Saturday, March 15, 2014

How to spin emotional straw into relationship gold

Often what drives a couple to separate is actually the same thing that could take their relationship to a new level of love and bonding.

When we fall in love we tell ourselves ‘this is the person to help me live happily ever after’ but really we would stand a greater chance of happiness, love and long-term success if we recognised that ‘this is the person I am going to hell and back with’!  Not because relationships are a living hell (although I admit, it can sometimes feel like it), but because relationships offer an amazing opportunity to heal anything in us that is the opposite of love. 

Emotional literacy - being able to identify emotions and communicate about them - is a vital skill for successful relationships in every area of life.  In simple terms:  when someone upsets us, we feel something.  We may not even understand what the feeling is but its not pleasant.  We may feel hurt, rejected, sad, inadequate (it can take time to identify the feeling as we have been well trained to avoid them).  If that feeling has an echo of a painful experience from our childhood, it will set of an emotional chain reaction.  We begin to feel the deeper emotion and, whilst we believe we are relating to an event in the present, our emotional age just got much younger.  We start to process the past event as well.  

If we numb ourselves to what is going on inside, we can't work through the emotions successfully.  We find it hard to communicate effectively and end up feeling even more misunderstood, compounding the feelings of hurt.  It is a downward spiral.

Your subconscious mind is the main driver in your relationships; it houses your childhood experiences, drives your behaviour and determines your level of emotional intelligence. Even if we vow we are going to do it differently from our parents, we don't realise that as we relax into the relationship the strategies we learned from childhood and early models of relationship start to run us.   'God you're just like your mother/father' can be a declaration of war in some relationships, so resistant are we to acknowledging the influence they have had on us.
We are trained to bury our emotions, but I see them as the emotional straw that can be turned into relationship gold.  When you are willing to do growth work in self-awareness and emotional maturity and learn to process emotions consciously, you can transform a devastating experience into a positive and loving outcome. 

It takes courage to be vulnerable in relationship, to reveal the places in you that feel inadequate, unworthy, fearful.  It may seem easier to believe the relationship can survive without you revealing this part of yourself, but learning to be open with yourself and others can enhance the connection and build greater intimacy, trust, love and create successful, sustainable relationships.

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