Relationships are based on communication. However, that means a lot more than just talking. Recognize what’s really going on between you and be clear, truthful and empathic when you connect. That’s the way to real happiness.
WHAT IS CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION?
Close, committed relationships are the most wonderful, nourishing experience we can hope for. When you meet and fall in love, everything seems easy. That wild, exciting rush, that utter desire and devotion carry all before them, and often nothing else matters for a while. As time goes by, work, money and family can take over. They drain the energy that you used to expend on each other and give causes for disagreements and misunderstandings.
In order to overcome these difficulties you need to learn to communicate effectively. This is particularly important when you’re in an emotionally charged situation. This means more than being calm and reasonable, although these things are important. It means being as clear as you can be about your feelings, motives and what can realistically be achieved. Follow our four pointers for conscious communication and create deep connection between you and your partner.
ASK YOURSELF WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
If your partner is late, forgets something, says the wrong thing or does anything that upsets you, it’s very easy to add to the ‘story’. For instance, say you’re expecting to have dinner and your partner hasn’t turned up. After waiting for them for half an hour quite possibly you’re saying to yourself a whole load of negative things that aren’t necessarily true.
For instance you may be thinking ‘They never consider me’, ‘They’re always late’, “Probably they’re gossiping again’, or – worst of all – something like ‘I bet they’re having an affair’. All of these thoughts are making assumptions and putting you into ‘blaming’ mode. This may be unfair. It’s entirely possible that you’ve made up a ‘story’ about your partner, such as ‘They never think of me’ which has never been true. This could arise from the fact that you’ve experienced lack of care in other situations and so you’re projecting this onto your partner – but your partner may be a much more casual person than you, and simply not recognize that their behavior comes across as uncaring.
For true conscious communication you need to stay with what is, nothing more. To keep focused you may like to write this down. For instance, you might note ‘Promised to be here at 7.30. It’s 8pm and he/she hasn’t shown up’. Don’t make up any more ‘story’ and when you discuss the situation, stay with what actually happened. Reflect the facts of the behavior back to your partner calmly and without accusations. Ask for an explanation, maybe saying you really don’t understand.
ASK YOURSELF WHAT EMOTIONS YOU’RE FEELING
Be aware of your emotions and take responsibility for them. Your partner has not precisely caused these feelings, even though their behavior has brought them to the surface. Probably the last thing they want is for you to feel bad.
You may be angry, afraid, sad, in pain, guilty, jealous, embarrassed, resentful, confused, anxious or some other emotion. Probably you will feel a mixture. Try to avoid words that imply you are a victim. These words could include ‘neglected’ ‘unwanted’ ‘put down’ and many other reactions that imply you are needy and vulnerable. For example, if your partner forgets your birthday you might say you feel hurt and angry rather than neglected and unimportant. Of course we all need certain things from a partner, but stay in your power as much as you can.
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU NEED THAT YOU’RE NOT GETTING
Take some deep breaths, relax and ask yourself what you actually need. This will enable you to be emotionally creative in what you say. It will also empower you to be clear with your partner about what you would like them to do, or not to do.
For instance you may want them just to listen. Perhaps you want them to be prompt, to give you some down time or to devote more attention to intimacy. Now your partner knows exactly what they can do to help the situation. This can empower both of you and enable positive dialogue, leading to Step 4…..
ASK FOR EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT
It’s very important to make requests as opposed to demands. Describe exactly the change in behavior you would like. Listen also to what your partner says. Are they able to deliver or is this going to cause them difficulty? Do they have reasons for the way they’ve behaved that you haven’t understood? Always be respectful and try not to attack, criticize or put them down.
Through all these stages it may be good to make notes. This isn’t being calculating – it’s being focused. After all, this is the most important area of your life and deserves concentration.
Please remember, conscious communication may not mean you resolve everything to your satisfaction. You won’t always get your own way, but you will feel good about yourself and your partner and your relationship will be dynamic and productive.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Now you know what conscious communication is, how to assess the situation, realise what emotions you’re feeling, what you need and what you are asking for. Apply all of this and your relationship will flourish.
PUBLISHED: 11 September 2018