Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Relationships: How is yours?

Relationships can be sticky situations, right? What are your abilities for understanding, communicating, listening and being considerate of the other person? Too many times our judgements, attitudes and behaviors get right in the middle of people who profess to care about one another. Sometimes we need to take our own "time out" and realize the importance of asking ourselves the tough and difficult questions about where your relationship stands. Do you perceive the other person in a negative light? Do you compromise your wants, wishes and needs to "keep the peace"? How adept are you in "negotiating" in all areas of your life? Or, do you have "bargaining" strategies to get what you want? Having to tolerate people, situations and life isn't the best decision as it eventually becomes a train wreck of major proportion. Dr. Phil put it very succinctly when he says, "If the cost of being "half" a couple means you have to give up "all" of who you are, then isn't the price you are paying way too much?

So many times our own actions, reactions, words and gestures will create the very hardships our relationships will experience. We come to blame the other person who is "reacting" to things we have just said or done. If your message being sent has an air of manipulation, control, judgements or disdain, just to name a few, then you have the makings of an all out and out battle.

Dr. Graydon Goss, Md says, "There are three major areas we call triggers which have strong tendencies to start so many of the conflicts between people, and they are:"
Accusations: These are well intentional statements or questions that are meant to express hurt, but instead imply blame. Hurts are inevitable and as much as we try to avoid them we just don't. These accusations are expressions of anger instead of hurt. "You never pay any attention to me", instead of "I'm feeling lonely." "Why can't you ever be on time?", instead of "I am feeling impatient and have been worried." We all have the tendency to make it about somebody else instead of an expression of self.
INVALIDATIONS: This is when we imply someone's feelings are wrong, misguided, inappropriate etc. "You shouldn't feel that way." These are and can be very subtle however, they really hurt. Feelings are very real, believe it or not. Anger generally precedes hurt and that goes to the bone. Be careful. Acknowledge others feelings and offer to help if you can.
PHONY FACTS: These are opinions and (mis) perceptions expressed as though they are fact."
"I was born in PA." That is a fact. "Your Mother treats you like a child." That is an opinion. These will always invite disagreements, rebuttal or defensiveness. People will usally feel attacked this way. Is this what you want to create in your life?

All three of these triggers are well intentioned but ineffective attempts to communicate. Accusations--hurtful substitutes for expressions of feelings.
Invalidations--hurtful substitutes for expressions concern.
Phony facts--hurtful substitutes for expressions of information.

Let's learn more effective ways to communicate.

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