint should be valued as a reminder to “get it together,” and perhaps as an indication of how. But more often than not, the specifics of her complaint do not describe the real, underlying action or tendency that needs to be changed.” ~ David Deida
Are you promising things you can’t deliver? Even small, seemingly insignificant breaches of integrity are important and will inform women how you are or are not living your highest purpose.
She can feel when you are not in your integrity. If you are not impeccable with your word, she begins to feel she can’t trust you. When she feels she can’t trust you, she doesn’t feel safe.
When she doesn’t feel safe, she will be in pain and confusion. When she is in pain and confusion, she will express that as sadness, fear, depression, anger, withdrawal, etc. When she is in that state, she will most often bring it you in the form of anger.
Another very common woman reaction to lack of integrity in her man will be her need to feel like she has to man-up. She will become hard and masculine, building a wall of masculinity between you two, because she feels—even if on a subconscious level—that you are not strong in your masculinity and are not leading.
She will feel like you are not to be trusted, so she has to be masculine to meet her own safety requirements. If you are not leading—in life and in your relationship, she will take on that role—much to the detriment of your life, relationship and attraction to her.
Most women rate safety/security/certainty very high on Tony Robbins’ list of The 6 Human Needs. If we feel that you are not safe because we can’t trust you, we may not know that’s why we feel so “off,” but we will feel that “off-ness”—probably even more than you feel it.
How to help a woman feel safe with you in general but especially when she is in the middle of being emotionally intense/wild?
“…you do so by standing your ground and loving so strongly that only love prevails. You can’t quit when you seem to fail, but rather, you must learn from your failures and return to love. Give your gift. Like wrestling a steer or surging the ocean waves, mastery involves blending with your woman’s powerful energy and feeling the rise and fall of the moment, without lapsing in presence for a second.
You’re going to get stamped on by the steer, you’re going to get swamped by the ocean, and you’re going to get hurt by your woman. This is how you learn. You get up, dust yourself off, swim to shore, and turn and face your woman again. The only options are fear or mastery. You can quit, you can choose small steer and tiny waves, you can wait for your woman to calm down, or you can even threaten her. Or, you can take the moment as a challenge to your ability to conquer the world, and your woman, with love.”
~ David Deida
For the Ladies
Remember that men are hard-wired to make us happy and to fix things. When you take a complaint/pain to him, he is going to want to fix it. He is going to want to fix you, in fact. Either that or he is going to want to retreat—because that is what men do when they are stressed. He may want you to be rational and calm—like a man.
If he doesn’t retreat, because he loves and values you, he will bring to you, as Mark Gungor says, his very best man solutions: 1. Fix it/you, 2. Tell you not to think about it, “Just don’t think about it. Put it out of your mind.” Because men can actually do that. And it’s their go-to when they’re stressed.
Women, however, because of how our brains work (very unlike men’s), are unable to do that. Our brains never shut down. We are always making connections and always thinking millions of things all at the same time.
Because we connect everything to everything else—in our brains and in our lives and to emotions—it is pretty much impossible for a problem in one area of our lives to not affect every other part of our lives.
If we are upset about one (even seemingly small) thing in our lives, it will affect everything we do and think and live and say. It just does. That’s the physiology of the female brain.
So don’t let anyone (including yourself!) shame you into thinking that you should be able to just turn that shit off liking flipping a switch—because chances are, you can’t.
And don’t let anyone tell you that emotions are wrong. Emotions can’t be wrong—or right. They just exist.
Emotions define us as feminine. The Divine Feminine aspect is about wildness, emotions, senses, the physical body, power that is both soft and fierce flowing from us in the form of emotions and love.
It is this wildness, the emotions and that softness coupled with power that make us feminine.
“A happy woman is a woman relaxed in her body and heart: powerful, unpredictable, deep, potentially wild and destructive, or calm and serene, but always full of life, surrendered to and moved by the great force of her oceanic heart.” ~ David Deida
And it is a gift to men when we bring them these emotions. Without us, men would stay in their heads and seldom move down into their hearts and/or bellies. They would become rigid and obsessed. And our pain/complaints/emotions can inform them about whether they are living their integrity or not.
