How can we respond in a way that leaves everyone emotionally "intact"? To start with, remember that if you are feeling a certain way, then the other party may be sharing a similar sensitivity. Give them the "benefit of the doubt." This will help to reduce automatic knee-jerk reactions in the heat of the moment. More importantly, begin now to build your own positive self-esteem by focusing on your own unique virtues. When we behave in ways that we respect, then our self-respect grows, and so does our esteem of ourselves. Adopting a philosophy of "live and let live" allows the other person to operate freely, in the same manner you want for yourself. In the end result, we can allow others the same freedom we allow ourselves.
—Avis Attaway, Counselor/Therapist
Stop the criticism cycle
Research in the journal Personal Relationships, 2010, suggests that criticized partners see the other as hard and controlling, and are likely to responded in a similar manner. In other words, criticism creates a vicious, critical cycle.
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So how can we bypass this automatic trigger and act with grace and dignity?
1. Recognize feeling of hurt and express your pain in words. Research indicates that words calm the emotional brain and bring clarity to the interaction, making it more likely to end in an understanding. When a partner criticizes, rather than jumping to criticize in return, express how that perceived attack made you feel.
2. Realize that your partner must be feeling bad to have made that critical remark. Understanding the pain your partner must be feeling to have delivered a painful remark opens the door to sharing, not accusing, demanding or blaming. He Thinks Your Feedback Is Nagging
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3. Invite your partner to open up about his/her sense of being neglected. Getting your partner to open up about his/her vulnerability means you can share your own vulnerable feelings, too.
—Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D., Counselor/Therapist