Broken Relationships

This is a post on broken relationships between two individuals; it does not matter if the individuals are married, significant others, or friends. It is not my intention here to “save” a relationship that has run its course but rather to guide ones to creating a positive outcome whether that results in a new and more committed relationship where couples stay together or a positive relationship between the two individuals who are choosing to move on.

During my 18 years of working with families in trouble I often encountered couples in conflict with each other. Sometimes this conflict has ended in divorce. The impact of this conflict and the severing of the relationship can be devastating to the children and the family as a whole. Most of the time the fear, anger and pain is the focus; each side positioning themselves in a right/wrong battle that poisons the entire family.

Most do not realize that even though a relationship has ended, you will always be in a relationship. Of course the dynamics of the relationship will change but everyone has a choice about how that relationship will be experienced:

  • Will you create a harmonious relationship in spite of the fact that you no longer are together?
  • Or will you continue the relationship in pain and disharmony?

What Do You Want to Experience?

There is always free will choice in everything. Even though one is experiencing pain a choice can be made to experience peace and even joy that can grow out of that pain. It is a simple matter of choosing to create the experience you want. I also know that such a choice is not necessarily easy but it can, with commitment and work, be accomplished. This teaching is to assist those who wish to experience the positive in their lives, no matter how much pain there has existed.

To experience something new one must first let go of the old. It is about forgiveness. It is about moving on. I have written in prior blogs about this process so I will not go into detail again (you can read about it on those posts).

Letting Go Through Forgiveness

Forgiveness is always critical to healing. Whether you are forgiving another or forgiving yourself it is important to understand forgiveness. Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the forgiven. One can forgive another without the other person even knowing about that act. Remember this: forgiveness is not about excusing another’s actions for to do that you take away their responsibility to learn from their choices. It is, however, about acknowledging that person as a human being who, through whatever issues and pain they live with, chose to harm another. Will you choose to continue holding the other with anger and pain – if so, you carry that other as a burden. One can lift their burdens through forgiveness and enable themselves to move on to living a joyful life. Now, it is also to understand that unless one forgives themself first, forgiving another often will not work.

If you are holding judgment, anger and pain against someone with whom you are in a relationship are you willing to let those negative emotions go and forgive them? If not, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to create a positive relationship. Are you willing to let respect between you reenter your relationship – even if the other does not? Are you willing to let go of the right/wrong syndrome?

Right Versus Wrong

The Right/Wrong syndrome is often where individuals go when conflict arises. It comes about as a result of wanting to defend ourselves from the pain that feeling ‘wrong’ releases within us. It is always an old pain, often first experienced as a child, that is at the core of our fear of feeling wrong and it is a pain that is rarely even consciously acknowledged. We hold our issues and our defenses in our subconscious mind (sometimes referred to as ‘unconscious mind’). So even if we consciously acknowledge that we no longer want to play the right/wrong game, until one heals old issues the automatic unconscious defense mechanism of arguing for us being ‘right’ will surface. Heal the issue first, and then there will be nothing to defend.

Unfortunately, most will say they want to heal but few are willing to do the work required to heal. Healing does not require that one re-experiences the pain that is connected to our deeply seated issues and limiting beliefs, but one must be willing to examine them in order to understand exactly how one has allowed them to operate within our unconscious mind – how one has allowed them to become the “buttons” that others can push. Healing requires commitment and effort.

Communication

What is the purpose of communication? Effective communication always is about an exchange of ideas or points-of-view. It is more about listening than speaking. It is as much about hearing what another has to say as it is about saying what you want to say. In other words, it is about being respectful.

Ineffective communication is about at least one party needing to be right. Back to the old Right/Wrong Syndrome referenced above. Of course there are situations where facts are facts and some will want to ignore those facts. Truth is truth and one should always come from wanting truth to be revealed. Everyone has experienced having a different perspective about the same event. In such cases which perspective is the truth? What the actual truth is can be elusive so it is critical in effective communication that both sides seek the truth through respect.

Three Guidelines For Effective Communication

1. First express your feelings accountably

Tell the other person how you are FEELING. But do so accountably – own your feelings. As an example: “Whenever we argue like this I feel a lot of anger and I also feel like running away because it hurts so much.”

An example of expressing that same feeling but by being a victim would be: “Every time you argue like this you really piss me off. I am just leaving!”

