How to communicate effectively in relationships without being controlled by past emotional hurts
When you have a spat with your guy, do you resort to the silent treatment? Maybe you pout until he caves in to your way of thinking, because that’s what always works with everyone else. Perhaps this tactic: fleeing the scene, refusing to engage at all ... then pretending that nothing happened once tempers cooled down.
Most of us form a pattern of dealing with those we are most vulnerable to as a means of protection from possible emotional hurt. It is so ingrained that one may not even be aware that it is a hinderance to a connected, stable and loving relationship.
Communication problems are the source of the downslides in committed relationships and marriages. If your guy can’t understand why you behave the way you do and why you fly off the handle when he wants to spend time with his friends for example, he will eventually stop caring and stop trying to get it.
As a relationship coach, I have talked to many women who did not understand why they were so anxious and discontent in love, no matter how great the guy treated them. The real answer is not getting your way when things unfold differently than you expect, but asking what it is on the inside that makes you react in a manner that you wish you didn’t.
What has a hold on you?
If you did not grow up with a strong sense of self-worth and belonging in your formative years, you probably developed ways to compensate for those feelings of insecurity. Every challenge in your life, especially in love, will be filtered through the impression you have of yourself. The closest relationships will display the most vulnerability. When disagreements arise, a fear of being unloved and possibly rejected can rise to the surface. You end up fighting an emotional battle from the past ... you’re not really in the present moment.
Are you being controlled by an emotion or feeling, responding to that hurt instead of what’s going on right now?
Consider these steps to break free of this past pattern and communicate more effectively:
Identify what’s controlling you. You want to go out to dinner but instead of asking your guy if he’d like to do that, you instead backdoor the request and ask what he’d like to eat tonight. When he doesn’t come up with the right answer, you immediately change your demeanor and freeze him out for the rest of the evening. He’s wondering what just happened and you refuse to say a word. The source of feeling like you never get anything you want is rooted not in what just happened, but somewhere in your past. To become a better communicator in love, you first need to look at those emotions that steer your reactions.
Own your feelings. It is possible to dramatically change your experience in love, but you first must take responsibility for your part in the breakdown of connection and communication within the relationship. The source of your reactions began early in life, but that does not mean you can use that as an excuse for your behavior as an adult. At some point, you need to stop blaming your parents for the way you were raised. No matter how unfair your circumstances were as a young child, you are not forever destined to have those experiences define your behavior and character. You do have the inner strength to change and not be enslaved by childhood responses.
Forgive. The only way to be set free from the bondage of wrong thinking is to forgive the person you believe is responsible for your fears. When you formed these emotional armors, they helped you survive that environment. As an adult, you can make the life you choose. The key element is forgiveness, not only forgiving that person, but also yourself. It is important to release the guilt that surfaces when you do and say things you’d wish you didn’t to those you love.
In love, you can embrace childlike qualities of openness, honesty and trust to communicate with your guy and stay in the present moment of the relationship. Emotionally, it is vital to grow out of the formative years so you can love without the fears of the past blocking the way.
Nancy Pina is a highly recognized author, relationship coach and speaker. She is dedicated to helping individuals attract emotionally healthy relationships through her practical Christian based advice.
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