Getting To The Core Of Conflict, "Parts" Work, And What We're Learning In Our Work With Clients!

May 10, 2024

In today's episode, we discuss why we decided to keep our own last names when we married. We also talk about what we're each learning this week in our coaching work with clients, getting to the core of conflicts, and "parts" work.

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If you prefer reading, you can read the transcript here: 

Welcome to the Advanced Relationship Podcast. You're here today with your hosts. I'm Jenny Morrow, and this is?

Bryce Bauer. We're a married couple.

We are, we are a married couple.

Even though we have different last names.

Cool, maybe one day we'll talk about that.

Let's talk about it right now.

Okay, let's talk about it right now.

Yeah, so, Jenny decided not to change her name, and I also decided not to change my last name. And how did that go?

Yeah, it went really good. You know, I think initially it was kind of scary because I just assumed that that's what I would do. That's what I had always seen done.

It's what I imagined doing. I imagined initially we were gonna have a child or children, and I wanted them to have a family name. And so I really wanted a name that we would have together.

And I also didn't want to change my last name if Bryce wasn't also willing to change his last name. So it also felt good to realize that and to be okay stepping into marriage, keeping our last names, and knowing that if or when we came to a place where we wanted a family name, we could figure that out. And maybe we would always have a different opinion about that.

Maybe I would want a family name and you wouldn't. And I just kind of came to the conclusion that that was not a deal breaker for me in terms of getting married. And when it didn't work out to have children and we decided to not pursue that path any further, then it was nice to feel like we could do whatever we wanted to do for us.

Totally, yeah. And I didn't feel much resistance to Jenny not changing her last name. I know some guys have the story with more traditional mindsets that that's something a woman should do.

It means that she's your woman in a way if she takes on your last name, but I never really, really saw it that way. And it was a pretty easy decision for me as far as not changing my name. I just never wanted to do that.

So I was able to put myself in Jenny's shoes and see like, okay, I don't want to change mine. I just thought it'd be helpful to talk about that for a sec because some people might think that that's weird or that there has to be a lot of struggle there, but there really doesn't. So if you have the same name, that's fine, but you can also choose not to, and it's totally okay.

And I do acknowledge for a lot of people because the majority of people have children and I know that that can add an extra layer of how to navigate certain things. And there's still a lot of people that choose to either maintain their own last names or come up with a collaborative family name. And so there's just, there's options.

So today I really wanted to hear from Bryce a little bit about what he's learning in his work right now and share a little bit about what I'm learning. So since we do a lot of client work and coaching sessions, I just thought it'd be fun to talk about what we're learning. Do you feel curious to hear like, what are you feeling like you're learning?

Yeah. So I think I'm developing a deeper understanding constantly. I think it's infinite too, of these layers of truth, you know?

And whenever Jenny and I get into a struggle, I'm working with a couple or we're working with a couple that's in a struggle, I think about like, what layer are we at here? And sometimes it's like more intuitive. It's more like a felt sense.

But an example might be like, we might be arguing about how to clean things, right? And there's this surface layer. And sometimes what people do is they don't really know how to get into those deeper layers to understand them.

So they'll try to come up with solutions, or they'll just blame the person. They'll label the person as like, not clean, or they don't listen well. Or they'll come up with reasons why they do X, Y, or Z.

Like, here's why I have X, Y, Z behavior. But I find that when we can presence that, we can often dig into the deeper layers where that's where we'll actually resolve issues. Sometimes for good, if we can really understand them at these deeper layers.

So, you know, I often find it boils down to some version of like, do I, can I trust you here? Like, we're in this thing together, you know, potentially this lifelong thing, we're sharing so much together. So like, what is, what is this chore have to do about, like, our underlying trust of each other, our security about the relationship?

And then sometimes that will tie into childhood issues, you know, like maybe you didn't have a parent that you could really trust to be there with you. So on some subconscious level, it's like by you not listening to me and following through with the thing I asked you to do, I don't know that I can really trust you to show up in bigger ways for me, just like my parents didn't show up in bigger ways for me. So I think about, you know, we're always trying to work to get to these deeper truths, because that's where you really resolve issues.

Because sometimes even if you solve the surface issue, let's say, okay, I agree, like I will do the dishes more often. It might not feel fully resolved, because something else will pop up, right? Oh, you forgot to pick the kids up from school.

That's another reason why I don't think I can trust you. Instead of really sitting with and understanding, yeah, I have this thing in me that's constantly feeling out whether or not I can trust you. And they're branches, right?

Like they can be talked about and dealt with, but what is it the root of this problem? It's like I might have an issue with really trusting your word. And if we can talk about that, it doesn't mean that you always have to follow through with everything you ever say you're gonna do or else I can't trust you.

