Steps for how to decode your frustrations into gifts♥

LOVE NOTE – Saturday January 7, 2012

A Big HELLO wonderful readers♡

There will be people that frustrate us in many different areas of our lives and having ♡TOOLS that equip us to respond consciously, kindly and compassionately is A NECESSITY. I believe everyone benefits from learning and knowing this work and having these ♡TOOLS.

In this post I share about the theory of Imago Relationship Therapy and how to talk about and share your FRUSTRATIONS, and how to Re-structure Frustrations into Behaviour Change Requests – BCRs for short. Using the Imago theory and ♡TOOLS and Skills has been very profound and life-changing for me.

I emphasize that we teach this work as a PROCESS/SKILL at the end of the whole weekend Imago Couples and Individuals Workshops and there is intensive pre-teaching through the earlier parts of the weekend so that the different steps make sense. This post is teaching you the concept in general.

One quote that captures what I believe is central to the Imago Relationship Therapy model and work of Dr Harville Hendrix is:


“Conflict is growth trying to happen”

It is really wonderful to be able to re-frame CONFLICT as a GIFT and as an opportunity to grow and heal and get our NEEDS met if we have the consciousnesses and the ♡TOOLS instead of something that we have to fear and run from.

Imago teaches that under all reoccurring frustrations there is:

  • an UNMET NEED for the person with the frustration and
  • a GROWTH EDGE for the person they have the frustration with.

The theory is that all frustrations contain a hidden desire, a need, a yearning. We teach people how to unpack the frustration and translate the desire into a Non-Demand REQUEST for a CHANGE in BEHAVIOUR.

Usually when there is a frustration people share it by criticising /complaining/whinging /whining /blaming /nagging/attacking and the like
– raised voices and eyebrows
– finger pointing
– aggressive body postures
– and often with sarcasm, contempt and  superiority.

Many of THE SCABS get used! A suggestion for the Graduates of the Workshops reading do a quick review and test yourself on what they are before looking.

By THE SCABS we mean any invalidating of the other:
Sarcasm, Scorn
C-riticism, C-ontempt, C-ondescension, C-omplaining, C-omparing  
ttacking, A-ccusing, A-ssuming, A-rrogance
B-laming, B-elittling, B-ullying,  B-arbs
S-haming, S-uperiority, Sneering


It is even more detrimental as people usually don’t just complain about and criticise the behaviour, they mostly word it so that it comes out that there is something ‘wrong’ with the character of ‘the other’ which they attack them for.

For instance: – “You are messy and lazy’.
rather than some version of:

I’m frustrated that you have left things in what I consider to be a mess.

People need to learn to re-word their criticisms and complaints into what they NEED.

...and I need you to put things back in the fridge and cupboard and clear and wipe the bench after you’ve made a sandwich.

We need to
– say specifically what we want
– be brief and to the point,
– not say what they are doing wrong and don’t want
– tell them what doing it right would look like for you
– make a non-demand request of them.

And the most important part of making a non-demand request is –

it means they can say YES or NO!!

And do you know why that is?

In essence if you ask something of another and they don’t have the choice to say either YES or NO then you are in the position of demanding and the consequence is they will usually feel controlled!

Just think about it – if you don’t have a choice as to how you answer/respond to someone’s request then it will feel like you are being told what to do!!

be curious

Throughout this whole process it is important to stay CURIOUS!  

We teach –  all conflict is held in place by UNMET NEEDS from childhood.

And that we need to go ‘under’ whatever is frustrating us on the surface to find out what is fueling our frustration/irritation.

There are two people in any frustration/argument/conflict –

a) the person with the frustration and
b) the person who frustrated/is frustrating you


You convert your frustrations into BEHAVIOUR CHANGE REQUESTS (BCRs) – a Non Demand REQUEST for a CHANGE in BEHAVIOUR.

And by the way – NO you don’t have to do this around every frustration you have. We suggest you consider doing this process where the frustration lasts more than about 10 minutes and/or it is reoccurring between you and ‘the other’. Then it is most likely linked to history – and is touching an unmet need usually right back into childhood.

1. We apply the 90/10 rule:
10% is about present and what ‘the other’ did. They are actually doing something and are not just an innocent bystander, and
90% is about history.

It is useful to ask yourself the question –

What felt like that as I was growing up?

It is more about the feeling rather than just the actual incident.

For instance, in the above example of you being frustrated by someone leaving “mess” on the bench: pay attention to the feeling you have when this happens and then ask yourself – What felt like that as I was growing up? 


There is GOLD Hidden for YOU and it can feel a bit like panning for gold’ as often there is much sorting and sifting to go through to find ‘the treasure’ that is in it for both of you.

