got some splaining to do!"
"Splaining"...one of the favorite expressions uttered in a heavy Cuban accent by the beloved TV character of years gone by, the Latino singer and musician Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy fame. And, indeed, the adventurous Lucy, his wife, found it necessary on many an occasion to do that "splaining"... to help her husband Ricky understand the motivation for her usually unpredictable and zany behavior.
And, though we find ourselves laughing at the adventures and humor of this engaging TV couple, there is a universal truth to the request that Ricky is making to his wife. We often do need to explain ourselves for the purpose of helping others understand what it is we have done, what we feel or what it is we need from them.
I Love Lucy
This explaining can feel like a chore at times.…something we need to deal with… and, hopefully, something we can get over with as quickly as possible. And, in our haste" (like the befuddled Lucy), we tend to blurt things out in the way that our heated emotions dictate, sometimes leaving out important information, forgetting that what makes sense to us from our vantage point may not be the same perspective held by another.
Like a painter who is trying to slap a coat of paint on the wall as fast as he can, we relate with heightened emotion the final conclusion we have drawn in these circumstances, the proverbial last straw, the very thing that has happened that had prompted us to take action.
But, this last straw is only PART of the story.… and it is usually not enough for another to understand what has transpired.
This is where the true ART of "splaining" comes into the picture and it is much more complex than one might imagine.
We must first and foremost remember that our words of explanation are being interpreted through the observations, experiences, value system and beliefs of another. And we must also consider the issue of the present condition of our relationship with this person.
Most definitely, this scenario calls for a deep breath or two to center ourselves before we engage in conversation. Next, it might be helpful to imagine what our words and actions look like to another. (The previous witnessing of our own actions even as they unfold can be very helpful in this moment.) We might also want to recall what emotional reactions we have come to expect from them in this kind of circumstance.
Then, backing up a bit, we can retrace the steps of our experience, relating as we go in detail the feelings being evoked in us, especially the way the emotions have built upon each other. Having thus patiently painted the picture of how the circumstances or encounter have affected us, we have now laid the groundwork for someone to view what has transpired through OUR emotional response.
Without the careful attention given to explaining what our emotional experience has been, the listener will undoubtedly interpret it instead through his own set of values and his own emotional process.
And, yes, what I am proposing will take some energy and consideration. But there will be a huge payoff in understanding and compassion coming our way from a listener who feels very connected to us and to our experience.
Ultimately, receiving this compassion tends to help us settle into a place where we can gain our own perspective on what has just transpired.
And that's pretty sophisticated "splaining"...
sure to up the ante on our relationship ratings and help us view what's starring this season in the drama of our life!
image from www.pinterest.com