What are you really saying when you’re saying what you’re saying…..
Ah, communication. Is there anything more necessary, and yet more convoluted as honest communication? We have so many ways of expressing our unhappiness, our needs, our longing – yet for the most part we fall into unconscious, unauthentic, and fearful ways to say what we really want to say. This kind of communicating usually results in us not getting our needs met, creating resentment, and building greater and greater obstacles to loving, respectful, and supportive relationships.
Couples often present in couple therapy arguing about a specific situation: money, child-rearing, sex, yet almost always, the underlying issues are about attachment.
“I don’t trust you about money” can be translated into “I’m scared to be disappointed, I’m afraid to count on anyone else, I’m afraid I won’t be taken care of ..”
“I don’t want you near me” can mean “I am so hurt, I am afraid to be hurt again..”
“Fine then, do what you want!” often translates to “I feel helpless and don’t know how to fix this” … And so the dance continues.
It happens so often that we lash out when what we are really asking for is our partner to draw near, to connect – but how might they be able to do that if we are asking with bared teeth and boxing gloves!?
I’ve also noticed this in interactions between parents and children. Sometimes we ask questions: “What are you buying that for? Why are you dating him/her?” when what we are really saying is “It’s hard for me to let you go, I want what I think is the best for you …”
Miscommunication also happens in the receiving of messages – so that when we say to our children “That’s not what I would have done!” our children hear “You can’t make any good decisions at all can you!?” – and so it goes, the long and winding road of misunderstanding.
In your next conversation, might you be able to challenge yourself and speak from the heart? What might be the barrier between authentic communication and the tension-filled accusations that serve as “talking” now? Is it riskier to say “I need you?” or “I’m scared” than it is to begin that old argument about who is going to pay for what? Humans have a tendency of behaving in ways that will confirm their own worst fears. Ironically, we do that when we don’t communicate effectively, and then take the response as proof that our partners have the worst intentions.
What we don’t realize is that once we begin speaking authentically, it snowballs into a connected and respectful conversation that allows you to be heard and understood, and allows you to listen and understand. You can only grow from there.
Speaking from the heart is not a task for the faint of heart!