“We just need help with communication problems”
…said every person who stepped into couple’s therapy ever.
People ask for tools, tips and tricks.
I haven’t heard this one yet but I’m sensing someone will soon ask me for a “communication hack.”
Here’s a little secret:
The solution you’re looking for isn’t about learning how to communicate.
It’s about learning how to connect.
Of course, communication is a part of it, but not in the way you might suspect.
In the spirit of tips and tricks, today I’ve got just the tool for you.
This tool works like knife.
And it slices your communication problems apart.
The tool I am speaking of is a process referred to in Emotionally Focused Therapy as “slicing it thinner.”
Emotionally Focused Therapy helps couples get really clear on what their primary emotional experience is, and then helps them share that with each other.
That’s how we strengthen connection.
This sounds simple, but as I’m sure you realize, emotions are a bit tricky.
Simple doesn’t mean easy.
Your emotions can get murky. Loaded with baggage. Mixed. Confusing. Overwhelming.
They can repel people from each other just as much as they might magnetize them toward each other.
Communication problems are the result of negative emotions trapped in a pattern of rigid and constrictive interactions.
You know the kind:
You go around and around in the same circles and can’t seem to get out.
You’re feeling alone and millions of miles away from your partner even when they’re in the same room.
These times offer the perfect opportunity to get out your knife:
Slice your experience thinner.
As your spinning in circles with your partner going nowhere, get off for a moment.
Take a breath.
Ask yourself – what is really going on with me here? What am I really feeling?
Put some distance between you and the difficult cycle you’re caught in with your partner and check in honestly with yourself.
Are you scared?
Do you feel unimportant?
Slow down time for a moment and check in with yourself about what’s REALLY going on.
Listen in the silence to yourself.
You may be surprised with what you hear.
Typically circular arguments are never about what you might believe – the laundry, the dishes, who took care of the dogs…
But they’re about feeling unimportant, like you’re not a priority, like you don’t really matter that much to your partner.
When you slow down time and slice your experience thinner, you may find yourself up against some of these issues.
In the space of the thinner slice, when you allow yourself to really care, to really want to matter, to really need to be needed…
To allow your partner to matter so much to you that they know how much it means to you that you matter to them too…
And you express THAT to your partner?
The game changes.
You hacked the communication.
And your chances for connection are better than ever.
Give it a whirl, let me know how it goes.
The cure is always in the connection.