Conscious communication is about taking responsibility for your experience, your feelings and the deeper childhood experience that created the trigger for your reaction. Also, it’s about keeping the space between you and your partner safe. Remember that anger is a cover feeling. We are never angry for the reason we think. If either of you is angry because your partner isn’t listening to you, it’s more than likely true that you had a parent who didn’t listen in the way that you needed. What’s underlying is probably feeling unimportant, sad, hurt, frustrated or alone. Yours may be different, though deeper than anger. Communicating when you’ve taken some time to figure it out will keep each of you from the automatic reaction. If you want to switch, notice if that switch is to defend yourself or be right. Take time to understand your partner, so you can consciously talk about your experience. Often a switch isn’t necessary.
A dialogue needs to be set up for both of you to win. Automatically dialoging will only lead to more reactive expression and behavior, where you ultimately continue to feel unsafe and disconnected. You are both responsible for keeping the space between you clean and safe. Remember that if you just start talking and expect your partner to mirror you, it will only create more disappointment. That’s the reason for the dialogue structure.
You can also dialogue about your day, the kids, or something innocuous just to learn the process. Keep your cheat sheet with you as you do this. Many people think they’ve dialogued enough if they just mirror. Going deeper into validation and empathy allows the listener to understand more deeply your experience, so more healing can take place. You can reduce the dialogue sheet, laminate it and keep it with you for times outside of your home.
It’s amazing how clear you can be in 3 or 4 sentences. Just practice and see if you can say your frustration consciously. When it goes on and on, your partner may lose the essence of what you’re wanting them to hear. It may be difficult at first to not want to go on and on, which is why I say…practice. Also, if it’s a long process, when you ask for a dialogue, it may feel like a chore. If as the receiver you feel like it’s too much to mirror, calmly put your hand up a little and say “let me see if get you,” letting them know that it’s important that you are able to hear them.
For example; “When we’re out and walking, I don’t want you to walk ahead of me” becomes, “When we’re out and walking, I’d like you to walk beside me and hold my hand.” Asking for what you would like, allows your partner to give you the gift, rather than pointing out what’s wrong. It becomes a criticism…we don’t connect through criticism. Right? With a child, or even talking to yourself, “Don’t spill your milk” will almost assure the milk will spill. If you change that to “please hold on to your glass”, you will get a more positive response. I remember bringing my coffee into a supermarket and saying to myself, “you’re going to spill this,” and almost immediately it spilled. Amazing how that works.
Take a break and come back to it. Make a specific time, so you know you will revisit it shortly. You always want to let your partner know that what they have to say matters to you.
Be kind to each other. You’re in it together. Thank each other for going on this journey with you. You’re learning a whole new way to communicate. It’s a very valiant journey toward getting the love you want
By: Bobbi Newman