FSB Author Article
How Stillpower Helped Save a Marriage
By Garret Kramer,
Author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life
Lisa and Tim grew up together, became high-school sweethearts, went their separate ways in college, reunited afterwards, and got married two years later. They have three children, exciting careers, and a lovely home in the suburbs. Sadly, though, they also possess a concrete list of problems which, to them, are causing an increasing level of marital strife.
Because I know Tim and he is familiar with my work, I suggested that he and Lisa come see me. Although they had previously visited a marriage counselor to no avail, I mentioned that perhaps a perspective existed that they had not yet explored. He agreed, and eight days later they arrived, poised to get to the bottom of their list of problems.
"But not so fast," I told them. I had two requirements during our time together:
- We don't try to fix your problems.
- I will meet with the two of you, but separately.
Although these requirements surprised both Lisa and Tim, they were determined to save their marriage, and nothing else was working, so we began.
Lisa was up first. After we settled in, I informed her that, for all people, problems are a byproduct of low states of mind. From a high state of mind, the exact same problematic circumstance is no longer problematic. For example, the problem of Tim playing golf on Sunday mornings was not the cause of Lisa's discontent; it was a symptom of her discontent. Said another way, what she experienced -- Tim leaving early on Sunday mornings -- did not create Lisa's low state of mind. Her low state of mind created how she experienced (or viewed) his leaving early on Sunday mornings.
In fact, it took her a minute, but Lisa soon admitted. "Actually, sometimes I understand Tim's love of golf and his desire to be with his friends, and I encourage him to go. I don't mind it at all."
Now we were getting somewhere, and I could see (as a new line of thinking took hold) the tension lifting from Lisa's shoulders. She then asked, "So, if my perceptions of Tim's actions are more understanding from a high state of mind, what can I do to get to a higher state of mind more often?"
I replied, "Great, keep looking toward state of mind and away from behavior. From a higher mind-set, you won't feel irritated by Tim's behavior or your differences. Therefore, any time you feel angry or offended, understand that your thoughts and state of mind -- and not Tim -- are creating this perception and simply apply what I call stillpower."
"Sounds interesting," she said. "What is stillpower?"
"Stillpower is the opposite of willpower. You've been using willpower. You've been attempting to will yourself through marital problems that won't even exist when your state of mind is elevated. With stillpower you leave your problems alone when you feel low, and, naturally, fresh thought arrives and answers become obvious to you both."
As I said good-bye to Lisa, she hugged me and then exclaimed, "I can't wait for Tim to learn this, too!"
Thankfully, my time with Tim was virtually identical. And as he left my office and headed toward the room where Lisa was waiting, I notice that he, too, seemed extremely at ease. The next thing I knew, Lisa and Tim walked out of my office -- arm in arm.
Remember, at times, we all find ourselves in low states of mind. Low states of mind are normal, temporary, and occur independent of our circumstances. And since we don't see life clearly from this wayward psychological outlook, problem solving from it only makes matters worse.
Rather, no matter the situation, when you feel low or out of sorts, simply apply stillpower. You probably won't feel better in an instant, but if you look away from your illusionary troubles, you won't perpetuate your low quality of thinking and your level of clarity will start to rise by itself.
As for Lisa and Tim, I'm proud to say that things continue to look up. Of course, they don't always agree, but because they now understand that low mind-sets create errant perceptions, they are committed to discussing their differences from high states of mind -- and finding something else to do (together) whenever they are low.
© 2012 Garret Kramer, author of Stillpower:
Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life
Garret Kramer, author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life, is the founder and managing partner of Inner Sports, LLC. His revolutionary approach to performance has transformed the careers of professionals athletes and coaches, Olympians, and collegiate players across a multitude of sports. Kramer's work has been featured on WFAN, ESPN, Fox, and CTV, as well as in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other national publications.