But when I can understand that deeper part in me and you can understand that part of me, we can work with it in a different way. So when there's a chore that doesn't get done, for example, we can say, oh, is this triggering up that story again that you can't really trust me? Yeah, okay.

And maybe we take a deep breath with that, and it's like, okay, let's just be here with that. You can explore, is that really true? You might look for examples of ways that, I really can trust you the majority of the time, but in this moment, for some reason, that's coming up again.

And being able to talk about that and work with it and hold space for it, sometimes can really fully resolve that issue in that moment instead of figuring out the reasons and arguing about what's the overall standard that every American household has for cleanliness and like, well, my brother or sister or friend, they keep it even cleaner than us and blah, blah, blah. It doesn't matter, right? That's why I think people get into these circular patterns of just talking on the surface.

So one thing I'm learning is that there's always deeper levels and we'll know when we get there because there will be a felt sense of, ah, I finally get it, I get you. I think we have a lot of these moments and that's what really helps us build a sense of deeper security with each other.

I feel curious as you're talking about it, what brought this up in your awareness? What brought you to be thinking about this?

Well, I think most recently we were working with a couple and they had this issue come up, which sometimes I run this thought experiment where it's like, okay, if person A was able to just be like, yeah, I get it, I get that was hard, and I can see where I messed up there. And person B was like, oh, I feel like you really get me. They actually probably could have cruised through that one.

But the fact that it had so much charge to it and it had lingered for over a year, and it was coming up again in a different context, it told me that they never really got to the root issue when the thing happened a year ago. And they didn't do anything illegal, and no one hit each other. I mean, it was an honest miss, and at least one person could see that.

But yeah, I think it's just fresh in my mind because so much of what we do with couples is like, where they're bringing up things, and then all of a sudden, there's all this other baggage that comes up from the past, and we have to frame this for them. Like, hey, I don't think you got to the core issue of the thing that happened a while ago, or maybe the thing that happened way back in your childhood. And so that's what we're working on here.

We don't wanna just give you a simple solution or a simple listening exercise. That might not do it. We're here to help you understand the core issue more deeply.

And when you do, and sometimes it takes a lot of work and practice, it will, your body will relax. And that trust can come back if both people are really working on it. So I think it's just fresh in my mind because we've been doing a lot of, we did an intensive last weekend with a couple for like 12 hours.

And there's a lot of that coming up. And then yesterday we had another session. So this is always fresh in my mind, I think when we're doing our couple's work.

Yeah, I love that you're talking about this one because it's something that I think when I am in those moments, when I am triggered by something that you've done or said, and sometimes it really feels like that's the whole of the issue. And it's hard in those moments to think about what the core might be from the past, because that's just not in my awareness. And I remember going to a trauma conference years ago, and they talked about this idea that if your charge is above a four or a five out of a scale of one to 10, that's a really good indicator that you're in the past.

And so sometimes I'll be like, I know that my charge is really high, so that's a good indicator that something from the past is there. And it doesn't mean that there might not be something to work out with us as well, but that like you're saying, it'd be a lot easier to like see each other and kind of move through it with all the baggage of the past attached to it. It just becomes so much more magnified.

It like magnifies the present issue. And so I think a lot of times people think like, I want to just be able to move past things in my life. I don't want to have to go into the past.

And one of the things I would often think is like, the past can be like, it can be here in the present. It can be magnifying things in the present if you haven't been able to see it with the clarity it needs. And so I just love that you're talking about this.

Yeah, yeah. And I tend to look at things through like a sports lens or like an athletic lens. And it's like, you know, if you hadn't taken care of yourself that well, and you were overweight, and you're like, you know, initially we're gonna have to really work on this, and it's gonna hurt more.

And the progress is gonna be slower. And someone were to say, well, I don't really wanna do that. I do want this end result, but I don't really wanna do that stuff.

You won't ever get to the point where, you know, you create more muscle memory, you become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it can actually, some of that pain or discomfort can even become enjoyable. So I think about, you know, the way that we work through things, it's not always comfortable, but it's like, okay, this is a familiar place.

We've been here. This is gonna be tough. And I know that when we get to that point and come out the other side, I'm actually gonna feel stronger.

I'm gonna feel more capable. I'm gonna feel into my resiliency. And I think that's really what security looks and feels like.

It's not so much that we just get to a secure place and then we don't have issues. It's like, man, we can really hold a lot here. We're strong, and we can hold, if that thing from the past comes up again, we've been here, we got this, we know how to work with it.

It might take some time and effort, but we got it. So I like to set that context for people, because some people are hoping that we can deal with a core issue, and then it's so uncomfortable that I never want to talk about that again. And it's like, how can we help you be more comfortable just talking about anything?

Like when nothing is really off the table in the relationship, then we don't have to tighten up anytime we see it going there. It's like, okay, it's starting to go there now. And we know we have tools and skills to work with that.