 Whatever it is that ‘the Other’ most wants and needs from you, as expressed in their frustration, will be the hardest for you to do and give.

 He/she will be asking you to move into the LOST PARTS of you. In other words, parts of you (behaviours, actions, characteristics, feelings) that you did not develop when you were growing up.

You will most likely feel inner resistance/blocking/judgement to meet the need of  ‘the Other’ because such behaviours are not natural, normal and comfortable for you.

If they were you would already be doing them and you wouldn’t be in this frustration cycle with the other person!!!

 You need to give/do the behaviours requested by ‘the other’ as A GIFT. In other words, there is no ‘price tag’/ conditions. They DO NOT have to give back or do anything for you in return.

This is what unconditional ♡LOVE is. This is one of the hardest things for people to do as most people grow up learning and experiencing conditional ♡LOVE. This also means that they are ‘wired’ to expect that this is what ♡LOVE is!

So moving into experiencing/doing/giving unconditional ♡LOVE is a profound step/gift.

Hendrix introduced the term:
as people must go beyond what is comfortable or natural and enlarge their repertoire of behaviours.

Stretching can sometimes feel like being asked to act like someone else. This is why it feels so hard!

Doing behaviours that are not natural and normal for you S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-S you towards wholeness.

And when you do an action/behaviour ‘the other’ requests they experience HEALING (that is, getting their need met) and you experience GROWTH (that is, acting in ways that aren’t natural for you).

In the Imago model Harville distinguishes between “HEALING” and “GROWTH”.

For HEALING to happen we need ‘the other’ to meet our need.
By GROWTH we are expanding and growing into parts of us that we didn’t develop as we were growing up.

Here’s an Example: I’ll use my request for people to comment on the blog. My unmet need is for people to comment and to show up for me in that way – I’ll repeat MY REQUEST –

Would you [meaning any of you out there in blog-community land reading this] be willing to commit to making a comment on the blog a minimum of once a week for the next month?

MY HISTORY: My upbringing taught me I’m supposed to be strong and self-sufficient and to not need others and to carry on regardless and to not ask for what I want as there is not enough to go around. I lived in a family where there were 5 kids and I was the oldest girl and our father was sick from when I was 2 till he died when I was 11. I learnt these ways of being. I was taught and got approval and acceptance for looking after others and to take care of their needs and to not have any of my own.

NOTE: One way to know whether you are in the arena of growing is whether there is a feeling of s-q-u-i-r-m-i-n-g”. Doing something that makes you feel exposed and uncomfortable, and usually there will be self-judgment and criticism…..And sharing this information about my childhood is making me s-q-u-i-r-m………So this is as well a growth edge for me to advocate for myself and to ask, especially when I have asked about this before.

Being vulnerable and putting your needs out that aren’t being met is one of the hardest things for people to do in the change process so there is always growth for the one asking as well.

In fact, I think sharing about our needs that aren’t normally met in our relationships, and weren’t met as we were growing up, from the adult place of unconditional ♡LOVE  (that is, I’ll still ♡LOVE and accept you even if you don’t meet my needs) is one of the most “grown -up” self-regulated ways to be.

And by the way it doesn’t end there if ‘the Other’ says No to meeting our need.

There are more steps as it is crucial that you stay advocating for yourself to get your needs met.

So I am S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G in asking.
And asking for what you want which you also didn’t get in the past, mostly will feel like a q u a n t u m leap.

This is certainly a G-R-O-W-T-H   E-D-G-E.

YOUR GROWTH EDGE IN COMMENTING/ACTING: With a note that Growth Edges are as unique as the people who have them.

For you to respond to my request your Growth Edge might be:
– voicing your opinions and being heard and seen and experiencing that your opinion matters.
– it could be committing to an action and following through.
– and many more.

NOTE: what I have described in this post is just a SUMMARY OVERVIEW of this process. The full process has many more specific steps to it. For most people this stuff is hard to get and to be able to do the full process with full undefended consciousness can take a long time – as long as a year or more even with regular practice, as remember very importantly you are re-wiring some very old survival patterns and character styles in doing this!!

For the full teaching and intensive processing work I recommend everyone attend an Imago Getting The Love You Want Couples Workshop or the Keeping The Love You Find Workshop for Individuals that are presented in many countries around the world and follow up with coaching with a certified Imago Therapist. For more information you can also check out both of the books by –

Dr Harville Hendrix

Dr Harville Hendrix. 

I thank and honour Harville for his brilliance for this work in helping us to really understand relationships and the frustrations that threaten the ♡LOVE-ing and respecting space between people.

♡MIRRORING TOPIC: Share with someone what this post brings up for you, triggers in you, how it impacts you and have them ♡MIRROR you for a minimum of 5 minutes. Then swap and you ♡MIRROR their sharing.

