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For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live

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Three Questions to Smooth Out Conflict and Increase Understanding

women talking listening

One of the most useful things I’ve learned over the last few years is that it is better to aim for understanding versus winning when it comes to disagreements with the ones we love. For many years — including those competing with my sister for attention and respect and those competing with my ex-husband for most competent and correct— I thought it was better to come out on top of each argument. I had to be smarter, quicker, meaner or more right. Those years were awful.

I learned the hard way that empathy and listening lead to success more than superiority.

Recently, I’ve encountered a few stories and experiences that pointed out three questions that create empathy and therefore greater understanding of another person’s perspective. Instead of inflaming conflict, these questions lead to relief.

Here are the stories that go along with the questions:

Glint in the eye

Many of us have found ourselves mad at, disappointed or sad about the relationships we had with one or both of our parents. Author of The Whole Brain Child and clinical professor of psychiatry, Dan Siegel, says that a positive narrative about our lives helps us transcend insecurity. If we can take the story we tell ourselves about our childhood and parental relationships and turn it into something that makes sense, we have more emotional resilience.

Dr. Warren Farrell, author of The Boy Crisis, says there is a question we can ask ourselves about our father that generates understanding and empathy for him. The question is, “When do you recall your father having a glint in his eye — an excited sparkle without worry, preoccupation, or thought of criticism, of either you or himself?” I believe this question works for mothers too.

It is nice to think of our parents as happy and joyful. They had enthusiasm and warm feelings about something.

Then think about when your parents did not have a glint in their eye. If your parents were like mine, that was probably a lot of the time. They were busy with work and worries and raising a family. They gave up that glint or lost it to problems or obligations.

Our parent’s lack of attention, depression, alcoholism, absence, anger, etc. make a little more sense (not that it’s an excuse for abuse or neglect) when we see how our parent’s glint was snuffed out. It does not provide a complete excuse for the troubles we had with our parent(s) but it is a good start. That question could apply to our partners too.

Lessons from camp

Dr. Farrell offers another insight based on a boy at camp. His name was ‘Nathan’. No one liked him in his cabin. The camp counselor (Dr. Farrell) asked the other boys in the cabin if they thought Nathan was happy. The boys had not thought about it, but all agreed he probably was not happy. Over the next week, the counselor and other boys in the cabin made it their mission to make Nathan feel good. They complimented him on his marksmanship. They even asked him for advice on how to shoot. Each day Nathan got nicer and he stood a little taller.boy by fire camping

When we are in conflict with someone, “Is that person happy?” is a good question to ask ourselves. It slows us down and makes us think about what is going on inside of them. We may see them as their anger or defensiveness, but if we stop to think about how truly happy they are, it makes them seem more human and relatable. We are more likely to listen and empathize with them.

Why do they attack?

Lastly, one of my friends was struggling with her relationship with her brother. They live together and seemed to fight all the time. The situation was miserable. They were either exploding at each other or tip-toeing around trying to avoid each other’s land mines.

I asked if my friend ever got vulnerable with her brother when things were heated. Did she lay down her sword? She said she did but that her brother always attacked her.

It all came to a head with a  blowout argument last week. After hearing about her brother’s temper for the hundredth time, I asked, “What is he afraid of?” My friend paused. Through the phone line I could hear her gears turning. It seems he is afraid of getting hurt, being vulnerable, showing feelings, losing his girlfriend, losing his job, etc.

After their big blowout argument, they both attempted to repair. I was not there, but I think openness and empathy played a big part in bringing them together. Thinking about what our loved one is afraid of, again makes them seem human and approachable. Because they both came to the middle with maturity and not defensiveness and anger, they gained understanding. My friend and her brother felt calm in their home, together.

Why the questions work

All three of the questions: 1. What gives/gave them a glint in their eye? 2. Are they happy? and 3. What are they afraid of? help us see inside our significant other. They make us pause and see the other person’s soft underbelly. Instead of looking like the enemy, they now look more like us.

Please let me know if you have any special disarming questions. I’d love to hear what works for you. What gave your parent(s) a glint in their eye? 

Photo by Emily Goodhart on Unsplash

Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash


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  1. Julie February 15, 2019 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    GREAT questions and they absolutely work at keeping our hearts open! I’ve been asking “what is he afraid of?” about our current administration and president ~ it helps me have more compassion for the hurt boy who desperately needs to be right. I can relate, lol. Thanks Brenda! xoxoxox

    • Brenda Knowles February 22, 2019 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Great way to reconsider our current administration’s motives — to consider what they’re afraid of. Thanks for the suggestion. Compassion heals! Nice to hear from you Julie. 🙂

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