But the overall mindset is that nothing is a problem, and anything can be used as grist for the mill for growth and for more understanding. And we have a lot of experience that we can come out of that feeling much better. And I think we're getting better and better at that.

Yeah, that's my spiel on security and layers of truth.

I love that. Thank you, Bryce. Okay, do you want me to share something I've been learning?

Yeah, go ahead, Jen.

Well, it's cool that it's kind of transitioning as you're talking about the security and the process of building security, because I've been thinking about the idea of parts work, and that's been in my awareness a lot over the last week, week and a half. And it also came up working with a couple recently. And I was thinking a little bit about this idea that we all have different parts in us.

And parts work is really interesting because it goes all the way back to the very first kind of founders of psychotherapy. So Freud, Carl Jung both talked about this idea of like multiple parts. Carl Jung talks about like the collective unconscious that's in all of us.

And we have all these kind of aspects that can be expressed for different archetypes. And Freud talks about the different aspects of us that are in the conscious, the unconscious, the subconscious, the ego. And then now in modern therapeutic models, there's also models that orient around this idea of parts work.

And probably the most well known right now is called internal family systems, which is such a beautiful model. And internal family systems kind of talks about this idea that there are no bad parts, that all of what's inside of us is valid and is there for a reason. And once we can understand it and see it through like a clear, clean, accurate lens, it can rebalance with the rest of the parts in a way that we can experience greater health, greater resiliency.

And so it's an interesting thing because when we're doing relationship work with two people, for example, with a couple, we're helping them come back into security or do repairs or stay in a place of being able to maintain connection. Or if they kind of lose it, how do they come back to it? And one of the things that a lot of attachment-based theories talk about is the idea that security is actually built through rupture and repair.

Kind of like maybe what you're talking about with exercise or athletics. Like it's actually the muscles. I mean, you didn't talk about this specifically, but muscles are built through rupture and repair, rupture and repair.

Now, if there's too much of a rupture, then something splits and it doesn't come back together. You know, if there's too much chaos, things self-destruct. If there's too much order, then things can stagnate or atrophy.

So if there's never any rupturing happening within a container that's like its capacity, if that rupturing is not happening and allowing there to be repair, then there's not a strengthening process that happens either. And I just find that extremely fascinating because I think one of the things that brought it up was working with couples. But another thing that brought it up for me was thinking a little bit about my fear of flying.

And we just bought tickets to Switzerland to go to Switzerland with my family this year, which I'm really excited about. And I'm really scared of flying right now. And it feels like I've been working on it for a few years now, and sometimes it feels better, sometimes it feels worse.

And I thought, what? It kind of feels like a stuck point. Like, I haven't gotten to that core and felt that full resolution with it.

And I thought, like, what is it that I'm missing here? And kind of started thinking about this idea that I'm wondering if there aren't parts of me here. And I've attended to certain parts as I've worked on the fear of flying, but I haven't attended to other parts.

And so that's been a really interesting thing to think about. And there have been, like, a few, like, subtle cues that have given me a hint that, like, oh, I wonder if there's a part that's oriented in this way that I actually haven't even been aware of. So I didn't know to work with it because it wasn't in my awareness.

And there's been a few things I've been paying attention to that are giving me subtle cues that I think what's happening is there are parts that I actually haven't been able to work with yet. So it's been really helpful as I started to see that and started to think about it in terms of like, I'm wondering if the moment I started to feel afraid of this because it wasn't something I used to feel scared of, I'm wondering if those moments weren't actually moments of me having internal splits, parts of me that were once connected becoming unconnected, just like happens in relationship where you and I can feel connected, then something can happen and we suddenly feel unconnected. And we have to do the repair process to get back into connection.

The benefit of the repair process in those moments is that we come back into connection, and now we actually know each other better than we even did before the rupture happened. And I'm thinking about that even for the internal system, how we can actually, parts of us could rupture based on something that's happening, and then they can stay split, which keeps us in a trauma response or they can come back together and we can actually do repair with these parts in such a way that we get to know ourselves better. These parts get to know each other better, and the whole thing is just more aware and call it enlightened than it was prior to that rupture happening.

And it feels like exciting to know that that could be a possibility, and that maybe there is a way through this thing that feels so difficult that I haven't gotten resolution on yet.

Do you have an example of like what two parts could be, like how you might label those or work with those?

Yeah, so I noticed like with my fear of flying, there's the part of me that feels terrified and panic and just wants to run away. And then there's the part of me that wants to control everything that's happening. So they're kind of related, right?

Like if I don't feel like I control it, then I want to run away. And it's like a feeling of like, well, if I don't have control, then I don't want to do this because I feel panicky. But the reason why it started to come up, and the reason why I started to wonder about this part that wants to control, because I've worked a lot with the part of me that wants to run, but I haven't worked as much with the part of me that wants to control.

