“He who angers you conquers you.”

-Elizabeth Kenny

Mindful Ecotherapy relies on the 7Cs of family resilience. These resilience factors help you to better weather the storms that come with life.

The second ‘C’ of the 7Cs of family resilience is “control.”

If someone has the ability to anger you, then that person just controlled you.

If you allow others to ‘make’ you feel angry, you have relinquished control over your own emotional well-being.

Similarly, anger is often the result of failed attempts to control others. By analyzing our beliefs about control, we learn to manage our moods so that control is no longer an issue.

Once there was a sculptor who was famous for his carvings of animals. Of all the animals he carved, his elephants were the most lifelike and inspiring. One day an art student came to him and asked him the secret to creating such beautiful elephants.

“The answer,” he said, “Is simple. You just get a block of marble and chip away anything that doesn’t look like an elephant.”

When difficulties arise in a relationship, it’s usually because we’ve set out to carve an elephant, but we suddenly find ourselves carving a bear or a donkey or some other animal instead. When this happens, we’ve gotten caught up in the details of living, and we have lost sight of our original goal, the elephant.

Go over your list of standard arguments with your partner, and decide for yourselves which ones will lead to a happier relationship, and which ones involve side issues (i.e., arguments that are not ‘carving the elephant.’) You may disagree with your partner over which ones are which, and that’s okay too.

Maybe your version of the elephant is slightly different from your partner’s version. Just remember that by sharing your vision of a happier relationship with your partner, you can both come to agreement on what sort of elephant you would like to carve together.

The first step is agreeing that you will focus only on those actions that lead to the end result you both want. Once you’ve agreed on that end result, you can both begin to ‘chip away’ anything that doesn’t look like the relationship you both want to share.

Remember to keep it focused on solutions. You can talk about the problem all day if you wish, but that doesn’t do anything to actually solve the problem.

If your intention is to have a happy, healthy relationship, then anything that doesn’t promote that is irrelevant. It’s just marble to be carved away. If you find yourself constantly discussing problems, and never reaching resolution, ask yourself, “What is my intention?” or perhaps, “Is this the elephant I’m trying to carve, or is it just excess marble?”

If both you and your partner have the same intention, then the rest is just details. You’re working towards a common goal, and all that remains is to resolve how you both approach the common goal.

If, on the other hand, you both have different intentions, then you both have different goals. This is the source of a lot of friction in relationships.

Always remember that you can only control your own intentions, and not your partner’s. Use your mindful communication skills to find common ground and to avoid the temptation to try to control others.