Communication is just about as challenging as ever with the advancements of technology. Sending emails, text messages, and personal messages leave us to interpret how things are being said. The problem with this is that our own perception and frame of mind have a huge influence on the words we read and hear. Even if someone is looking straight at you, sometimes the words that they say are not interpreted as the sender meant.
What we carry in our bag of memories, will influence our responses. That is why letting go of what does not serve you well is such a huge part of healing. I let go of all that does not serve me well. I forgive myself and others. What benefit is it to me to hold on to this? Yet, there is more to it than just letting go. Sometimes, we need our feelings validated. Maybe we need to validate our feelings. Maybe a trusted friend or the direct source needs to validate our feelings. That does not mean they agree, but they understand how you felt. Take note though, you’re happiness should not depend on someone validating your feelings or offering forgiveness or an apology. That is an act of giving away your power to self-heal and self-love. No one gets the power to make you happy or sad. They are your emotions. No one is responsible for how you feel, so no apologies are really necessary because it is always in your control to choose how to feel.
That being said, validation can be helpful in healing wounds. I quote John Gottman in saying “Painful feelings that are expressed, acknowledged, and validated by a trusted listener will diminish. Painful feelings that are ignored will gain strength.”
My girlfriends and I validate each other all the time without even thinking about it. I may not always agree with them, but I acknowledge their feelings and then add my two sense if they want it. They don’t get mad at me because they know I’m acting in love. This is not always the case when you are communicating with someone that you have a bag of unpleasant memories with that haven’t been validated and kept being stuffed down deeper in that bag of resentment. The next thing you know, nothing can be said that won’t make you or the other person mad. Then this spreads to other people and events around them because the past has now become the everyday present. Post-traumatic stress disorder feeds off of unresolved fears, hurts, and angers. You’re responses become reactions and are over the top. Hopelessness sets in, fears increase, and you respond with one of John Gottman’s Four Horsemen: Criticism, Defense, Contempt, and Stonewalling.
John Gottman says these Four Horseman will destroy a relationship. Over the next four weeks, we are going to delve deeper into understanding the four horsemen, becoming aware of these reactions in our life, and shifting to a better way of communicating. I am not trained in John Gottman’s techniques. I’m just living them as I work to understand and improve myself and my relationships. So, I am giving you first-hand experience as I learn and transform with you.
Our first horseman is Defensiveness which according to John Gottman is victimizing yourself to ward off a perceived attack and reverse the blame. An example of this is when someone brings something to your attention that you did and immediately you want to justify yourself, aka defend your point of view.
Friend A says, “You were so rude to me the other day. I felt really hurt and ignored when you left our conversation without even saying goodbye.”
Friend B says, “My kids were screaming in the background and Johnny was hitting his sister. I had to go before my kids hurt each other.”
Now, this seems like a justifiable argument, but that is exactly what it is, an argument.
Friend A says, “I felt really hurt and neglected yesterday when you had to hang up without even saying goodbye. I was having a really rough day and I needed you.”
Friend B says, “I can understand why you would feel that way. I will do my best not to do that again. Please know that I do love and care about you.”
This scenario offers validation for Friend A’s feelings and does not start a fight. Friend B never said that she agrees with Friend A and she may have something more to say, but timing is everything. At that moment, it was best for Friend B not to take on the defensive side. In the next conversation or later on in that conversation she may take the opportunity to talk about how her kids have been fighting so much and she is really concerned they will hurt each other. So if she does have to end a conversation quickly, she apologizes ahead of time.
One of the A Course of Miracles lessons states,
“In my defenselessness lies my safety.” Put down your weapons, trust and live in God’s love.
Voyage to HEAL Weekly Tasks
Stretch: Psoas release. Nowhere else in the body holds more emotional baggage than the psoas. Pull out that releaser ball, place it in the lower right or left quadrant of your abdominal area, lean over a table, lay on the bed or the floor and feel the release of the psoas. If this is too painful, lay on your back and place the releaser ball in the same area with a gentle pressure down on the ball.
Exercise: Strengthen the psoas by strengthening the core. Activate the core and sit against the wall. Hold this for 20-60 seconds a few times a day. You can use a door frame if there is not an area of your wall available.
Habitual Change: Sit up straight, but let your back be soft and make sure not to hollow out/overly extend your back.
Perspective Enlightenment: Bring up the past, validate your feelings or share them with a friend to have them validated. Then, let go of your defenses. Remember that in your defenselessness lies your safety. Don’t start an argument. Mend a wound instead.
This week’s blog post coincides with week 2 and 3 of the Voyage to HEAL focusing on I am safe and I let go.
Godspeed on your Voyage to HEAL