There are few concepts that have impacted me as greatly as the "ScreamFree" approach to human interaction. (“Screaming” refers to any unproductive way that a person may emotionally react to a situation, typically out of fear and self-preservation.) I first read this book years ago while I was gasping for breath in an unhealthy marriage. It did not, ultimately, "save" that marriage - we ended up getting a divorce. But I'm not entirely convinced that remaining in a miserable and unhealthy union was the goal of the lesson (and accompanying therapy) anyway. What it did actually end up doing was save ME.
It helped me discover who I was and who I wanted to become. It helped me determine what is important to me and how to own those things. Most importantly, it helped me learn to take full responsibility for myself and zero responsibility for another - not his thoughts, not his feelings, not his actions. I couldn't control him, and he couldn’t control me. (This universal approach applies to every human in my life. And yours.) I can't make excuses like, "He made me so mad that I...", because I realized that I'm the only one in control of me, and I fully own that responsibility. I also stopped feeling pressure to "keep him happy," because I realized that his attitude was not dependent upon me. As I boldly took back ownership of my adulthood, I simultaneously resigned the responsibility of maintaining his control and maturity on his behalf.
To you, these concepts may either seem like common sense or completely foreign. But I tell ya, when I was first introduced to the Scream Free approach in 2010, it was nothing short of revolutionary. I had a complete paradigm shift regarding relationship dynamics with every person I interacted with. It was so freeing! The book quite literally changed my life... (Obviously, I highly recommend it. There’s much more to it than I can expound upon here.)
In the years since then, the principles have sunk deeper into my psyche, shaping my entire worldview. When I eventually felt ready to enter into a new partnership, I insisted that the foundation of the relationship must be Scream Free. Thankfully, my new boyfriend was on board from the get go. He, too, was seeking a mature, healthy relationship and was eager to achieve that however possible. He read this book and internalized the concepts from the very beginning, and the terms and phrases have become so basic to our communication style that it’s sometimes hard to remember they originated from these pages.
All of this background led to my extreme excitement to meet the author, Hal Runkel, at a free speaking engagement yesterday. I had the chance to personally share with him how meaningful the material is to me and of how profoundly it has impacted my life. And we, as a couple, were able to express to him how thankful we are for the opportunity to embark on a new, healthy relationship with one another, atop these principles. He, in turn, autographed our copy of the book, and encouraged us to forever keep our “cool,” even when life gets complicated and we feel the urge to "scream.”
I’m so proud of who I’ve independently grown into, and I’m thrilled to be coupling that independent strength with a person who CHOOSES (but doesn’t NEED) to stand by my side on top of a very firm Scream Free foundation.