Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Help. We have a communication problem!"

Couples often look for help with communication with one another.  Often one partner will describe feeling frustrated with the other whom they perceive as unable or unwilling to communicate. They blame their partner for not telling them the truth, for withholding information, for saying nothing.  They feel angry, deceived, or threatened by the silence. These are certainly feelings that exist on the surface with little to no understanding of what lies deeper, more dormant. There are reasons that a person cannot communicate. Some of the most common reasons are that the person is afraid to speak. They have learned in their life that it is not emotionally safe to speak their truth. They are afraid that their words will be met with criticism or shame. This silent person may feel afraid of anger, conflict, saying the wrong thing, or offending another. Therefore, they learn to say nothing. They may even appear as if frozen in fear, unable to say a word. They have been silenced.  How does the partner interpret this emotional shut down? Personally; they take it to mean something about themselves.  It means  “he/she  doesn’t like me, he/she is withholding something from me, or he/she is not telling me the truth. The truth is that when we do not know something that we want to know, we make things up. In other words, if there is an empty space, we fill it up.  A lack of communication is easily healed with emotional safety. It is safe to say what you think and feel. Create environment in which those you love feel emotionally safe to communicate. Everyone will benefit. 

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