When your partner expresses an emotion like anger, hurt, fear, or sadness, how do you typically respond? Do you withdraw, reason with them, or take on their feelings? Do you try to fix them or make them feel better? What if they seem to blame you for how they feel? What is your reaction then? Do you end up getting upset yourself?
None of this really works – for you or for them. The card WITNESS invites you to consider an alternative response that works far better. Whenever your partner expresses how they feel, simply witness it. Let them see that you are there for them, that it is safe for them to feel whatever comes up.
Witnessing allows a partner to move through their feelings to their own natural completion. Witnessing provides support for releasing emotional upset – and can transform a situation entirely. To witness another person is to be available, centered, and compassionate. It calls on you to be nonjudgmental and noninterfering. This will later be deeply appreciated.
In witnessing, the key is for you to stay centered. Take deep, regular breaths. Be sure to keep on breathing. Feel yourself solidly connected with the earth. Let your mind be quiet and still, like a tranquil lake. If thoughts or judgments begin to surface, simply put them aside – and bring your focus back to your partner. If you have an urge to take care of their feelings or if you start to feel emotions yourself, breathe deeply and let go of that. It’s more important to stay clear, centered – and available. If you can’t do this, take time out for a while.
In witnessing, do not make the mistake of taking anything your partner says personally. If you begin to take something personally, remember that your partner is simply releasing emotional energy through their words. Allow them to release that energy. Know that it is impossible for them to be rational right now, and that what they say may not be accurate.
It may help you to realize that you are probably witnessing the release of energy from their past – feelings that have been locked up inside since childhood, a previous relationship, or earlier in your relationship. Wherever this energy is coming from, while it remains unreleased it affects both of you – building up power as long as it stays locked inside.
Recognize that, at long last, this may be a moment of great healing. The best support you can give them in their healing is to just let your partner feel whatever comes up. Trying to fix them or make them feel better only interrupts the healing process. Give them a rare gift that can really help them to heal – your absolute presence. Know that they themselves have the power to release and heal. Your presence is all that’s needed to support them in moving through their darkness.
It may be helpful to imagine the sun as you sit with them. Even in the middle of the night, you know the sun still exists. It may be a dark hour emotionally, yet you know for sure the sun will rise again. There may be clouds covering it – even the rain of tears or anger – but the sun still exists. Imagine a globe of golden sunlight filling your chest. Feel its warmth. Feel it expanding from your heart, sending its rays of light out to your partner – and imagine how they will appear when their own sun finally rises fully within them!
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