When I’m having a conversation with somebody, there is one significant thing that gets in the way if I’m not careful. Because I experience life looking from the inside out, I am aware of everything that I think, everything that I feel and everything that I see.
I am a product of my environment which consists of the family I grew up in, everything that’s happened to me in life, and what sense I made of that as far as creating my belief systems. I also have some emotional triggers that exist because of things that previously happened in my life. These emotional triggers are what we refer to as the buttons that people press that set us off.
Now, because I have experienced myself all my life, I tend to regard how I function, how I think, and how I see things as normal. When exposed to something over a long period, we naturally believe that it’s normal. The problem happens that while I think that I am normal, I also associated another word with that. The word that I associate with it is the word “right”. I am normal, and I am right. This tendency to believe that if we are normal, we are also right, is taken to the extreme with those who claim to be normal and “morally right” and then push their morals and values onto others.
So in a conversation, a problem can occur when I am interacting with somebody and putting across how I feel and what I think about the topic. If I consider that I am normal, I will tend to try to shut down people who disagree with me because if I’m normal and right, then the other person is abnormal and wrong. And so, I will tend to try to convince them by making lots of statements, and probably increasing the volume with which I am speaking to get the point across.
If I’m in that state of mind, then there are several things that I am not doing. What I am not doing is listening, trying to understand by asking the other person questions, or being open to a different point of view about something. In a relationship, this type of interaction has quite devastating consequences.
The key word in relationships is understanding. I firstly need to understand myself as a person in terms of how I think, what drives me and what are my passions. I then need to understand my partner in the same way. Armed with the understanding or myself and my partner the question that I need to answer is “how if we have these differences do, we function as a couple?” As tricky as that question seems, there is an answer. It is one of the most common issues that I need to deal with when I’m working with couples.
Believing that we are normal and therefore right is a common tendency amongst human beings for the reasons that I gave earlier in this article. I can suffer from it myself if I am not mindful of my tendency to do this. The best way that I find to stay mindful of this tendency is to say to myself, “I’m not normal, but rather I am abnormal”. If I come from this angle, I realise that I need to take the time to understand people that I interact with, because they’re not going to be like me.
The Art of Painless Communication is an ebook I wrote to help couples and individuals to dramatically decrease the likelihood of ending up in an argument when communicating. Learn how to share information in a way that promotes understanding and reduces conflict. Get your copy here.
© Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2019