And so I started thinking about some indicators that that part of me is maybe the part that needs a little bit more attention right now. And so I've been thinking about this idea of like coming down because the panicky part of me sort of feels small and not capable. But the part of me that wants to control, I don't, it's harder for me to access it.

It's kind of like a bit in my, not as much in my conscious awareness. And I can feel that it's sort of like hiding behind the part that wants to run or something. I don't know if that answers your question.

Yeah, yeah, it does.

It does?

Well, it's kind of leading into the other thing that I was going to talk about. So if you want to...

Oh, there's another thing I would love to hear.

Yeah, I wrote down a few things, but like a good time to cover this one. So, you know, on this, we have this graph that we work with, and there's an X and Y axis. And Terry Real also uses this.

So on the Y axis, you have grandiosity and shame. And how a lot of times, I think, we're more likely to see where we're feeling small or disempowered. And that's where we're like, we've been hurt in some way.

And we want to feel like empowered again. We want to feel like we're being seen, that we're equal. And that's a very valid part of us that needs, you know, to feel uplifted or, you know, maybe being in relationship with someone that really helps us feel more seen.

But there's this other kind of sneaky part of us a lot of times that might also feel grandiose or entitled. And this is the part that judges others or judges ourselves, you know, the external world. So like, yeah, all these people, if they would just stop doing this thing, then I could feel okay, or they're the problem.

And so I think it's important to pay attention to that we often have both of these parts kind of moving up and down simultaneously. And so, you know, to work with the part that is more grandiose, I find for me is like, you know, who am I to say that every the world that should just be different, everyone should just act according to how I think they should act, and then we could all be peaceful, right? Like, who am I to say, you know, everyone is on their own journey.

You know, there are things that are happening that are totally outside my control. How am I supposed, you know, how could I ever know that this is actually not pushing us towards more consciousness or more awakening? You know, someone's pain might be the very thing, or their struggle might be the very thing that helps them.

So just because, like, I don't like it, you know, I'm just one person and I'm a part of a bigger organism, you know? And so why I'm saying that is like, I'm trying more, if we're talking about what we're learning, I'm trying to pay attention to that side more, that is like more inflated, and to bring that down while simultaneously also empowering this sometimes younger part of me, sometimes this empowered part of me that needs to be uplifted. And we can really do those simultaneously too.

We don't have to just tend to one and forget about the other. What's going on?

Oh, yeah, I felt a little bit of emotion as you were talking, as you were like bringing that grandiose part down. I just felt I feel emotional. Yeah.

Yeah, it feels like nice and grounding. I'm good. Yeah.


And I think about some of these parts, like I watch other countries at war or I specifically with men, I watch a lot of men act from this inflated place, and they're just unable to see where they're causing inequity or inequality in their relationships to the world or others and the systems that we operate in. And it really pisses me off sometimes. And I know that probably the best way to work with that is to A, see it myself and learn how to work with it, and then I can teach others and point this out to others, and then hopefully they can see it.

So I think both are really important parts of just us creating more peace and equanimity in the world, you know, have to have to be able to see both. So that's how I was understanding. That's what came up for me with parts work.

I really like that. It feels helpful to hear you talk about it, because one of the things that's helped recently as I've been preparing for our flight and working on my fair flying is I saw someone say like, Who am I to tell what the air to whom I to tell the air what it should do? And it just like kind of grounded me and I kind of laughed and smiled and like it felt relieving.

Like, Oh, yeah, like, I don't have to control the air. I don't have to control the plane. I don't like when I get on a plane, I get to just be there.

And that's all I have to do. I wonder if there is a grandiose part of me that probably in some trauma moments or moments outside of my own intimacy capacity, believed I had to control more than I could in order to get what I want and to be able to kind of come down. And when you talked about this idea of maybe, maybe the world is okay as it is.

Like, there is something about that that just feels so grounding to me. And it's not that I never want to fix things or change things because I do and I get into those moments. And sometimes when I come back to that truth, something about it feels really grounding.

Nice chat. Thanks for sharing.

You too. That feels complete for me. Anything else for you today?

I think that's good.

Hey, thanks, everyone.

Okay, we'll have any of our links and stuff we're up to down in the comments if you want to check that out.

You guys want to talk about anything that we're up to?

Oh, yeah. Well, we're doing a coach training in June. I don't know when you're watching this, 2024.

And we do in-person intensives with couples. I have a men's retreat happening in September. You have a women's retreat happening in also September.

Yep, 2024. And yeah, we also meet with individuals, so we've got a lot going on.

All right, we will talk to you soon. Bye bye. Bye.

If you are interested in Advanced Relationship Life Coaching for yourself or in a relationship, or you are interested in a women's wellness retreat, men's retreat, couples retreat, or our coach training, check all of the tabs at the top of this website for details!


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