When the going gets tough …

Relationships are the building blocks of life. Our lives are the stories of these relationships.

Given their importance, why don’t we take better care of them ? When we have a toothache, we go to the dentist ; a backache sends us running off to the physical therapist. But when tensions build in our relationships, we often try to ignore them, hoping they will just go away.

Oftentimes, we start ruminating about the situation, fomenting even more hostility within ourselves. We may be hurt but ashamed to admit it. We bundle it all up inside.

Indeed, it is difficult to bring up certain subjects when our emotional levels are running high. We may be afraid of being hurt more or inflicting hurt on someone we otherwise deeply care about.

Taking care of our relationships involves being able to bring up and discuss difficult subjects . Experts in non-violent communication offer some very useful advice :

First of all, take stock of where you are mentally, emotionally and physically. Your body can give you clues to the state of your emotional self, particularly if you’re not used to being in touch with your emotions. Are there tensions lodged in your body ? Are you avoiding looking the other person in the eyes ? Are you hunched over ? Clutching yourself?  These are some of the body’s ways of expressing unpleasant emotional states. Getting in touch with them is just as crucial as experiencing enjoyable feelings. They are tools for helping us understand our experiences.

What is my inner dialogue ? What is the scenario that I am writing in my head ? Am I condemning my partner for taking time and space for him/herself that I am desparately craving for ? Am I tired and frustrated because all my efforts go unrecognized ?

Finally, can I identify my own needs and express them calmly and clearly?

Once you’ve done this self-assessment, you’re undoubtably in a better state to take on that difficult discussion.

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