For many individuals, the ability to verbally communicate something they find upsetting can be challenging, especially when emotions get in the way. Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a natural instinctive state of mind that results from one's mood, circumstances or relationships with others, emotions may lead to an inability to calmly, rationally and effectively communicate. Understanding why your emotions may be blocking you from effective communication is often the first step towards improving relationships. Below are a few common reasons individuals may experience difficulty in verbally communicating their thoughts...
1) Your “Guard” Is Up – for individuals who have experienced hurt, it is common for him/her to want to protect their sense of vulnerability. Having a protective layer a.k.a a "guard" may help do just that. Whether the "guard" comes in the form of an attitude or an approach towards dealing with others, the main goal is for it to shield the person from emotional pain. Therefore, instead of verbally communicating and exposing one's thoughts and feelings, an individual may instead express his/her discontent by engaging in a negative interaction. Understanding whether or not you are trying to protect yourself and knowing why you are doing so can help you identify what can trigger your negative reaction and what you can do to improve your communication style.
2) You've Only Learned One Way to Communicate – it’s not uncommon to come across individuals who believe the only way they can get their point across is by being negative. For example, some individuals will speak in a harsh tone, use demeaning language or even scream, believing that is the only way they will be "heard." For others, the thought of expressing their feelings is something they will not engage in for a variety of reasons, including if their cultural upbringing views it as being disrespectful Education and reassurance about the various ways thoughts and feelings can be communicated in a respectful manner can help to address this issue.
3) You are Being Ignored or Disregarded – there is no doubt that upon learning how to communicate effectively, one's emotions can still get the better of the situation especially if he/she feels their concerns are not being validated or addressed. Being ignored, belittled, or disregarded is something that can send almost anyone into a world of frustration. So, what should someone do in this situation? Figure out a way NOT to explode. Whether you take a break from the conversation, count to ten or express your belief of being disregarded - you essentially want to do something that will prevent your negative reactions from surfacing. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Overall, most people will come across a situation where they have to communicate the frustration they are experiencing because of another person. The ability to communicate effectively relies on various factors but knowing who you are, how you function and what triggers your negative reactions can greatly help you better control your emotions so they don't take over.
What techniques do you find helpful in controlling your emotions? Please share them below.
Within my therapeutic practice, I often work with individuals who experience anxiety related to problems they are having in their relationship. While some individuals will question whether they should do anything different, others are unsure if they should put in any more effort. In order to help them with their uncertainty, I often encourage them to work on some of the key components I believe are important to having a healthy relationship.
Communication - Being able to openly and honestly talk with your partner about what is bothering you about the relationship is vital. Without this, you may find yourself not voicing your opinion about what bothers you, which can result in your partner believing everything is fine. The problem with one person believing everything is fine is they will continue engaging in the behavior you may find troublesome thereby increasing the chances of feeling resentment or irritation with your partner. Whether you are worried about your future, your sex life, your differences, etc., it is important to bring up any issues you have so that you can both work on improving the situation and resolving the problem.
Respect - Having to communicate your feelings about what may be a sensitive issue for you or your partner can be hard to do, especially if one person is hot-tempered and/or very emotional. As a result, it is important to remember to be respectful. Essentially, you want to avoid saying or doing things that you know will upset your significant other. For instance, if your loved one despises when you walk away from an argument, then don't. Or, if he/she hates when you scream then try to speak in a low, calm tone. Showing respect can also be done by refraining from accusatory statements that place all the blame on your partner as it will only cause him/her to become defensive.
Being in a committed relationship, especially when the honeymoon phase is over, is without a doubt challenging. While I realize the aforementioned suggestions are "easier said than done", it is crucial to understand that with patience and understanding a lot more can be accomplished as opposed to having anger and resentment.
Do you believe there are other important components to a successful/healthy relationship? If so, please share them below. .
Christine M. Valentín
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