Why can’t we communicate with certain people easily and resolve our problems? Why is it so Hoover Dam difficult sometimes?!
If you feel you have a block the size of the Great Wall of China keeping you from having productive and healthy communication in particular relationships…today I will offer you an opportunity to discover a solution.
For a moment think of a person that you have difficultly communicating with. Now pull yourself out of any emotion that came up, take a step back and get curious about your blocked wall of communication. Why is it difficult? What feelings of being let down, misunderstood, mistreated, unappreciated, undervalued and betrayed are responsible for creating this wall? Where did your wall come from? What is it really about?
Now I will give you a pre-warning we are about to get slightly psychoanalytical, but all for the purpose of helping you have healthier communication in strained relationships! You have been warned!
I’ll share a story to give you a better idea of where we are going:
A couple Nancy and Steve have been married for about 5 years. They love each other deeply, but the stress of the challenging economy has recently added a fair amount of tension in their lives and they have begun to feel they are growing a part. Steve feels like he is getting picked on all the time and nothing he does is good enough for Nancy. Nancy on the other hand feels she is being abandoned by Steve and has to pick up the slack of his absence because he is shutting down and going into his man cave. Every week they build more evidence and resentment toward one another. They each feel more and more misunderstood, unappreciated and hurt by the other, and their communication grows more strained, icy and resentful with less desire to work things out. It seems calling it quits might be the best solution. (Even though that is equally as painful because deep down they love each other.)
This is the story on the surface. I say ‘story’ because this is what is presently going on, but if we stop and investigate a little deeper, we can discover a story and prominent pattern that existed long before Nancy and Steve knew each other…
Nancy grew up and was the middle child of three. Both of her parents worked very hard to pay the bills every month. Nancy felt her older brother had a tendency to ditch his responsibilities and take care of himself, he didn’t seem to like his parents strict temperament and rebelled against them. Nancy took it upon herself to take up more responsibilities and look after her younger sister to make up for where she perceived her older brother to be lacking. This went on for years, but no matter how hard Nancy tried she never felt her parents truly acknowledged her for all her effort. She felt they took her hard work for granted and when they would come home from work she continually felt her parents didn’t reach out and ask how she was doing. To her they seemed trapped in their own worries and they didn’t give her much emotional support leaving her feeling alone and abandoned at times.
Steve on the other hand came from a more solid socioeconomic family. He was the older of two kids and his parents were both active in the community and expected a lot out of their children. Steve’s younger sister Sara was a bit of an over achiever you might say. Both Steve and Sara did well in sports and in their studies, but whatever Steve did he always felt it wasn’t enough for his parents. He felt he was always being compared to his sister. He felt his parents noticed more of what he was doing wrong, rather than all the areas in which he was doing great. Sara was also a bit of a social butterfly, things just seemed to work out for her and Steve felt more and more shut down around his family. Deep down he didn’t feel appreciated for who he was, as nothing he did was ever good enough, so what was the point of really trying?
I am offering up this case study as an example to help you to see that although Nancy and Steve are in a real challenging situation – the actual story they are telling themselves did not begin in their current relationship. Their pain and perceptions started long before they ever knew each other. In essence when Steve feels picked on and unappreciated, his nervous system and thought patterns are linked unbeknownst to him, back to when he felt picked on growing up. When Nancy speaks with a certain tone in her voice and uses certain language that is in anyway familiar to how his parents made him feel, the invisible wall suddenly comes up, and years worth of resentment come to the surface – Steve is now on the defense. Years worth of anger and resentment is difficult to communicate with (especially when the perception is rooted in that of a child.)
The same runs true for Nancy. Nancy has found the perfect partner that is challenging all of her deepest pains. Is this some sort of twisted cruel joke of life? That we bring people into our lives that show us our deepest pains? Yes and no I think.
If we step back a little and reflect, we can see that life seeks to evolve, grow and find higher levels of order. Obviously we were not satisfied with the first phone ever invented, the first TV, or first car. Each year life seems to pull the world forward toward new horizons. Each generation builds on the one before it – so perhaps this is the wisdom and order within the madness and chaos of our most challenging relationships. We are helping each other not only to support one another, but also to challenge each other to see what is really there. What pain needs to be healed in order to evolve within ourselves and break free from our limiting childhood patterns, into our true fully expressed Selves.
If you ask yourself honestly do you really want to stay stuck in your childhood limitations such as the ones Nancy and Steve reveal to us:
“I do all the work and feel alone and abandoned.”
“I am unappreciated and nothing I do is ever good enough.”
Is life, evolution or consciousness satisfied with these powerful limitations? Could life itself want us to find new perceptions and truths? Maybe. Philosophers have pondered such questions for years, but what I can share with you having been in the healing arts for over a decade, is that each of us has our fair share of internal baggage that we are still carrying around with us, and this baggage is preventing us from truly seeing the person standing in front of us, as well as keeping us stuck in the limiting beliefs of the past that block our ability to be free and fully express ourselves as adults.
So maybe take a look a relationship in your life that is communication-ally strained, (whether it be a partner, child, boss, parent, friend, etc.) and pull back, get curious and see what they are doing to cause you to put up your wall. Is there a bigger story that they are helping you to see?
To heal it you’ve got to see it, and profound growth, joy, inspiration and purpose lie within your healing process.
Many people are challenged by poor communication so hopefully this article will be of value and provide you with new insights for self-reflection and self-healing.