Recently I received this request from a reader:
What I have found lacking is books or articles on the process of revealing my feelings, the associated pain and some kind of plan to work through the feelings that would help DURING the healing process. Knowing the common steps of healing would be very encouraging and provide both patience and hope.
When you push your feelings down as a child in order to cope with an environment which cannot tolerate them (Childhood Emotional Neglect), you grow up lacking access to your emotions. A large part of the process of healing involves breaking down the wall between yourself and your feelings, and welcoming them.
But what if many of those old feelings are painful? What if the process is so painful that it’s too hard to let the wall down? What if you lack the skills needed to cope with the pain because no one ever taught you?
Managing painful feelings happens on Two Levels:
Next week’s article will be about Level 2: Long-Term Resolving. So check back!
I just can’t say that to her. I don’t want to hurt her!
How many times have those words been uttered in my office? Countless. A lot of husbands and wives feel that it’s much better to keep their relationship concerns to themselves than to risk hurting their partners by voicing them.
Good news! There is a way to tell your partner negative things.
Say that you’re worried that your husband is drinking too much…or that you feel your wife is too wrapped up in your son’s life…or even that you are feeling unhappy in your relationship in general (yes, that’s a really tough one!). Here are the steps to follow:
1. Ask yourself: How would I feel if my partner said this to me?
2. Ask yourself: If my partner felt this way, how would I want him or her to tell me this? What would make it easier for me to hear?
3. Formulate your ultimate goal in bringing up the issue ahead of time. Don’t expect to perform miracles with one conversation. Maybe you will just plant a seed that can be nurtured over time. Many conversations may be required to fully address some issues.
4. Communicate your issue in a careful, thoughtful, compassionate way. Be prepared for your partner to be upset, and if you start to feel defensive, keep it in check.
Keep in mind that you must speak your truth, even if it is painful for you and for your partner. Buried, unadressed issues fester and can destroy relationships. Issues that are communicated about directly and with compassion may hurt at first, but they lose their power to be destructive.