If you’re receiving a massage, it’s not strange to give feedback*.
Ooh — that spot is sensitive. Can you be more gentle?
That feels good. More please.
Ow, that hurts.
How might we use the language of the physical to expand our vocabulary for touchy-feely topics?
I saw this possibility in conversation with my partner.
We talked about my feelings of discomfort about a topic. On her end it seemed to be resolved. On my end, I felt sheepish that it still felt incomplete.
She offered to address the issue by changing her behavior. But that compromise felt like an over-correction, and I didn’t want to set a bad precedent.
That’s the spot.
That’s not the spot.
We kept going.
She generously gave space to let me explore the edges of this topic, and why I was still feeling what I was feeling.
I found one spot that still felt sore.
She gave me acknowledgement and reassurance
Poof! The tension disappeared.
An emotional knot I didn’t know was there, was suddenly untangled and released.
And this happened because my partner was massaging me in conversation.
I’m new to this and looking for more examples. Please share your experiences!
I told my partner that in retrospect, the issue felt like a sore spot and not an injury. It was still fresh, and just required a bit more space to work out the knots.
I later realized that this was a new kind of conversation. Instead of getting deeper into a fight, working out knots and kinks felt connecting.
Some examples from massage / physical world that I’m excited to try on:
- I still feel a knot around this topic and it’s tight. Can you massage it?
- This is a sore spot for me right now. Can we revisit it?
- I didn’t know a bruise was there and you accidentally bumped into it. I think that’s why I reacted the way I did.
- And when a new spot is discovered, “Ooh, that’s new. I’ll fuck with it, but can you be more gentle?”
I didn’t arrive upon the Magic Solution to All Conflict™️ (coming soon).
What I discovered was an alternate path to the binary ways I was used to dealing with my emotions.
Before, the vocabulary I used look like good or bad. Secure or insecure. Calm or irritated.
I lacked vocabulary to describe discomfort in the middle, where most of life actually happens.
With new vocabulary, I gained more range to describe my internal landscape.
I’m confident the end result is a more connective experience.
Besides, who doesn’t like a good massage?
*Certain masseuses, just as any service provider, may not be receptive to feedback.
Day 1 of 30 in the NaNoWrimo challenge!
I get the most mileage out of this type of massage by asking for things and holding space for conversation.
Originally published at https://ozchen.com on November 1, 2020.