The changes we are globally experiencing have effectively altered the way we relate to each other, highlighting the importance of human connection and bringing to surface issues such as loneliness and poor communication.
Before the world took a turn from fast-paced life to ‘the new normal’ time advocated to think, analyse and improve human dynamic and communication within our own households was limited and more often than not conflicts were swept under the carpet, covered under the guise of work commitments, pub/club outings or blamed on lack of time, but once COVID-19 pushed the world to a halt, the cracks within relationships started to show, forcing families and couples to face unresolved conflicts and expectations. Feeling invisible to partners, misunderstood by family and even dramatic differences in core values became no longer possible to ignore once the normal avoidance routes were cut out, in some cases forcing resolutions born out of desperation and anger, but isolation also brough positive aspects including a greater sense of appreciation for things we used to take for granted like going out for a coffee with a friend, a movie with the family, people in our lives we were too busy to visit; it opened channels for heart-to-heart conversations and helped us to dive into our shadows.
Once work and private life started sharing the same physical space, personal issues sipped into this new, unmarked territory and it was no longer possible to ignore problems in relationships dynamics. This scenario also brought us the opportunity to correct the script and make adjustments to the stories we were telling ourselves, a nudge in the right direction to sort conflicts that for some felt more like a push because when the process is in motion and gathering momentum, getting in the way means getting trampled by it; the safest option is to go with it, slowly but surely, and get out of your own way.
Building sound foundations for better communication and enriched relationships with family and/or partners is paramount for healthy living and our growth as conscious human beings. Here are five tips to implement a safe, non-judgemental space to express feelings and concerns compassionately.
1. Find a space/time free of interruptions. Make sure that your physical space is decluttered, this will help to declutter your thoughts. Agree beforehand to respect turns to speak without interruptions.
2. Avoid blaming. Take responsibility for your actions and speak from your point of view, not projecting your thoughts in the other and avoid false expectations. Think in the effect your words will have before you speak.
3. Listen with an open heart. We normally deflect responsibility and blame others for our emotions; stay calm, breathe, listen and resist the temptation to antagonize or correct the other.
4. Recognise unhealthy patterns. Unhealthy relationships are detrimental to the sense of self and stop us from moving forward in life. Ignoring damaging patterns will not make them disappear, and it might only delay your own healing.
5. Appreciate the opportunity to grow, avoid judgements, and reflect in the actions to take with a sense of compassion. This will close the conversation on a high note and will leave a fertile, safe ground to continue developing assertive communication.
Be patience with yourself and others, changes take time. Plan realistically achievable steps to build a safe communication bubble and ideally put aside 1 hour daily for a heart-to-heart, if this is not possible, agree on a time during the weekend and prepare a loving, cozy environment to honour your talk. Avoid the temptation to solve a lifetime of mental programming in one long, tiresome conversation. Finally, remember to take one small action after every conversation. One step at the time, small steps will take you far.
Sandra Codd. NLP Life coach.
The Art of compassionate resilience.