Honesty allows relationships to go to a deeper level
In order to have a relationship that goes beyond the superficial, there has to be some level of honesty. In fact, sometimes honesty is what keeps a relationship going. Whatever the relationship, be it with a parent, child, partner, colleague or friend, the principles are the same. Sometimes we really need to let another person know what’s going on inside us.
It’s not an easy thing in our culture. Let’s face it: we’re masters at making it look good on the outside, even when we’re falling apart on the inside. Hiding what we really feel leaves us feeling alone and isolated. There comes a time when feeling needs to be expressed, and because we’re not used to it, sometimes it goes wrong. Then things get worse.
So we decide to bury our feelings even deeper. Now we feel even more alone, certain that no one, especially our loved ones, really cares how we feel.
What is the way out of this dilemma? When we feel hurt, our first instinct is to protect ourselves. We do this either by building a protective wall or by attacking. Neither approach gives us what we want and need. Ironically, if we really show our vulnerability, only the most hardened individuals would exclude us. If we build a wall and retreat inside, we exclude others. They interpret this as rejection or abandonment, feel hurt, and then themselves choose to retreat or attack. Things started to get worse.
If, on the other hand, we choose to attack initially, we equally provoke one of these two responses.
Obviously, we need an option that would get us out of this cycle. There exists a. This requires expanding our view of the situation to encompass the other person’s feelings and perceptions. It requires that we take a problem-solving approach, rather than simply trying to defend our own position. He asks that we truly care about the other person as much as we care about ourselves. It further requires that we don’t judge the other person as wrong for trying to meet their needs.
It can be helpful to imagine that the problem in question is between two other people (not “me” and “you”) and think about how we would approach the problem if we had been called upon to mediate. If we approach another person with a caring attitude and an expressed desire to understand their point of view, they are more likely to open up. Only then can meaningful communication take place. If both people use this approach, the relationship and the individuals are transformed. When most of us do this, our world will be transformed.
Gwen Randall-Young is an award-winning author and psychologist. For permission to reproduce this article or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.