It was something that I avoided dealing with for a long time and it caused a great deal of damage to my relationships. So, this one comes from a dark place where all the sad memories live.
As a kid, I considered crying to be a sign of weakness so feelings of hurt, abandonment, disappointment, betrayal – everything got locked up in a dinky, dark corner of my mind where no one could ever reach them.
What I didn’t realise was that all of it was working its way into my life by influencing my choices and actions in subtle, little ways. It especially impacted my relationship with my mother. My mother was always very busy so, I often felt neglected and ignored. Little problems would balloon up into worse issues, all of them without me ever saying anything to her.
I wouldn’t express myself because I was always afraid of breaking down and crying in front of her. As an adult, I became resentful and worse, I had little to no awareness of it. I would care for her, but all of it with a feeling of certainty that while I loved, I was not loved in return.
One day I snapped, and it all came pouring out in one pathetic, sad little torrent of jumbled words. It was the best thing that could’ve ever happened. I was like a confused child begging for understanding when it had been there all along.
My mother had been aware of something going on with me, but she was afraid of broaching the issue and unwittingly, pushing me away. There was so much misunderstanding to work through, and we did work through it.
Out of all that madness came an unshakeable bond. Having her in my corner and more importantly, KNOWING that she is in my corner has completely changed me.
I am so much more confident because I know she has my back. Perhaps some of you can relate to what I’ve shared to some extent. Despite its overwhelming importance, communication in relationships is given very little importance. Even if we feel like we want to speak up, we don’t really know where to start and the more we think about it, the more unsure we become.
Then it just seems easier not to do or say anything, until the next time and the whole thing starts again. We either end up becoming victims of our own doubts and fears or we completely break things off and walk away just to avoid a tough conversation.
If it comes from a place of calm understanding, communication in relationships can become a lot easier.
Never initiate a conversation in a state of high emotions because the other person isn’t always going to be your mom and therefore, ever forgiving.
In an emotional state, you may end up saying something hurtful and cruel which may worsen the whole situation. Try to work through things on your own and reach a calmer frame of mind.
Understand that there is a communication gap and that it is your responsibility to bridge that gap. You need to verbalise your emotions.
Related: 3 Keys To A Healthy Relationship
Regardless of how much someone loves you, they are not mind-readers.
We have all been guilty of wishing that the people who love us would just ‘get’ how we’re feeling as a proof of their love for us. Well, sorry to break it to you, but unless you are in a movie, things don’t work like that. You got something to say, speak up!
Accept that every relationship in the world has these moments.
Chances are you are just as responsible for whatever has happened. They say, what you allow is what will continue.
You could’ve been guilty of letting them get away with things in the past, or you may just be guilty of not giving an honest reaction to things they say or do. You may even have been guilty of doing similar things to them.
Think about it carefully and accept your part in it. Don’t get aggressive if the other person points out your faults.
Try to understand, and keep an open mind. Don’t get defensive or you’ll hurt whatever little progress has been made.
If you don’t agree with what is being said, say the following –
“I hear what you are saying. My understanding of the situation is different, but it is possible that I am unable to see things from your perspective. I will try my best to do things differently and be more mindful of your feelings in the future.”
Whatever you do, don’t refuse to acknowledge their feelings or your own part in it. It would be like you expecting things from them, you can’t deliver.
There are some really clever people who think it’s a great idea to leave subtle little hints like breadcrumbs and ‘help’ the other person realise their mistake without them really having to say or do anything.
It is a juvenile, underhanded way of tackling the situation and if you have any amount of respect for your relationship or for the other person, please don’t do it.
You need to maintain your dignity and you can’t do that if you’re acting from a place of cowardice or selfishness. Being afraid is not a crime.
Open the conversation with, “I am afraid, but I want to be as honest as I can be. I’ll appreciate your patience and understanding.”
Verbalising your fear will give you courage. It’s out there and therefore, no longer influencing your actions in confusing ways.
Also, verbalising your fears means you have created an open and honest environment; you never know, the other person might be just as afraid as you are.
It always pisses me off when people dig up sh*t from the past and use it as a reason not to acknowledge that I’ve changed and grown or worse, as a way to keep attacking me.
Don’t do that, especially if the situation is already fraught with heightened emotions. Focus on the situation at hand.
Bringing up things from the past is more like a strategised attack where you are hoping to shame and guilt the other person. It will be counter-productive and destroy what little understanding you have built.
Don’t – You are inconsiderate and insensitive
Do – There are times when I feel overlooked or ignored by you. I would like for us to discuss that.
By doing this, you assure them that they are not under attack. You establish that you are trying to better understand the situation and would like to work WITH them.
Listen to what is being said. Just as you have things to say, they do too. Let them say their piece. Listen carefully, and try to really understand. If any part of it seems wrong or unclear, talk about it.
Change and growth take time. Progress is if you see your loved one trying to do better and be the sort of person you need them to be; appreciate them for it. Do not expect them to change overnight.
Don’t expect them to change at all. Expect them to handle things differently, be more sensitive and considerate of your needs. keep the channels of communication open, but always be kind in your choice of words.
Constantly acknowledge their efforts. Don’t be patronising, just find little ways to show your love and gratitude.
Smile warmly at them whenever they do something nice.
Leave random, little thank you notes.
Give them a spontaneous hug
Thank them for being there for you.
Infuse your relationship with warmth and make it the safest place they’ve ever known.
I read the part of my own story I’ve put down on this page and the words seem so inadequate.
They are simply not enough to cover the pain and helplessness I dealt with on a daily basis. Please, don’t be a victim of your own fear.
You have every right to feel the way you do, but don’t bottle things up or they’ll come out in spurts of destructive emotional displays.
You may think you’re alone in your suffering, but chances are without even realising you are giving subtle indications of being unhappy which must be causing confusion and hurt to your loved ones.
The most important component of a healthy relationship is open communication.
1) Analyse, understand and Accept
2) Take Responsibility
3) Don’t play mind games
4) Don’t dig up old wounds
5) Level your issues at actions, not at the individual
6) Listen carefully
7) Don’t expect instant results
Take the first step, and you’ll find that the other person is more than willing to walk the rest of the distance WITH you. If not, then you need to reevaluate the relationship.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Use the comment box below, and let’s help each other be better. The first step is always better self-awareness.
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