Do you sometimes feel misunderstood by your partner?
Do you want to be seen and loved as you are?
So let me ask you a provocative question: do you really show yourselve as you are?
If we want real connection, we must allow ourselves to be really seen.
– Brené Brown
And have the courage to show ourselves fully and go all in.
To do this, we must first be aware of what is going on inside us – and then dare to express it. This is easy with good feelings, difficulties start, when we do not feell well. The feeling itself is uncomfortable – and now, weakened as we feel, we are supposed to show ourselves vulnerable? No way!
So we tend to lean into strategies which may look as if we tell about ourselves. But in fact, if we take a closer look, they help us distracting from our own discomfort. They are attractive, because they make us feel better in the short term. However, in the long term they emotionally separate us more and more.
One of these strategies is to objectify our feelings and communication. Instead of “I am unsure what this means” we say something like “the situation leaves many questions open”. I had halo moment the other day when I wanted to tell someone in a message how I am feeling. A friend read what I had written and said: “That sounds like a business letter. Why don’t you really write about what’s going on inside you – the way you feel, not so formal. Get naked!” First I didn’t get it at all. But when I read the message again, I suddenly realised what she was trying to tell me. The sentences were well thought out. Controlled language to the last word.
And when I started to rephrase, I felt the increasing discomfort. Interesting moment – and very valuable, because I became aware not only of what I was feeling – but also of what I was afraid of.
Another strategy is to wrap up our bad feeling in an accusation against the other. It is easier to blame the other person than to appear vulnerable. Not saying anything and expecting that the other person has to feel how you feel is also belongs to this strategy. Instead of “I miss that you ask questions” we say something like “I wish you would show more interest in me”. Without asking the other person, we have interpreted the lack of questions as disinterest. So it’s not surprising if our partner reacts defensively rather than empathically.
That it is not easy for us to open up is normal and can have different reasons:
- The level of trust we have built up with our childhood caregivers
- Our general level of trust and confidence in life
- Our mindset towards other people
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of being hurt
- Past experiences
But it’s our choice whether we use these reasons as justifications to leave everything as it is or whether we dare to take the step into the unknown and learn.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. -Henry Ford
If you are looking for more clarity, bonding and empathy in your relationships, then it is worth taking a closer look at these three aspects:
- Emotional self-consciousness (clarity): Are you aware of what you feel? What you miss? Can you name it? Can you accept it?
- Courage to take risks: Do you have the courage to talk about it? And if so …
- Speak about yourself: How do you express it? Are you talking about yourself or are you falling into one of the strategies?
It’s true, opening up, “getting emotionally naked”, makes you afraid, makes you vulnerable, is a risk. But having the courage to do so also sends a singal of trust to your partner.
And it is this trust that creates real closeness and a real, deep connection.
I think it’s worth it.
Have a courageous week.