There is one question I want to know in the first session with a new client, “What makes you difficult to be in relationship with?” This question helps me better understand many things about how this clients relationship experiences are unfolding.
How self- reflective and introspective are you?
This question gives me a sense of how self-reflective and introspective they have been in their lives up until now. We are all difficult at times – and when things get rough in relationship and we feel more defensive because our fears are surrounding us and we become even more difficult to be in connection with. If this is a difficult thing for a client, I have an idea of an area of growth that we will need to address right away.
Who is to blame anyway – someone has to be right?
This question also give me an idea of how they are contributing to these issues. No couple’s relationship trouble is EVER simply one sided. Each person has a role to play in the dynamic of the disconnection. Taking blame off of one person and not making them the problem to be “fixed” is helpful for two reasons. One, it allows for the person to feel more in control of their side and how they are contributing. Second, spreads out the blame. It is difficult for people to soften, grow and re built connection if they are feeling defensive.
This question also helps the client understand that I get they are human. In fact, I am expecting them to be fully human. I have not had one not human walk through my door. To be human means to make mistakes, to fall into our defensive structure and lose track or our kindness, groundedness and ease. I assume everyone walking through my door experiences the whole range of human emotions and this question helps to make space for the humanness.
It is a good question to ask yourself on a somewhat regular basis. “What makes you difficult to be in relationship with?”
For me, I am most difficult when I feel threaten or scared. When I start to feel scared, I can become mean, aggressive and cold hearted. I can shut out those who love me the most in an instant. The complex part for me is that I can become fearful and not even know I am scared. My work has been recently to notice when my body feels scared. Once I can acknowledge my fear, I can meet the fear instead of be in reaction to others.