Does this all make sense to you? Hope it does and it is useful to you. I would appreciate your input around its usefulness to you as well as any ideas of how to make it clearer.

I’m imagining all sorts of questions may come up for people – so please ask whatever comes up as I’m sure many others will have the same questions.

May you be EXPERIMENTING and  S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G and S-Q-U-I-R-M-I-N-G and taking new steps to live the life of your dreams and getting your precious needs met. Respectfully and encouragingly, LOVE allways Susie♡

About susiesheartpathblog

My aim with Susies♥HeartpathBlog is to connect and relate to you from my heart, mind and soul while sharing information and resources about conscious relationships, communication and ♡LOVE and FULL exuberant ALIVENESS…. My intention is to provide a space where you can engage with me and with the community of those who are ‘walking’ the ♥HEART PATH of conscious relationships….. people who daily make choices and actions about becoming and being more ♡LOVE-ing…….people who care that their partners and families and friends and the wider community feel ♡LOVE-d and lovable… people who are curious about and respect and validate the reality of ‘the other’ and who choose to create and live in a Zero Negativity Zone [ZNZ zone].... I am committed to teaching and sharing practical user-friendly communication ★TOOLS and Skills and processes that lead to growth and deep healing, connection, ♡LOVE and intimacy. I am a keen net-worker and committed to connecting people to the abundance of resources that are available. I believe much of what we need is out there, yet people don’t often know the resources are there or if they do where to find them. Putting people in touch with opportunities and possibilities is a high priority for me….
This entry was posted in ♥LOVE NOTE, ♥MIRRORING Practice, TOP Posts on Relationships & LOVE♥ and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Steps for how to decode your frustrations into gifts♥

  1. estrazar says:

    Susie – you offer this tool with great clarity and simplicity. Your support to be patient with the process is a vital directive. Turning frustrations (which rapidly move into judgments and power struggles) into tender, underbelly requests – is a courageous path for sure. Your personal sharing grounds it in a common humanity. Yes, we are all tender and fear stretching into behaviors that trigger our core wounds/shame – unsure if the other will receive us with care – yet it is in this stretching that true intimacy (with self and other) is forged.
    I use this tool myself (personally and in my practice) and have found it to be amazingly healing. I think it is highly valuable that you’ve shared this as a stand alone tool – for those who might not be taking an Imago workshop.
    As always – I LOVE the images you’ve shared. 😉

    And I also wanted to offer you technical feedback – on why some folks might not be responding to your posts. In order to ‘like’ your post, one must be signed up for a wordpress blog. In order to reply, one must go through a signing on process, which, in the long run is not lengthy, but does require pausing and taking a bit of extra time.

    So – this is also a shout out to those who run into snags with liking and responding – to go that extra step – because it will fuel more reciprocity and keep Susie wholeheartedly offering us her gems of insight, wisdom, and support along the rugged and righteous path of softening our hearts to ourselves and each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello dear ♡Elizabeth – loyal and soulful blog mate,
    Thank you for receiving me with care…..
    Love your “Turning frustrations into tender, underbelly requests – is a courageous path for sure”.
    As a fellow therapist as well as being ‘a fellow woman’ (weird combination there!) thank you for your validating and adding to this post. Your comments are very valued.
    You mention using “this tool myself (personally and in my practice) and have found it to be amazingly healing”….
    One of the things that I value about the Imago work is that in order to train to be an a Imago therapist we all have to attend the Couples Workshop as an entry requirement to do the training…… It’s like if you only do this work from your head it only works so far – you have to do it from your heart and soul – have it ‘in your bones’ – for it to truly work which means living it in your life and showing our soft underbelly and being willing and courageous to risk the path of true intimacy…..
    BIG THANKS for your technical feedback – which I am repeating in the next post and for your shout out to the ‘crowds’ 🙂
    LOVE ♡Susie.


  3. sarcha says:

    Hello Susie
    Thank you so much for this article. Serendipidous as your posts arrive just when i need them. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Candy says:

    Dear Susie,
    Rory and I just read this together, and I cried some more when I read about how your father was ill and then he died. Thank you for that session we just had, its opened me to myself again. And Rory quietly sat and listened as I explained to him what happened for me. He’s (albeit, at this stage, reluctantly) agreed to do some sessions with you. He’s just scared of himself I think. I know he’ll be amazed at the treasure he’ll find.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ♡Candy dear One,
      Thank you for your sensitivity and caring and tears…..And for allowing yourself to enter that precious place of being opened to yourself again……And wonderful to hear your ♡Rory listened and has chosen to explore deeper with you…… And what treasures and gifts you both will find……with ♡LOVE and gratefullness, Susie.


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