The art of staying connected in difficult conversations: Sharing how you feel, with vulnerable hones
I used to think that relationships had to be hard.. I gave into the relentlessness of it all and just thought, this is the hard work I have to sign up to in order to be rewarded with love. The arguments, misunderstandings and misalignment of interests just came as a part of the package for me. I didn’t know any different, I hadn't experienced or seen many relationships where partners are joyfully connecting with each other, where they take responsibility and ask for what they need or listen to one another with curiosity and care. I saw mostly annoyance, frustration and putting up with each other along the way.
When I started to learn the skills of nonviolent communication I realized that my experiences were not the full reality. That I actually had a choice to be in a relationship in an entirely different way. To express what I need before it becomes a resentment, and therefore live life in reality as partners, rather than in my head where I can build an entire story of our relationships which naturally seeps out into our interactions and poisons the way that I see my partner and experience myself.
Why I like to dance and make ceramic pots and why my partner enjoys following links on wikipedia and learning about history and culture. Why I want to talk about my feelings NOW and why he wants to go for a walk to clear his head.
This realization came when I understood what lies behind my actions and choices. The reason why I do what I do and why my partners make their choices. It also lead me to realise how very often I was not expressing myself clearly when I wanted to have conversations about my own needs, I was confused about why I was feeling hurt or annoyed, and my automatic reaction would be to either blame myself or blame my partner.
Understanding the motivation and reason WHY I wanted to express myself in those moments of confusion, gave me options, choices, clarity and a key to unlock more opportunities for alignment within my relationship. When I understand WHY, I can ask myself “what am I asking my partner to do? how else can I meet this need if my partner is not available”?
I am also able to ask for what I need within the relationship with more clarity, rather than hoping that my partner will de-code my messy self expression and understand me fully without being triggered by anything that I say - (Yes that would be amazing if we could all magically do that for each other right? )
A question that has supported me to really clarify what is important for me in a moment of conflict or when I am feeling lost in my relationships is “what is my motivation for wanting to have this conversation / share how I am feeling ?” Am I doing or saying this in order to meet my needs? Or am I trying to get something from the other person ?
Am I motivated to do this because it makes me happy, gives me joy and comes from a well of giving and life from within me? Or am I motivated to do or say this because of some kind of reward or punishment that I am hoping to get out of this..? Do I want the other person to suffer so that I can feel seen in my pain? Do I want them to love me more or stay longer ? Am I trying to get them to do something for me without being clear about my motivations because I feel ashamed of what I really need (reassurance, support, love, acceptance, consideration…).
So I leave you with these questions to ponder on for now.
If you try the exercises in this video - tell me how did it go for you?