It’s not all black and white…

“When I’m right, I won’t back down”.

“If what she’s saying isn’t logical then I’ll tell her she’s wrong”.

“I’ll never change, that’s just the way I am”.

These are just some of the things that people have said to me during their Relationship Coaching sessions. And yet they wonder why the relationship is suffering!

If you find yourself saying any of these things about your relationship, or to your partner, and you also feel like the emotional connection isn’t there, it’s important to consider more closely the impact of these statements on your relationship, and where you might be going wrong.

Let’s take each statement in turn.

1)“When I’m right, I won’t back down”.

There may be a certain logic to this. After all, if you really believe you’re right, why would you want to back down?

But in an emotional situation, say, an argument with your partner, when you feel that you are “right”, what’s really happening is that you’re judging a situation from your own perspective. But what’s important to realise is that a perspective is a perspective – not an absolute truth. Your own perspective is shaped by all of your experiences and influences, often going back to early childhood. Your partner’s perspective is shaped by all of their experiences and influences. And because you have different experiences and influences, your perspectives will be different. As though you are looking through different coloured lenses. So really, although you may feel that you are right, so does your partner! So, who is right? Well, in many situations, you both are! And let’s think about this idea of “backing down”. What does it mean to you? Does it mean admitting you’re wrong? If it does, see above. Just the term “backing down” suggests a combative, rigid and defensive approach to conflict, rather than an open one. It’s far better to approach conflict by accepting you each have a different coloured lens, and rather than feeling defensive or trying to convince each other that your lens is the correct one, a much more fruitful use of your time and energy is being curious about what it’s like to look through your partner’s lens.

2) “If what she’s feeling isn’t logical then I’ll tell her she’s wrong”.

On the one hand, if you feel your partner is being irrational, it can be really frustrating and you might well be tempted to tell your partner that they are wrong to feel the way they do.

But this statement assumes that feelings are based on logic. The fact is, emotions are separate from logic. Emotions are just what they are. Thinking that you or your partner shouldn’t have certain emotions doesn’t make those emotions go away.  As part of Nature, we are programmed to feel certain emotions to protect us from danger. That’s why they can feel so strong. They don’t always make sense to us. But just because they don’t make sense doesn’t mean they are wrong. Yes, they might be inconvenient and cause frustration. But emotions just are. They are truths. It’s far better to ask your partner why they feel a certain way, and to acknowledge and validate those feelings, even if you don’t feel the same way.

3) “I’ll never change, that’s just the way I am”.

Sometimes we can hold rigid, black-and-white beliefs about ourselves for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps you were told when you were young that to change your view would be unreliable, or perhaps you’re invested in being a certain way because there’s a certain safety in things always being the same. Maybe the thought of changing perspective or behaviour feels too difficult. Maybe you’re worried about being taken advantage of. Fear can sometimes really hold us back.

Whatever your reasons, it’s really important to realise that in Nature, change is inevitable. The seasons change, a river changes course, day becomes night, everything moves. And guess what? As part of Nature, that means you change! You change physically at the very least. Of course, we can become blocked emotionally, and keep repeating the same old behaviours over and over again. When this happens you can feel tired, drained, un-motivated, frustrated. Stagnant like a river that’s stopped flowing. Dormant like a fossil. But as soon as you realise it’s a choice, you can then feel empowered to do something about it. The truth is, you will change when you want to change. And if change is what needs to happen in your relationship, whether or not you commit to those changes is dependent on how important your relationship is to you.

When you’re in a relationship – which is based on an emotional connection – usual logic, being right, black or white thinking, refusing to change, will just come across as stubbornness at best, and cost you your relationship at worst. Relationships between two individuals require empathy, understanding, flexibility, curiosity.

All of this is underpinned by compassionate communication and conflict resolution. If you and your partner struggle with any of these issues, then my Compassionate Conflict for Couples Course is for you! This highly popular e-course for couples gives you all the essential tools and techniques that you need to begin communicating more effectively, without arguing, blaming, or going into attack and defense mode! Not only will you learn to resolve conflict skilfully, you will grow closer as a result as you start to gain a new understanding of each other! Click on the link below for further information.

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Deepening your connection with Nature 🙂

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