Archive for the 'Communication' Category

Communication habits and family dynamics

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 24th, 2014

MiscommunicationAhh the holidays are all about getting together with family. A wonderful time of cherished traditions and time with our loved ones. And for some of us, family time can come with a downside.

I don’t know if this has happened to you, but do you have certain family members that just push your buttons?

During the holiday season, we spend more time with family and because of our history with each other, sometimes we get our buttons pushed (and sometimes we do some button pushing too).

I had a family member that I couldn’t seem to get along with. It didn’t seem to matter what he said or what I said, we would both jump into an argument over even the littlest of things.

And then one day I had a breakthrough. I stepped back and looked at how we were operating.

I saw that I had been seeing him as “full of himself,” and so I felt it my duty to contradict what he would say and take him down a peg. And then I saw his side and in his mind, he needed to be right or that would mean that he was a bad person and he just couldn’t face that. So for him, arguing and being right was a protection.

When he would say something, it went through my filter of, “here we go again, he’s always right” and I would snark back which triggered his buttons of belittlement and needing to be right and around we would go in a power struggle.

We weren’t having discussions, we were full out arguing. And neither side was being heard. Even a few times we resorted to personal attacks and so we both took offense and so we would carry that baggage into the next argument.

And we were both right in our own minds. And we were both stubbornly justified.

But that one day, while I was sweeping the floor, it just changed, like a light bulb turned on over my head and I saw him in a different light.

I saw him in the light of his struggle and contribution and I could appreciate him for who he was. Once I saw him differently, our whole dynamic changed, something just switched. I stopped taking offense and snipping back and I stopped being critical and held my tongue.

Over a few meetings the past animosities seemed to fade. He later told me, “you’re different, it’s like you’re not out to get me anymore.”

I still noticed snippy things to say, but as I let go of the need to make him see that he was wrong, I could just sit back and let him think and say what he would without needing to correct him. He could have his opinion and I could have mine.

And I started to find ways to express my opinions that weren’t antagonistic.

The power struggles ended and we haven’t fought in years.

If we look at what is triggering us in our family relationships, we can learn more about ourselves and how we are operating. When we examine our own mindset and look for our own part, we can take responsibility and be empowered to make a change.

With our family relationships it’s easy to get stuck in patterns and habits of communication and how we treat each other. We may have played certain roles in the past, the rescuer, the leader, the caretaker, the pleaser etc and sometimes we don’t give the people in our lives the chance to change roles.

And when we change, we invite others to change as well.

Recognize that they are doing the best with what they know.

Many people are stuck in their own minds, stuck in being right, stuck in being seen a certain way or stuck in playing a role. If they have patterns that push your buttons, it’s quite likely they don’t even know it and they are just operating out of their mental programs.

And when you feel triggered, what is that telling you? Usually it indicates a bad mental program that you’ve bought into at some level of awareness.

Looking at your family relationships this holiday season, what are your patterns and what are you thinking in the back of your mind with family members? What frame of mind might you need to shift?

It’s easy when we get together with family to assume that we know who they are and to be critical of their patterns. Just remember that at the core of it, underneath it all, we are all simply trying to do the best with what we know.

Wishing you all a happy healthy holiday season. May you let go of old regrets, old hurts and judgments and rekindle the goodness of your connections with your loved ones.

Leave your comments and experiences below of how a relationship changed for the better for you.