All feelings are natural and need to be expressed. But if you express them as if it is the other person’s fault for you having those feelings not only do you create continued conflict but you disempower yourself as well.

2. Take responsibility for the whole communication

When I ask people what percentage of a two-sided communication each is responsible for, the common answer is 50% – 50%. My position is that effective communication automatically happens when each person takes full (100%) responsibility for the communication. This means that I am accountable not only for what I say, but also to insure that what I say is actually heard by the other person in the way that matches my intention. If someone is not listening to me or is hearing something different or is mindlessly just nodding their head in order to get the conversation over, then it is up to me to change how I am communicating so that they hear me. That may mean suspending the conversation until a time when emotions are not clouding the communication. (In such a situation clearly state, with respect, that you want to wait until things cool down because what they say and feel is important to you and what you say is also important.) It also may mean that you can use different words or phrases. Or it may mean that you stop using the language of “Right vs. Wrong.”

3. Establish ground rules

When there is conflict going on, especially if there is ongoing conflict, then it is easy for communication to breakdown into anger, blame, and right/wrong. This will not lead to a solution but rather to a spiraling downward of the communication and the relationship. So, if you want to achieve something positive out of the communication establish some simple ground rules (do this while you are both calm and not in conflict). They can be anything you like and which you agree to. I suggest something simple like the following:

  • Do not discuss anything while one or both of you are at the peak of anger. Remember always this admonition “Being angry at someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Walk away from the discussion until you can be civil and respectful. If you establish this ground rule first and the other person chooses to walk away, then remember that they are probably just following the rule.
  • Do not interrupt the other. Wait until they are complete.
  • Do not hoard the conversation. Remember this is not about being right; it is about both sides being heard. When you have said your say, let the other respond.
  • Remember to use the “fy sisters” – clarify and verify. Ask the other if what you stated was clear and understandable (remember respectfully). If the other person makes a statement, repeat to them what you heard and ask them to verify that. Again, this is all about respect.
  • If the issue is not resolved then agree to think about it and set a time when you can discuss it again. If there is no resolution after several attempts, either agree to disagree or get a neutral third-party to help.

These are merely suggestions. Use them, don’t use them, make up your own.

If You Decide to End the Relationship

Sometimes people come to the end of a relationship. This is not necessarily good, bad, right or wrong but it certainly can be a painful time and ones can choose to carry that pain for the rest of their lives. Or you can both take responsibility and choose to redesign or reframe the relationship so that you both can move on with peace and support. Even if both do not choose to do this, even one can do it and create a benefit. If you always take the position of “I will if he/she will,” you are doomed for you still give the other person the power to push your buttons. Take personal responsibility for your own life and how you experience your own life.

This is especially true if you have children. Both parents need to understand that you are teaching your children how to be in a relationship. If you are constantly being a victim of the other, or angry at the other, or mean and abusive to the other, you are teaching your children that it is the ‘way to be in a relationship.’ You can tell them that they should not behave that way or be disrespectful towards another, but if you, yourself, act that way and believe that way, your children will also learn this. And, they will in turn act that way and believe that way in their own relationships. You BOTH are responsible for what you teach your children. Choose to come together in respect and set that example for them to learn.

Finally, remember that you have come together for a purpose and perhaps one purpose is for you to heal old issues (this is normally true for all relationships.) If you choose to leave a relationship without first healing the issue, be assured that the issue will reappear in your next relationship and will keep reappearing until you heal the issue. Simply stated: “Heal the issues before you leave or they will visit you again and again until you do.”

Remember this: you can either choose to live in joy and harmony or to live in anger and pain. It is always up to you.

Comments

  1. alan drobnak says:

    Hi Bill,
    I saw a few points for myself concerning a past life healing Jonah has suggested I take care of. I’m also forwarding this article to a niece and her husband who are doing very well in their 3rd year of marriage, they just recently had a baby girl.
    My niece though had a very emotionally abusive father and even to this day after being divorced from my sister for 12 years attempts to still argue and bully his ex-wife and two daughters. He simply refuses to move on. The three of them ar constantly being cajoled into arguements by his meddleing in their lives. Control over them and all aspects of money are just the tip of his cronic issues. I do share material with two of the three women from time to time in concern for their healing. The younger daughter is weaker and her father knows which buttons to push for her sympathy . She has refuffed any input from me. I’m sure her dad has much to say about me also. She is on her own path and I respect who she is.
    Thanks again and see you at the Intensive.

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