Click here to read Article 1 in these 4-part series.
Miscommunication. What is it all about?
Why did she snap at you? Why is he reacting as if you’ve stepped on his toes? Are they nuts? Or are you?
You’ve had a bad reaction to what you said or did. By all counts, it seems an overreaction, unfair or unwarranted.
If you just assume that they are wrong and you are right, then you are part of the problem. Relationships are the primary evolution course for us humans. Therefore, the best path to personal development is to examine yourself first when you encounter any troubled interaction.
What if what you said or did does warrant the other person’s response?
You are shaking your head. No. Their reaction does not match your intentions.
You may be sure of that. But that is just your logical, conscious mind analyzing the entire interaction based ONLY in its own limited scripts. That’s exactly what the other person is doing. So do you want to do something different, or just enter a deadlock?
If you relax into your own self-knowledge instead of focusing on saving face, you may begin to realize that your conscious mind may not be fully aware of the connotations and implications that your acts have. This “blind spots” happen for several reasons.
- Habit. You may be used to saying or doing things like the ones you just did without thinking. Perhaps it’s learned behavior. As a result, you do not fully realize the impact and connotations of your words or actions. Let’s say that you said something like “Who are you to…?” You may think that this is just a call to being humble. But it may be that you are repeating phrases that were used by your elders to disempower you. If you listen to the feelings that the other person is expressing in her apparently inappropriate reaction, you may suddenly find yourself in deep empathy with them as your Inner Child remembers how YOU felt when they said this to you. This then becomes a healing connection instead of a contention.
- Gender and culture. Men and women have different biological and cultural perceptions and responses. Different cultures perceive things differently. If you are not mindful of these differences, you are responsible for the troubled interaction (though not for the specific response of the other person). What can you do? You need to acknowledge and honor the differences between you. Asking questions, learning more about the other person’s history and culture and being willing to apologize and clarify go a long way to turn a disagreement into deeper respect and knowledge.
- Mindfulness. Many of us live “on the outside” –not taking time to reflect on the meaning and impact of our words and actions. You may need to take more time to reflect on the true meaning of what you are saying and doing, beyond what your logical mind is thinking. You may want to track down your most common words, labels, interpretations and responses to see if you have treated others carelessly, insensitively or casually. In the example above, you may discover that while you are attached to concepts of humility that may be keeping you stuck; your language is judgmental and humiliating towards others. While you may not like this too much, realizing it is a blessing in your personal development and spiritual growth.
- Shadow Dances. It takes two to tango. If you find yourself surrounded by drama queens, bullies, crusaders, perfectionists, victims or other such roles with the stereotypical responses they demand, look at your steps in the dance. Examining your consistent social interaction patterns will reveal the underlying forces driving your life. Look at the type of interactions, friends or partners you choose. Observe the type of situations you find yourself in. There may be repeating “dance” patterns that keep old dynamics from your childhood going on in your adult life. This is especially true if you keep getting certain types of defensive reactions from different people or in different scenarios.
It is always good to “look into the mirrors” presented by other people’s reactions to you. These mirrors may be showing you what you are creating around you. They may also be revealing your blind spots or areas where you need to become more mindful and loving. Finally, these mirrors may help you to track old relationships dances that are toxic, limiting or destructive to your wellbeing.
You willingness to look within is your tool for growth as a person and your path to change your steps, and therefore your dance with others in your life.
In Article 3, “Heart-to-heart or Toxic Encounter?” you will find out if you are in a toxic encounter and what to do.
In our fourth and final article, Is it Love or Attachment?, you will find out what attachment is and how to free yourself from the shackles that keep you tied to dysfunctional relationships so that you can love in freedom and joy.
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