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Loose Time


The “loose time” practice usually works when both people want to express their anger in a safe structure, in a less inhibited way. At the same time, they want to discover why they are angry, and learn how to reach the underlying need that will relieve the anger. There must be a clear agreement that neither partner will express anger in order to target the other’s core wounds in a mean-spirited way. This is also described as “not hitting below the belt.”

Loose Time is often the more desirable of the two practices when both people feel safe receiving the other’s anger with minimal restrictions. This practice has five parts.

1. In the moment, you agree to be the one to express the anger. Your partner agrees to just listen without responding, and do his best to avoid internal defensiveness, while listening from the heart as much as possible. His function is to look for your true needs that are contained in your anger, even if you can’t express them clearly. If he believes that 95 percent of what you’re saying is false, he commits to do his best to focus on the 5 percent that is true. Remember, it is difficult not to be defensive when hearing direct anger.

2. Your partner retains the right and responsibility to let you know if he is reacting defensively or has stopped listening. You also can let him know if you think he has shut down. In either case, you both agree to stop the process and assess whether you need to try this at another time or work through the ways in which he got triggered right then. There is to be no arguing about this because there is no reliable way to resolve whether or not he was listening, unless he is aware of this, himself. You agree to not hit below the belt and unnecessarily attack areas where your partner has known severe wounds.

3. Once you expressed what you were angry about, you’re then trying to see what you want from your partner as you express specific needs and wants. If you don’t know yet, both of you agree to listen for what you likely need or want. Refer to the lists of needs to help you identify the need(s). When your partner expresses what he heard, he focuses only on your needs and wants. If he couldn’t hear your needs, he tells you so. If he mentions a specific need he thought he heard, you get a chance to clarify if he heard you accurately. You make your best effort to speak as calmly and kindly as possible. If you’re still too angry, don’t say anything.

4. If you express something that you think your partner didn’t hear, he verifies what it is that you need, even if it seems repetitive. If he has any empathic positive responses, he can voice them. If he has anything negative or qualified to say, he agrees to remain silent.

5. You express appreciation for the freedom to be angry and that your partner is looking out for your needs, and hopefully express respect for your partner’s strength in being able to listen without getting lost in defending himself.

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Since 1972, Humanistic Spirituality founder Robert Strock has maintained a private spiritual and therapeutic counseling practice that specializes in purposeful living, relationships, spiritual psychology, and death and dying counseling. Humanistic Spirituality provides various spiritual workshops, guided mediations, and licensed marriage family therapists and licensed social work continuing education courses. Contact us to learn how we can help you find inner peace and spiritual awareness through our counseling, or our free guided meditations, videos, audios, writings, introspective guises and more. A warm welcome from the team at Humanistic Spirituality.

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