How often have you stressed about something because you misunderstood what you heard? If you’re upset about something you were told – ask questions – clarify – be sure you understand. Communicating thoughts and feelings is complicated. We don’t always get it right the first time.
This was my post on Facebook recently. The thought has stayed with me for a week so I will add to the “Reader’s Digest” version of getting it right.
We don’t always get it right the first time. No matter how well we know someone we don’t always understand their feelings or position until we discuss the matter further. You probably can think of many examples from your own experiences.
My thoughts are focused on situations that are more complicated than a simple misunderstanding. If a conversation triggers a past fear, or negative experience, communication and understanding get really murky. It’s normal to immediately relate to your past and yet it’s not the best way to respond. By tapping into old feelings you can completely miss the point the other person is making. You may retreat to your safe place; flight, become defensive; fight, or spend days in angst over something that isn’t real. Relationships can be damaged and even ruined when this happens.
A loved one expresses a feeling – it triggers emotional pain from your past – you have a flight or fight reaction – misunderstandings and worry result.
So what do we do? We all have baggage, negative feelings that can be triggered. If you’ve been abused there are layers of feelings that can resurface. Here’s my advice. I give it from experience but must admit it’s easier to give advice than to follow it!
We need to live in the present, the state of healing that we’ve accomplished, putting our past behind us. However, that doesn’t mean we forget our past. The emotional pain you’ve endured is a part of your make-up and can interfere with your healed life. Be aware of situations that cause your pain to resurface. Awareness will not bring the pain back. It will help you cope with new situations in a healthier way. If you can tell yourself that you are not being re-victimized, you’re simply connecting the present to your past, it will help you have a clearer perspective, fewer misunderstandings and less worry. Not easy, but an important mindset to strive for.
The second step is to communicate your fears and feelings. If the misunderstanding is with someone you’re comfortable with, tell them what you’re experiencing: I’m feeling like I did when I was being abused, I’m afraid you are going to leave me, I think I’m not good enough…Most likely they will tell you that the conflict is nothing like that, you’re going down the wrong path. Hopefully your openness will open the door for more precise conversation until you clearly understand and can resolve the issue in a healthy way – free from past feelings.
Getting it right the first time requires: staying in the present, stating our feelings openly and keeping an open mind towards others. Unfortunately that level of confidence may take a lifetime, to achieve so until then remember: We’re all a work in progress, don’t ever give up! Roberta