Save that mask for Halloween and stop wearing it in your relationships.
Wow, just a few short days until Halloween. I can remember how excited my boys would get as they put on their costumes for trick or treating. Through the years, I've enjoyed seeing the neighborhood kids come to the door and it's amazing how different they looked in their costumes. Some were monsters, some were princesses, and some were movie stars, but I didn't recognize them at all with their masks on.
When I think about it, don't we wear some of those same masks in our relationships? It's easier to hide behind masks of anger than to risk being vulnerable. How often do you try to be that prince or princess while burying your own needs deep inside? Things can seem picture perfect on the outside, while quiet desperation brims just under the surface.
One of the first steps on the journey to a more authentic relationship is to create a climate of safety and security. The Imago Dialogue that I teach in my workshop is designed to do just that. It all starts with the way you communicate with each other.
This dialogue is a step-by-step process of building trust and intimacy as you begin to actively listen to each other with validation and empathy. Here are a few key components:
- Adopt a curious, focused attention on your partner during the dialogue. Remember, you don't have to agree. Your goal is to understand a perspective that will most likely be very different than your own.
- Take turns letting each other speak without interruption. When you allow each other to speak freely without judgment, a safe and healthy connection begins to emerge.
- Use phrases like, "I can see how you might see it that way," or "I imagine that might have made you feel" to cultivate a sense of validation and empathy.
Being authentic and real in our relationships can be a frightening proposition, but it is one of the key ingredients to a healthy and satisfying relationship. So, as you let your true selves begin to shine, you can put aside those silly masks—except of course on Halloween.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween everyone!