Everyone wants to be wanted or needed and to feel appreciated and let's face it, needing someone can be scary especially when you know from past experiences how awful and hard it is to recover from losing someone you felt like you needed. Another thing we humans like to have as much of as possible is control. We love to think that we are in control of something and when we feel out of control we tend to try and find a way to create it ourselves.
One way to generate that power we long for is by keeping distance because controlling that decision makes us feel safe and like we have control of our emotions. We must be at least willing to try something new, or we will perpetuate the same disconnected relationships of past. Doing something over and over again expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, if you want a new result, you have to do something different.
The only thing that I've found helpful when trying to change has been the gratifying experience of learning to recognize when I am holding back or not saying out loud the thoughts are rolling through my brain and in real-time choosing to speak up about it. Sometimes I don't catch myself immediately but as soon as I do I stop myself and verbally acknowledge to myself and my partner what I just realized and sometimes there is a great deal of fulfillment experienced by both of us just because I was able to identify the obstacle almost immediately.
Of course, there is risk involved but what is the alternative if we never let our guard down?
"The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you, and the last thing I want you to see in me." - Brene Brown
When allowing ourselves to be vulnerable we feel more connected, invested, respected, valued, needed and desired. That said, vulnerability is a paradox. You get a break from wasting energy trying to protect yourself. Stop worrying about having every answer. We no longer need to work to impress others; we don't have to worry about saying the right thing, we can just talk.
When I engage in conversation usually it's not just to hear myself talk, I want to be understood, I think most of us have that goal in mind. My communication style is intuitive which means that I only care about the forest, not the individual trees. Details are cumbersome to me. The most significant reason for miscommunication in my interactions happens when I'm talking with functional communicators. Those who crave the details, clarity, planning, and end points. They overlook nothing and account for all aspects. Often the difference in styles creates obstacles which lead to misunderstandings.
I get so frustrated when I'm talking, and there is no response, no acknowledgment. It feels like I'm just providing information rather than having a conversation. Then I feel like what I have to say is not important. I'm left reeling over things like, did I mention something I shouldn't have or use the wrong words? Was I not clear, did I leave out necessary details? By the time we talk, again I have over-analyzed the previous conversation to an unrecognizable state (see my post on Assumptions). Which doesn't solve anything, in fact, it only creates more problems to work through.
As hard as it is to do in practice, I try to keep reminding myself that feelings are never right or wrong, they just are. So I have to convince myself that I shouldn't take it as a personal attack. The person I was talking to wasn't engaged in the conversation because I didn't provide the details needed for him to invest. That or, I dominated the conversation because I wasn't listening to listen, I was waiting for my turn to respond. Once all of that is out of the way, it's pretty easy to clarify and remedy the situation (though getting to that point can feel like an eternity sometimes).
I also have a terrible habit of getting frustrated and then shutting down and just responding "ok" when deep down I don't feel "ok, " but I refuse to say anything. I don't want to make it worse but that whole thought process, if put into action, does make it worse. I think all of it could be avoided by just staying in the moment and asking questions until everything is crystal clear, but man is that tough to do because we all have pride and that pride does not like being swallowed! I'm not perfect yet, but I am well on my way! Haha!
Some people are always ready to communicate, anytime day or night but I am not that person. I require a certain amount of prep work. I can listen to someone else, but as for sharing my day or talking about what I'm working on or interested in or excited about, I have to be in the mood or get myself motivated to do so. I've only started to notice myself being this way as I have gotten older which has made me wonder why. I have a half-baked theory to share.
Before I can have a meaningful conversation, I have to get right with myself and do some self-validating. I have to remind myself that I don't need for the other person to get excited with me or understand my thoughts or feelings or agree with me. I have to remind myself that their reactions and responses (or lack thereof) do not determine the relevance of what I have to say. It takes work to do this because it is not my default mode, I would prefer everyone think I'm brilliant and always right, and everything I have to say is intellectual and stimulating. Unfortunately, that is not the way life works thus the reason I must mentally prepare and sometimes I just think I'm too tired or too lazy to equip myself properly so let's chat another time.
We communicate to share and share to be understood (see my post on Miscommunication). We seek for others to share in our excitement when we are happy and we seek comfort and support when we are sad. But I think that sure puts a lot of pressure on the other person to know what you need or want in that moment and give it to you unconditionally. Maybe there is a compromise somewhere in there, but I haven't found it yet. I will say this though, because of the way I compensate for what I need or want I have started to become a better conversationalist for those around me. I have learned the difference between listening and hearing, receiving information and engaging, asking questions and seeking clarification.
Of course, it is still a fantastic feeling when someone else validates us; I think we all crave validation from time to time so knowing how to self-validate is maybe a worthwhile skill to master even if it means not always being ready to have a meaningful conversation at the drop of a hat. Quality interactions can just learn to have a little patience!
Have you ever heard the line "assuming makes an ass out of u and me"? And to think, we all make hundreds of assumptions every day. I'm not implying we are all assholes because more often than not we make them subconsciously, the only time it makes us the asshole is when we knowingly do it. When there are gaps in the information collected, we fill in those blanks to reconcile what we are experiencing with what we think is going on. We don’t even realize we do this. When we expect certain things or hope not to have them, guess what my friend, unspoken expectations or lack thereof can be a form of assuming.
Most of us didn't get here with OnStar; we had help crafting the perfect storm with the help of our insecurities or all those participation trophies we received as children. Or any number of other factors, bad relationships, or a variety of different ingredients that went into the blender to form the bittersweet concoction that I know I have had to taste from time to time.
