The Life-Changing Verbal Phrases My Husband & I Regularly Exchange
Conscious communication creates compassionate collaboration.
Communication is how animals express, share, and exchange information. Both human and non-human animals convey verbal and nonverbal transmissions of our thoughts and feelings as a way to illustrate our reality to another. While human animals possess a range of ways in which to assert ourselves, communicating in a mindful manner to genuinely and effectively convey our reality is quite complex. Vulnerability and empathy serve as the foundation for eliciting critically and consciously prepared words and body language to express our truth. And a heedful choice of diction, semantics, and tone is crucial when communicating effectively.
Here are some phrases my husband and I consistently utilize to accurately and effectively communicate our current state to one another — all with grace and kindness.
“How Can I Be Amazing For You Right Now?”
This is an incredible question I adopted from life coach, Amy E. Smith. When we are distressed, we want others to do three things for us:
A simple and effective way to meet this trifecta is by asking, “How can I be amazing for you right now?”
A commonly ineffective way in which people try to help a distressed loved one is by attempting to immediately resolve or create a solution for the issue. We know this often backfires because sometimes people just want to freely express their feelings of distress without guilt or shame and have an attentive person listen with compassion; creating an immediate solution invalidates the person’s present feelings of distress, thus revoking the presence of empathy. And without empathy, genuine validation cannot occur.
Asking a loved one how you can support them instead of declaring what you think and assume they need, empathetically gives them control in dictating how they want to be treated in their personal time of discontentment. This is a method that serves both you and your loved one because they are given the abundant opportunity to ask for exactly what they need to help them in that moment and you are granted the opportunity to lovingly provide the solution! Everyone benefits!
As such, whenever I or my husband, John, is feeling down, frustrated, annoyed, scared, or any time of discontentment, we ask each other, “How can I be amazing for you right now?” and it works every time as an effective way to co-regulate each other.
“The Story I’m Telling Myself Is…”
I learned this golden phrase from the great Brené Brown. Our brains like the pattern of narrative stories. So when grappling with emotional strain, humans try to self-regulate by creating self-supporting stories in our heads in an attempt to make sense of chaos and create a solution; I like to call this assumption gumption. And sometimes that solution is created at the expense of another because the supposed “answer” was birthed from a story not based in fact or reality — a counterproductive effort.
With that, an effective way to communicate and collaborate with a loved one is by vulnerably and honestly sharing the truth about what is occurring in our minds by stating: “The story I’m telling myself is…”
John and I use this whenever we have a dispute we struggle to resolve and it works like a charm each time to both self and co-regulate.
“How Are You Feeling in This Moment?” // “How Are You Feeling Physically & Emotionally Right Now?”
These are thoughtful questions I created! I oscillate between asking these two questions, depending on my mood or the present situation, simply to drop myself into John’s reality and empathize with whatever he shares in that exact moment! Asking these questions strengthens our partnership because they are deeply personal and intimate.
Most of the time, we disingenuously ask people upon our initial interaction: “How are you?” and expect an inauthentic and socially standard, “Good, how are you?” and expect to receive a boring, “Good!” right back. First, there is no substance to this! Second, how often to we actually ask our partners or loved ones this genuine question at a random, unscripted time? Not often! We see this question of “how are you” to be one of social etiquette and not a genuine gateway to the reality of another.
I’ll ask John, “How are you feeling in this moment?” right now as I type this — he’s sitting right next to me.
With a smile, he joyfully said: “Fine!”.
Not enough information. I continued with: “Say more!”, (which is the next phrase), and he continued with a genuine response about what he’s experiencing emotionally right now, what he will experience in the coming minutes, and how he feels about what to expect in the coming minutes. Lovely! He just dropped me into his world for a moment and that was some pretty cool intimacy if you ask me!
Brené taught me this one, too! Sometimes people don’t fully express what they are feeling or experiencing in a given moment, just like John initially demonstrated when I asked him, “How are you feeling in this moment?”. Don’t give up on the conversation! When this happens, all we need to do is follow up with a simple: “Say more.” and we have created a non-threatening opportunity for a genuine and authentic expression of our loved one’s feelings and thoughts clearly. Responding with “Say more” also shows our genuine interest in our loved one’s reality, it expressed that we find them interesting. And isn’t that what we want? To find our loved ones, especially our partners, to be endlessly interesting? Always!
“Everything Is Figureoutable!”
This phenomenal phrase is a magical mindset coined by the amazing Marie Forleo and can be found in her book, Everything is Figureoutable. Technically, her mother coined the phrase decades ago and Marie has taken it, run with it, and turned these three words into a life-changing mantra that has undoubtedly changed my life, John’s life, and our life together, our relationship.
Whenever either of us is feeling defeated, frustrated, or paralyzed by limiting beliefs, we fiercely and lovingly say, “Everything is figureoutable.” — because it is! John even has several post-its posted in various locations in our home to serve as a strong reminder for us both that everything is figureoutable for us as individuals and as a partnership. Thank you, Marie!