Having said all of that toward clarity, it is also important to say that this doesn’t give anyone the right to use emotions to purposely shame, degrade or hurt anyone else.
There may be people—both men and women—whose motives are questionable, who don’t care about fighting fairly, about not damaging others with their words and anger.
Don’t be one of those.
I know that feminine emotions feel drastic, immediate and all consuming. And if we don’t talk about them, we feel like we’re going to explode. The longer we hold them in, the worse they get, the angrier we get, the sadder, the more depressed, etc.
But that doesn’t give anyone license to carelessly cut into someone with anger, to purposely wound. We are still responsible for ourselves, our words, the way we express our needs, our pain, our emotions.
Do you want to be around someone who constantly uses their anger destructively and purposely against you, shaming you, dominating you, trying to make you wrong and make you feel bad—someone who always has to “win” at your expense?
No, and no one else does either. Even in our femininity of owning and being proud rather than ashamed of our emotions, we must remember that misuse of power is never okay.
We cannot wound out of anger and on purpose to hurt someone and expect him or her to tolerate such behavior. And you should not tolerate it from anyone else, either.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” ~ Voltaire
And the energy of the feminine essence is absolutely powerful. Just ask any man how it feels to be facing an angry, upset, crying, powerfully emoting woman.
Avoiding the Complaint Meltdown
Think about what Alison Armstrong says about complaints: A complaint equals an unmet need and is a cowardly way to express that need. So how about taking some time to have a look at what is underneath the complaint/fear/pain before taking it to him?
How about being brave?
And how about remembering that he loves you and that he is hard-wired to make you happy? And remember something else Alison says, “What if no one is misbehaving? What if there’s a good reason for everything everyone does?”
What if the man you love is just trying to help you, albeit in the only way he knows how—in a masculine way?
Sure there are those that want to wound on purpose, out of defensiveness, fear, habit, passive aggressiveness, past wounds, etc. But think about assuming positive intent first.
This is a practice/habit that could change your entire life.
So consider taking some time to unpack your anger/pain first. Ask yourself what’s the unmet need underneath that. Did an old button from childhood or a former relationship get pushed?
What are you afraid of? Is it vulnerability, itself, that confuses and scares you? It scares me!
In our world, it seems that anger and blame are more socially acceptable forms of emotional expression than fear, pain, sadness, or any admission of any kind of vulnerability. In her research, Brene Brown found that most people defined “blame” as “a way to discharge anger.”
And anger often seems to be a defense, a cover-up—usually in response to a more vulnerable/scary feeling that needs to be ignored or denied for fear of that vulnerability being seen as a weakness, because we tend to view the admission/allowance of vulnerability as a weakness and not as the pure courage that it really is.
Being vulnerable leaves us open to pain, to getting hurt, because not only do we see an admission of vulnerability as a weakness, there is also, unfortunately, the commonly acceptable response to the recognition of vulnerability: Attack.
Hit them where it hurts and where they’re vulnerable in order to “win” and prove that we are stronger, smarter and better than they are. It is sad but often true.
When faced with the admission and recognition of vulnerability—yours or anyone else’s—respect it for the pure bravery it really is and have the courage to address it as such, to speak to and from that place—with respect, being honored to be in that sacred, private place.
Please know that not everyone will appreciate your vulnerability. It will freak some folks out. Vulnerability and authenticity are a choice you make. I highly recommend them, but cannot say they are easy.
Quite bluntly, they scare the hell out of me. But you can’t unknow something, right? Having crossed that boundary into a more vulnerable, authentic way of living, I just can’t live with myself anymore if I am less than that. So I keep forging ahead, hoping it will get easier to live this way.
And while I can’t say it’s easy, the benefits and the amazing people and events that are showing up in my life because of it, make my efforts absolutely worth it.
So instead of instantly blasting your man with blind anger, sit with it and dig for the need under your complaint. After some introspection and a look at Tony Robbins’ The 6 Human Needs, perhaps, maybe you find that what you need to present to him instead is a heartfelt, vulnerable admission that you have a strong need to feel safe.