The danger is, that what our senses are telling us, and what we think is happening, may not be the reality (see my post on Miscommunication) . So how do we permanently remove that address from the GPS and choose not to drink the Kool-Aid? (I've never much liked Kool-Aid anyway, if you know me then you know I prefer Powerade)!
Being aware is insightful, but solving for it seems to be little more difficult. So far, these are a few of the strategies I've found some success with:
- Be curious, ask questions, gain clear information before making decisions
- Freely give trust, change your default first to assume the best
- If you didn't see it or hear it yourself, don't write your script for a scene you experience.
So how do you deal with assumptions? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!
As much as it pains me to admit, I am guilty of this. What is stonewalling you ask? It can show up in a couple different ways like when someone refuses to participate in the conversation or mid-sentence they just change the subject. Other ways of stonewalling include the silent treatment or my personal favorite, when asked if something is wrong (because clearly there is something wrong) I simply respond "nothing" (see my post about Miscommunication).
For me, stonewalling started out innocently, usually by trying to avoid conflict or calm myself down and keep from stressing out, or sometimes I honestly didn't know how I felt at the moment or what to say so it was a defense mechanism of sorts to just stay silent.
The impact that stonewalling has though is not so innocent, quite frankly, its passive aggressive in that we think the other person should already know what's wrong or what they did wrong so we shouldn't have to tell them. That leaves the other person feeling ignored, misunderstood, invalidated or just plain hurt. Left unattended for too long, it will certainly lead to resentment.
Many times I would have already played out how I thought the conversation would go before even having it and then I would use that as justification for not having the conversation at all (see my post on Assumptions). It has taken me a long time to realize I was going about it all wrong.
If we are going to have successful relationships where communication flows freely then we have to start assuming the best of our partner, every time. Stop thinking we know what they are going to say or do because they might surprise you. I know I have been surprised time and time again with the patience and willingness to learn from each other and grow together, the thoughtfulness that my significant other has shown me has changed my whole way of thinking and interacting.
I haven't yet mastered this completely but I am definitely well on my way. Hope this helps someone else as much as learning it for myself has helped me!
The Masters Of Illusion
Our experiences and our relationships are what mold us into the people we are whether they are positive or negative. While I have learned a lot in my 35 years and so far the good outweighs the bad, the bad still had the most memorable impact on me.
Things are not always what they seem, and neither are people. There are impostors out there who have mastered the art of illusion, and the facade they put on is top notch.
I am somewhat naive, and I desperately want to see the good in people so as you can guess I have set myself up for failure a few times. Probably the most frustrating part is that I know I am an intelligent girl yet I allowed someone to betray me. It rocked me to my core and changed me as a person, and as a result, I built defense mechanisms so that I wouldn't ever have to go through something like that again.
The signs were there I guess I just didn't want to see them. Anytime someone tries to control, isolate, manipulate or blame you for everything or when they can't find anything to accuse you of so they make things up and run a smear campaign against you, those should be red flags that send you running in the opposite direction!
The only way to deal with this type of person is to sever all ties and cut off all contact, and the sooner you do it, the better. You still might not be in the clear though because now winning you back has become a challenge and they want nothing more than to win.
They will go to great lengths to try and convince you that they have changed or that they will do whatever it takes. They will probably even admit to seeing the error of their ways even though it is a complete lie. After they have tried everything they can think of their final attempt will be to try and remain friends. To them you are not a person, you are a piece of property, and they desperately want to keep tabs on you.
I built up walls so high I didn't think I would ever let anyone in again but then I met Andrew. He has taught me what it feels like to be loved, appreciated and accepted. He broke down the walls and reminded me of who I am and helps me every day to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday. I am a lucky girl.
New Words & Failed Relationships
Recently I learned a new word; I didn't know exactly what it meant so I looked it up. I quickly realized that while the term wasn't familiar to me, the definition was. I have had many failed relationships, some of them were good and positive experiences, and others were not so good and ended badly. For the most part, though I walked away from almost all of them have learned something about myself, and I'm better off for it. Many of those relationships failed, but they were not failures. I came out of them a better version of myself armed with more tools in my toolbox and more prepared for the type of relationship I have now. Honestly, it wasn't until my last two relationships that I even realized how previous bad ones were. The last couple of years has been hard work trying to break down the walls I built during one awful relationship. This new word I learned perfectly defines that toxic relationship.
gaslighting: to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation.
The whole intention of gaslighting is to decrease someone's self-esteem and self-confidence, so they are unable to function independently. The person gaslighted will eventually become so insecure that they will fail to trust their judgment, their intuition and find themselves unable to make decisions. They will use tactics such as: discrediting you by making other people think you are crazy/irrational/unstable, use confidence and assertiveness to make you doubt yourself. They will refuse to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts by calling you a liar or deny having said something that they did in fact say, and if that doesn't do the trick, they will retreat into victim mode to try and get you to apologize even though you've done nothing wrong.
My experience with this started out slowly. I saw red flags, but I couldn't pinpoint the problem and when I eventually did it was challenging to get away from the situation because I felt broken and beat down both mentally and emotionally. By the end of the relationship, I felt like a much weaker version of myself. I felt isolated, hopeless and completely misunderstood. I thought I had lost a part of me that I would never get back and I was angry that I had allowed someone that much control over my thoughts and feelings. Looking back I wish I had ended things long before I did; the signs were there I just wasn't paying close enough attention.
Bed Of Roses
No really, the new mattress is like laying on a bed of roses. That being said, I feel much better today! I am a girl, I am really good at over analyzing things. I can turn something into an unrecognizable version of itself and completely rationalize it in my head. Fortunately I have an awesome boyfriend who is kind, understanding, patient and willing to work with me so that things continue moving in the right direction. I am loved and it is really good to be loved. That is all!