• Search

    Search The Teal Swan Article Library

  • Swap Places (A Relationship Exercise)


    When love becomes a choice, is when we decide to commit to the other person as we would to ourself. We commit to capitalizing their best interests. This commitment takes on many forms such as affection, assistance, intimacy, communication etc. When love becomes a choice, we are presented with the opportunity to chose to create harmony instead of succumb to the power struggle.
    Power struggle is an inevitable part of all relationships. It arises as a result of the ego vying for survival by struggling to differentiate itself. Love dissolves the ego because it causes us to become one. It causes us to experience our similarities instead of differences. Our separate sense of self goes away. Love is essentially an ego death, which is why the ego is not a fan of love. When we commit to love, which is a decision, we commit to acting in loving ways that put the welfare of our partner in the forefront. This is not easy. We tend to reach a point in relationships where we sit back and wait for the partner to meet our needs and feel resentful when they don’t. We shut down our hearts to them. We think that to feel loved, we need to receive love. When in truth, it is in the taking actions to love that we develop loving feelings from within. When we give, our hearts must be open. When our heart is open, compassion and love comes flooding in. And one of the most loving things we can practice giving to our partner is understanding.
    The following is an exercise I want you to try. You can do this with anyone, regardless of whether they are your partner or friend or child or mother. When you get into an argument, especially if it is a chronic one, I want you to switch roles. So you are each actually arguing from the other person’s perspective in this scenario. Try to act exactly like they act. Say exactly what they say. I want you to take on their persona and point of view completely. And your goal during this exercise is three fold…
    1. To understand their point of view fully as if you were literally in their shoes, with their history and their feelings and their beliefs. This is not about transposing your viewpoint into their viewpoint. This is not about “If I were you” it is about “I am you instead”. 2. For them to understand your point of view fully as if they were literally in your shoes, with your history and your feelings and your beliefs. 3. To mirror to the other person what it looks like and feels like to be on the opposite side of them in this argument. 4. To have them mirror to you what it looks and feels like to be on the opposite side of you in this argument.
    So, for example, if a wife and husband have a chronic argument about how much the husband works, she will put herself in his perspective and make the case on his behalf and he will put himself in her perspective and make the case on her behalf.
    To do this exercise, you must be willing to lay down the defenses. This can be hard because when we are in a power struggle, we care much more about being right and about being justified and about being the good guy than we care about love and therefore understanding. But if we can do it, we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves, grow in ourselves and as a couple. And to reach a meeting of minds. Once we have performed the exercise or at any time during the exercise, we can reflect upon any insights we are gaining as a result of doing the exercise. Communication is the cornerstone of a relationship and this exercise will go far towards assisting your communication with one another and also towards helping you to see opportunity for compromise and changes that need to be made to enable the relationship to flourish. So give it a try!