Using the same scenario as the previous post, for instance, respectfully tell him that when he doesn’t follow through with what he says he is going to do, you begin to feel you can’t trust him. Talk about the pain and fear it brings up in you. And when you begin to feel that you can’t trust him, you feel unsafe—in the world and in the relationship.
Then you might talk about how frightened you feel and how you want to feel safe and how most of the time you do feel safe with him, and how much you love the way he makes you feel safe most of the time.
Is there anything he needs to be able to follow through? Perhaps he needs you to remind him nicely in a day or two, because he is so busy being a man—focused and driven and out in the word making things happen (because he loves you and wants to take care of you), that in that focused state, it slips his mind.
Is there a block, maybe, that he’s working with, so that he is unable (because of his own baggage and buttons, etc.) to follow through?
When we admit to and come from that place of authentic vulnerability in ourselves, it invites, and gives permission to, others to do the same.
What if he gets defensive or angry anyway?
Stay in your heart and belly—breathe evenly and slowly and deliberately from low in your belly. Take your time. Do not raise your voice.
On some level (and because women’s brains are made the way they are, this is something totally possible) keep encouraging yourself to stay calm while at the same time letting your emotions/pain fuel your voice and words.
Stay strong in the conviction that you have a right to your emotions and that you have a right to express them—responsibly.
Stay in the vulnerability, the truth of you. Stay strong and soft—and lean into the discomfort of how difficult the process is. Just continue to speak with intensity, love and authenticity, knowing you will be proud, later, to look back and know you spoke your truth with soft, intense force.
“Don’t say what will give you “pleasure” in the moment, because that’s likely to be something reactive. Stop and breathe and then say something that you’ll be proud of later when you look back and see how well you handled the situation.”
~ George J. Thompson, Verbal Judo, the Gentle Art of Persuasion
Make yourself control your voice and your emotions, but let the intensity and power from deep within you be very evident (it gets easier with practice). Keep imagining the center of your chest open and relaxed.
(Let me just say right here how difficult and even embarrassing this can seem. But stay in your integrity! If you want to live vulnerably and authentically, just do it. Stop waiting for someone to give you permission! You give you permission. Don’t let anyone pull you out of it or talk you out of it. You can do it! It just takes courage and practice. And remember that even when you seem to be failing at it—and you probably really aren’t: Dignity is a choice.)
Put the intensity of all that vulnerable discomfort and possible anger and pain and emotions behind the soft firmness of your voice. You may even be weeping at this point, because of the intensity and emotions that are behind your words, powering them.
That’s okay. All of that force, that power, has to escape somehow. Speak it and let it leak from you eyes if need be. Be proud that you are able to be so open and honest and authentic and vulnerable.
This is feminine power. This is the soft-powerful energy of femininity that will make you proud, later, when you see how you harnessed it and directed it after you let it take you to new places of authenticity and vulnerability within yourself so that you could reveal those places to him.
Do not allow yourself to be pulled out of your softness, that vulnerable heart-place you’re in. Do not match his defensiveness or display of anger.
Don’t become hard, masculine, dominant or aggressive. Do not attempt to dominate him or subdue him—that is masculine energy, and he will most likely polarize into passive, feminine energy.
Either that, or he will become even more masculine—which may lead to some form of posturing and/or aggression in the form, usually, of anger or more defensiveness.
Tell him kindly, respectfully, that it is not your intention to cause defensiveness in him, but only to bring to him your truth, your pain and your open heart in hopes of finding a vulnerable, authentic place where the two of you can meet.
Keep the intensity.
In this way, you will be able to stay powerfully in your feminine energy, inviting him to polarize and stay in his masculine energy. In this way, you will not be hard and masculine and unreachable in your pain/anger. You will still be open, even in and during, the pain and discomfort.
It just might give you both, together, a place from which to dive into a whole new ocean of understanding, depth and intimacy.
Let me know how it goes. And when you have mastered this, contact me, will ya? Because I will be wanting to know how you did that so that I can do it too.
Author: Grace Cooley
Editor: Renee Picard
Image: Wikimedia Commons