Have you found yourself going to great lengths with your partner
to keep the peace? Most commonly, we will take too much
responsibility for them when things go wrong by cleaning up
THEIR mess, and we won’t speak our real truth.
Today I want to focus on the lack of direct communication and
WHY we avoid such forthright communication.
Let’s start with my definition of Direct Communication: this is
when we speak up about what we truly think, feel and want.
The Lonely Light Bulb—A True Story
Loretta set a single light bulb on the kitchen table, in hopes that
her husband, Ron, would notice the overhead light was burnt out
and replace it.
Two weeks later, the light bulb was still sitting there, but now feeling
very lonely. Loretta can’t take his ignoring it anymore and blows up
at Ron when he innocently asks what they’re eating for dinner. Ron
had no idea what just hit him.
We expect others to read our minds and know our desires, but
they simply don’t. We get all worked up into a lather, feeling mega
resentful, destroying our connection with our partner.
So WHY do we avoid direct communication?
It comes down to Self-Protection which is all about FEAR.
We fear their reaction
We fear the tension/awkwardness
We fear we won’t have the right words
We make assumptions about and fear what they think about us and/or a situation (projection)
We Fear Their Reaction
It sounds easy enough, right? NOPE. The two words, “I want”
are some of the scariest in the dictionary because they portray
our beliefs, which then opens us up to judgment, criticism, and
rejection. We fear their reaction, especially our partner’s, because
they hold so much sway over our quality of life.
What if they disagree with our view on things? Will they get angry
at us, withhold love, verbally attack us with cutting words, or
physically accost us?
If we grew up in a household where someone was frequently
or even sporadically angry without warning, we can grow up
into adults who shy away from confrontation and equate it with
something to avoid at all cost. Conflict must be bad according
to our frightened, little inner child.
We Fear The Tension/Awkwardness
When we speak our truth, there IS an awkwardness and
vulnerability because we’re stepping into the unknown of
the other’s response.
However, think about this. Tension may not feel good, but
what is worse, the temporary discomfort of the potentially
difficult confrontation (it’s almost always worse in our own mind
than in reality or what the other person will think), or the perpetual
pain of not feeling heard, understood and loved that comes along
with avoiding honest talk?
It’s always the latter that is more debilitating. Some pain now or a
slow, steady stream of it for the rest of your life? What would you
choose. The answer is obvious.
We Fear We Won’t Have The Right Words
Some people get very worked up about their inability to form
thoughts that make any sense, let alone express them through
Truth is we CANNOT think clearly when we are anxious and
overwhelmed, in fear of what others think of us. Fear triggers
the flight, fight or freeze response in our brain, the blood leaves
the brain and we lose our ability to think calmly and clearly.
I know so many people who think they’re stupid when it comes
to test taking because they lose their rational mind and freak out.
They make this mean they have sub-par intelligence, but it’s
not true. They’ve just temporarily “lost their mind.”
We Make Assumptions and Project Our Fear Onto A Situation
It’s a very human thing to conclude what others are thinking/feeling
based on our own history of experiences. This is clinically called
Projection (according to Google) is the “tendency to disown the
qualities we don’t like about ourselves and see them in others. It
is the single most derailing and destructive phenomenon in
intimate relationships. Its power lies in our inability to see it.”
We avoid direct communication because we are telling a story
about our partner’s truth. We are assuming they will be angry,
disappointed, jealous, etc. But do we know this to be true?
We really need to question these stories. If in doubt, perhaps we
can muster the courage to ask them what they think, instead of
Do you bend over backwards to keep the peace with your partner?
If so, consider being more direct today than you were yesterday and
effectively express your needs/feelings/wants.
Eases the heavy burden of wearing a mask/gives you emotional relief
Gets your connection needs/wants met (feels light and fulfilling)
Creates true harmony within and a win/win in your relationship. Why?
Because the other is getting to know the REAL you, and you’ll feel much more
comfortable in your own skin.
TIP: Start with something small – communicate honestly in a small way. Say where
you want to go for dinner, for example.
We’d love to hear from you on this topic. Post a comment below with your
thoughts and what one small action you’ll take today.