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Mia Moore: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

By Brad Kearns

I welcome Mia Moore to the studio for her first show, appropriate being that the Get Over Yourself Northern California studios are located in her house! (SoCal studios are at my mom and dad’s in case you are curious). Mia is seen by many, or at least and perhaps most importantly by Brad, as an ideal relationship partner. Hence we aspire to have her as a recurring guest to talk about healthy relationship dynamics and strategies. In the future, we will zero in on specific topics like show #2’s “Cheerleader Show”, or discuss popular relationship theories (The Four Agreements, Mars and Venus, John Gottman’s work, Kris Gage’s articles on Medium.com). This conversation moved quickly through many topics that will make great centerpiece discussions for future shows. The central theme of the Mia Moore shows was presented, which is that we might want to second-guess our baseline beliefs about relationships. We see so much struggle, stress and dysfunction in romantic partnerships that we become socialized to believe that relationships are mainly about hard work, compromise of beliefs, values, and preferences, frustration, heartache, and extra stress, with glimpses of bliss thrown in now and then. These realities pair with the routine venting and commiserating sessions with the boys at bowling league or the girls at book club.  Mia talks about how life experience, including both positive and negative aspects of past relationships, can frame one’s perspective and stimulate personal growth for more happiness, peace, and fulfillment in future relationships. Mia suggests that those who complain about relationship imperfections are advised to show up at a singles meetup or engage with an Internet dating service to gain a fresh perspective and perhaps experience more gratitude for what they got at home. Mia suggests that the worst mistake parents make is prioritizing kids before the nurturing of a loving partnership. In the age of helicopter parenting in general, kids come to believe they are at the center of the universe, and likely will bring these unhealthy perspectives into future love relationships of their own. Most importantly, Mia has adopted a lifestyle motto of, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” which helps her navigate potentially contentious situations with work, family, friends, and our partnership with great patience and peace. Recall the popular book title and subtitle, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” That said, Mia observes that small stuff is relative. If chronic lateness is seen as trivial by one but highly offensive by another, these people might not be poised for a healthy relationship because of such a fundamental difference in values and beliefs. The show is not merely warm fuzzy fun with a kudo kounter. We stay unplugged and authentic without script, notes or agenda. At one point, Mia calls me out for getting “butt hurt” when random interruptions occur (e.g., a GPS navigation voice) while I am busy blabbing away on the important topic of the day. Mia also calls B.S. on my emphasizing the concept of “drawing boundaries” as a relationship strategy. This gets me (and maybe you) to rethink a basic premise: should we really have to draw our boundaries again and again in relationship? Could we instead express our needs and preferences and expect that partners respect our boundaries pretty well? So what about stuff like explosive arguments and emotionally-charged communication? Kris Gage on the Medium says “emotional control/emotional self-stability” is the mandatory top priority for a healthy relationship. Gage argues persuasively that everything else flows from this starting point; otherwise the relationship is doomed. Mia draws a critical distinction between “venting” (about a tough day at work or challenges with family members or friends), and “kicking the dog” with emotionally abusive communication. It seems people often get a free pass here; that they are allowed to figuratively kick the dog, say sorry, and carry on with dysfunctional communication dynamics due to their stressful lifestyle circumstances wearing down their emotional stability. How about we call BS on that?! Mia and I strive to adhere to a relationship ideal that feedback of any form can always be dispensed with loving kindness. Mia suggests going to therapy to discern the difference between healthy venting and dysfunctional venting. She reflects on some of her past relationship dynamics that “weren’t pretty,” and how she one day resolved to never again accept or engage in yelling as a relationship dynamic. Mia explains that when someone is venting, it’s a great idea to just listen and validate instead of the common knee-jerk reaction to dispense advice (or worse, dispense critical feedback and veiled judgment). Deepak Chopra reminds us that all of us want “attention and acceptance as we are.” John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, reminds us that men are naturally wired to solve problems, while women are wired for connection. So if a woman is venting to a man, the man might resolve to listen and validate instead of solve the problem for her. I believe the Mars and Venus corollary to that is men need “cave time” instead of nagging when they are emotionally disturbed, and that they will eventually return to with a fresh perspective accordingly. We will have to ask John Gray when Mia and I get him on for a show. Teeing up an important theme for future shows, is a natural match in attitude/behavior/life disposition a better idea than the “opposites attract” concept where people think disparate dispositions and values have a complementary effect? Mia suggests we should sort through this stuff in our youth and not get married until age 30! Alas, when we get older, we often get set in our ways and experience more mismatches and less inclination to compromise relationship goals and ideals. This stuff must be considered in negotiating agreeable circumstances, or perhaps walking away from assorted relationship “dealbreakers” (another future show theme.) I ask Mia how she maintains her perpetual smile and sunny disposition. She claims she was born that way, with the glass half full. I ask if her emotional control and discerning communication skills were honed in her decades of existence in a large bureaucratic work environment. Not really, says Mia, reminding us that there are plenty of pop-offs in the workplace! Mia also explains that being in a healthy partnership helps her maintain her sensitive and effective communication skills. The show gets a little spicy when Mia suggests that taking matters into the bedroom can help assuage routine day-to-day relationship challenges and build a stronger baseline. 

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