Do you try to talk with someone when you already know he or she is closed? Consider NOT doing this!
How often have you asked a question of or made a statement to a partner, co-worker, friend or relative at a time when you already knew they are angry or withdrawn? Then, when they are predictably angry, closed or defensive, you feel upset by their response. Why did you put yourself in the line of fire? What are you hoping to gain by asking a question or making a statement when you already know they are closed?
Go inside for a moment and ask yourself this question: "Why do I try to communicate with someone whom I already know is angry, defensive or withdrawn? What do I hope will happen?"
If you are honest with yourself, you will see that your hope is that by asking the question or making the statement, the other person will respond with openness. Now, be truthful with yourself - how often has this happened? What usually happens instead?
What usually happens is that they continue to be angry, withdrawn or defensive and then you feel really badly because your manipulation didn't work.
Consider not putting yourself in the line of fire when you already know that the other person isn't open. Consider accepting your helplessness over the other person's intent (I know, it’s SUCH a hard feeling to accept) and disengaging to take care of your own feelings of loneliness or heartache.
I used to do this all the time - put myself right in the line of fire and would then feel hurt, frustrated and angry that the other person wouldn't open. After all, I was coming to them open, asking a real question with an intent to learn or making a caring statement. Right? Wrong!
I was coming from my ego wounded self, hoping to engage them and get them to open so that I wouldn't have to feel my loneliness, heartache and helplessness. Putting myself in the line of fire to receive another unloving reaction was certainly not loving to me. At that time in my life it was more important to me to try to get another person to engage with me as a way to protect against my core painful feelings, than it was to take loving care of my feelings and learn what the feelings were telling me about the other person's intent.
Now, when someone is closed, I accept that I have no control over their intent to open or stay closed. I no longer try to engage with someone when I'm feeling lonely with them. I acknowledge the loneliness, the heartache and the helplessness over them and go inside, embracing these feelings with kindness and compassion toward myself, and then take whatever other loving action I need to take - to take responsibility for myself, such as take a walk, read a book, do some work or answer some emails - whatever feels good in the moment.
I let them be. I have faith that they will open when they are ready to open. I send them prayers, asking God to help them open their heart, as I know they are suffering when their heart is closed. I have no investment if they open or when they open, as their being closed is really not my business. As long as I am taking loving care of myself, I can let them go through whatever process they need to go through to get back to openness.
When I finally reached that point in my marriage - letting him be rather than trying to get him open - it quickly became apparent that he had no intention of opening. His infrequent openness was only in response to me taking responsibility for his feelings. When I stopped doing that, his openness stopped. That's when I needed to decide whether I could live with someone who stayed closed, or whether I needed to leave. For me, the choice was obvious.
I hope you have the courage to stop putting yourself in the line of fire to avoid your core painful feelings - the courage to see what the reality is in each of your relationships.
To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with your partner and others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, “The Intimate Relationship Toolbox” – the first two weeks are free!
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This article was originally published at Inner Bonding . Reprinted with permission from the author.