What is the one major common denominator I notice that inhibits a healthy approach to conflict?
Humans. Yes – you.
Confronting, right? Rarely do we have the headspace to point the finger at ourselves when it comes to arguments with our partners.
Whilst I am sure you are wonderfully unique, kind and fabulous like me, our human nature includes an inherent self-serving bias to get our own way. It also inhibits our ability to consider another person’s reasonable or wild and ridiculously different perspective to our own. Yes, that’s right, our spouse is allowed to disagree with us.
Firstly, time for some self-examination. This requires checking your self-worth, self-assurance, and self-determination. How is your self-image? Do you have high self-esteem? Is there a healthy level of self-love?
Why all the self-reflection?
Because therein lies your ability to bravely delve into the criticism of others, particularly your “chosen one”. Yes, the one you decided to pair up with for the long-term for richer or poorer.
When you doubt yourself, find it hard to love yourself or even loathe yourself, self-defensiveness will dominate and disable your ability to (here’s the big one…) seek further information about any constructive feedback, criticism or (here’s the bigger one…) a completely different opinion than yours!
The greatest goal for a relationship counsellor is to coach couples in the fine art of delivering feedback in a non-blaming way for it to be received that way. This is super tricky when my clients don’t even like themselves, let alone each other.
When your self-esteem is so low and you are feeling so down on yourself, you are extremely sensitive to criticism or feedback of any time, of any type. It is difficult for you to lean in and ask questions to clarify what your partner is trying to tell you. Whilst you can blame your partner for denigrating any sense of confidence, the responsibility lies with you knowing what you deserve.
Self-criticism fosters self-defence and self-justification. These are not ingredients to support a healthy approach to conflict. The basic framework is:
Who on earth would want to know more about how you are going about things the wrong way? Not me either, however it is worth it because that is what living with other humans is all about.
It is a tough phase in the year when we are all feeling a little worn down by the recent few years. Despite seeing the flags marking the finish line for the end of the year, many are “flagging”!
What to do?
Self-worth: I urge and encourage you to nurture you. Carve out time for self-compassion every day. Just a moment of peace, of relaxation or exercise or all of that! Whatever gives your soul some respite for you to bravely surge forward, particularly during the differences with your partner so you can respectfully turn toward them in the face of adversity to learn and grow together .
1. What are two activities you can engage or re-engage in just for you this week? (If you have children, what level of self-love to they deserve being mentored by?)
Self-control for self-regulation: Anticipate that your emotions will be triggered during conflict.
2. What two strategies can you plan that you will employ when you notice your heartbeat rise during your next conflict that helps you pause and respond versus react in ways you will regret? Is it meditation, breathing, skipping, nurturing self-talk?
Any improvements about the self, require self-determination so get to it!
Joanne Wilson is the Relationship Rejuvenator and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99). She is a neuropsychotherapist inspiring the community for thriving and dynamic relationships that impact generations for mental well-being. Find out more on her online courses at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised. Approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focussed Therapy and Emotionally Focussed Therapy may be incorporated.
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples online around the world and servicing areas for face to face sessions including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.