Ever have those situations where the ‘talk’ is required? Where part of the brain feels that things are out of balance but we keep doing what feels like the lions share of work to avoid the “dreaded talk”. The talk where I express how I feel. Then I imagine how the other person will launch into a series of justifications about their behavior. I will hear how I am wrong to feel the way I do. They will feel hurt or criticized by what I say. Even worse, they may disingenuously agree with everything I say to end the talk as quickly as possible.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Before I even start a conversation with the other person I’ve already argued it all out with them in my head! Then I’m worked up into a reactive mode and ready to make my point. As if this has not already doomed me to failure then I start off the conversation with the inflammatory “YOU”. It may sound like “When YOU did this. YOU made me feel this. And YOU need to change this.” Then hurt and confused I just can’t seem to understand how and why they are unable to see my point of view.
This is what communication used to look like for me. They yell. I yell. We both yell. Nothing is resolved. More anger and hurt feelings build up for the next explosion. We walk around ignoring each other. Then we pretend like it never happened. Repeat.
I still avoid those talks as much as possible. For one thing, I noticed if I work on ME, keep the focus on ME, look within myself to see what they have triggered in ME, then many times ‘the talk’ becomes a mute point. The other reason is I still think those talks SUCK.
I have learned to start off with “I want…..”. In my mind I may still scream if this Mother F*&cker acts like they don’t know what I’m saying I’m going to rip their eyes out. Breath deep. Relax. Rip their eyes out. Breath deep. relax. My ego wants to rip their eyes out so I don’t have to risk being vulnerable. My higher self wants to be vulnerable so that I can have intimacy.
I have learned how to really hear what they are saying. My ego may still think “that’s just stupid and who the hell can be so delusional to think such utter rubbish”. With much desire to grow and disgust over ineffective communication my lips are able to slip out the words “I hear what you are saying. I appreciate you telling me how you feel. You may be right.” Quite often I mean it. Other times I just condition myself to build the habit of what is effective until I am able to mean it.
I have also learned to stick with how I feel. My ego thinks “this is obvious if you stopped being such a self absorbed, self-centered and unconscious a#*hole then I wouldn’t have to explain this to you.” My higher self exposes my feelings with words like “I feel hurt when I am talking to you and feel like you are not present.” I may even say “This may seem silly but I feel hurt when…..” What I want or need may not be fair or realistic or even possible and I’ve learned it’s ok to express that up front. “Hey this is the fairy tail version. I get that and I still want to share how I feel with you”.
So before I engage in the ‘dreaded talk’ I attempt to ask myself three important questions.
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘is it true?’. At the second gate ask, ‘is it necessary?’. At the third gate ask ‘is it kind?’.” – Sufi Saying.
When I forget all this and yell at “YOU”, then I must take personal inventory and promptly admit when I am wrong. The kids love to hear that one! “Mommy say it again”. I’ve noticed pretty much everyone likes to hear “you were right and I was wrong.” It’s gotten much easier for me to say with much practice!