When something bothers you our first instinct is to avoid & deflect talking about it in all our relationships. Then in our silence our self-righteousness grows. Then as time goes by we feel grumpier & grumpier about it until we feel entitled to do a GIANT dump of our inner monologue on the other person…..who usually acts very defensively.
There are usually two characteristics about the dump that happens in relationships:
1. It takes the other person by surprise
2. It is filled with “You did this” and “You did this” and “You did this”.
This is a typical pattern of most adults and it is poisonous to relationships.
Relationships are not about the magic of a love affair (Though we may long for that). Relationships are all about the work of effective communication.
So one way to work at better communication is to edit out most of the “you” statements. One example: “You never appreciate me” is part of a dump that gets ignored & is defended against.
Instead try saying “I’m not feeling appreciated. I recognize I might be unreasonable about this sometimes because ……..” This is more of an invitation to the other to really listen.
We all get easily drunk with a love for the easiness of blame. It’s like downing mint juleps on the porch on a hot summer day. It’s a whole lot more satisfying in relationships to focus on how it’s the other person’s fault.
We ignore figuring out the want or hurt buried underneath the anger that we are responsible for sharing. So in our relationships we defend ourselves with a big pile of “You did this” and “You did that”. It’s really all about you when you attack by saying “You” “You” “You”. Using “I” statements instead requires a whole lot more self-awareness.
In our relationships it is our job to communicate our needs and to make ourselves understood. This requires greater openness & the strength of vulnerability. Defending ourselves is such a knee jerk habit it can be hard to change.
Dumping can take a huge toll on the other person. They may even give up trying to make themselves understood in relationships. Making “I” statements leaves more breathing room for the possibility of dialogue.
Dialogue is a very rare commodity in any relationships these days. It will be a real effort to interrupt the “You” statements. Yet one change could make a huge impact.
(PS My weekly blogs have not been consistent because I’m working on a book for kids about anxiety.)