Relating Well Begins Within
Relating well to one another is not an easy task. Our emotions threaten to overtake our brains. We say one thing and the receiver hears something completely different. Likewise, we hear what others say through our own personal filters. When communication breaks down, our emotions get even more confusing and we tend to further damage our connection by withdrawing or engaging in negative behaviors.
Here is the kicker, relating well begins with how we relate to ourselves and that is challenging for ALL of us!
All of us struggle with how we view ourselves. Some of the negative thought patterns that run through our heads were created long ago in abusive home environments or terrifying early school experiences. Some of the negative thought patterns are self-created through our own severe and often unattainable expectations of ourselves based upon our comparisons to others and cultural trends. We have this innate ability to convince ourselves we will never measure up and we play that recording in our heads over and over and over until we believe it to be our truth. We aren't worth love. We aren't good at parenting. We stink at sports, cooking, creative acts, etc. We are horrible friends. The list is endless and it is depressing because the reality is EVERYONE has strengths AND weaknesses.
Why is it we are so quick to embrace our shortcomings?
When we operate out of that negative recording in our heads, we fail to relate well to anyone outside of our brains. Our connection to spouses, friends, children, co-workers, etc. are all filtered through that negative view of self. That negative view of self blocks our ability to experience real connection with others. And, when we believe the negative recordings as truth, we are denying the beautiful truth that we are spiritual beings who were meant to learn and grow, fail and succeed, and learn and grow again and again. Whatever your Higher Power might be, when you believe the negative voices in your head as truth about who you are, you deny your divine spiritual essence, the core of who you were meant to be--a human being is meant to love and be loved.
What can we do to relate well?
We need to be attentive to where we are wounded and where those wounds might be festering. Those unattended to wounds come out in ways we least expect and often we don't understand our anger or negative reactions are rooted in a past relational wound. For example, if someone had learning challenges in elementary school that were addressed with shaming and ridicule, in their adult life they are prone to reacting in a way that breaks connection if their work on a project is critiqued or changes are requested. Once the awareness is formed that their reaction to their supervisor's request is linked to being treated poorly in elementary school, that person can begin to separate out the past from the present by reminding themselves that was the past, this is the present and while they feel the same, they are not the same. When the healing begins, relating improves because we are able to be more in the present with our emotions directing us towards what needs attention rather than taking over our rational thinking and behavior. A simple step to begin your journey into relating well is to notice the moments you feel triggered and begin to notice if there is a theme or if they occur in a certain context. You will be amazed at how powerful this practice can be and how much it can open the door to healing.