I love unpacking, it means I’m home. Granted, I haven’t unpacked a suitcase in a while but I love unpacking disagreements, challenges, and situations that I would love to have been handled better. Why? Because it means I am better prepared for next time.
Don’t get me wrong, I can complain about the best of them, but when I am complaining I’m usually quite closed-minded and it only leaves me feeling either more riled up or further deflated. I imagine it doesn’t make the listener feel great either!
I find when I ‘unpack situations’ and bring a more open mind to the table, it consistently leaves me feeling more hopeful, more empowered, and more in control than I had been previously. And, as an added bonus, if I can help someone else save face (even if they were ‘wrong’), it’s a classy thing to do, too.
Complaining VS Unpacking
Think about something or someone you have complained about, or to, recently.
- How did it make you feel?
- Did it help resolve a situation?
- Did it help prepare you for a similar situation that may occur in the future?
- Did it help you to understand yourself or the other person better or help them understand you better?
Planning an unpacking session with a partner, boss, colleague, friend or child doesn’t have to cause great fear and after a while, you may even come to ‘enjoy’ it at some level.
To set it up for success, come with an open mind and positive intention. Unpacking is stating what happened (just the facts) and then expressing how it made you feel (your feelings are your feelings, no one else can tell you what they should be). Listen actively. You want to feel heard, you want them to feel heard.
Placing a time boundary around the unpack (or debrief, if you prefer that word) is also a great idea, so it doesn’t turn into a never-ending unpacking event. The goal is to be fact-focused, feeling-facing, and solution-seeking!
You are going to have disagreements (maybe even more in an Uber-stressful pandemic world) no matter how ‘lovely-a-person’ you are. I hope that by putting the ‘unpacking tool’ in your kit, it will be easier for you to move forward, faster!
Cheering for you, even in tough times – especially in tough times. Steph