We are hardwired for connection, love and companionship, and yet often our relationships can be a great source of stress.
From you intimate or work relationships, family or friendships, relationships can cause stress and frustration or anger and hurt. The blame game or passive aggressive behaviours can become a familiar position from where you or the other person operate from, often leaving you feeling stuck, powerless and communication breaking down.
I’m pretty sure that you’ve experienced times where you’ve been triggered by other people, you might have got annoyed, felt frustrated and wound up or convinced yourself that someone is just out to purposely wind you up! Perhaps there have been times when you’ve struggled to understand people’s behaviour, or maybe people have struggled to understand yours. And there will be times when you have judged people or made assumptions about someone’s behaviour only to later discover that you got it wrong!
So the thing is relationships can get messy!
In any interaction each individual is experiencing that interaction through their own unique model of the world. Each person has their own way of filtering and editing the world based on their past experiences, values and beliefs, expectations and state. All of which influence how they perceive, interpret and respond to what the other person is saying. I know it’s complicated right!
So imagine having relationships where you avoid the blame game, bad feeling, frustration and upset. Imagine being able to assertively communicate your needs without feeling misunderstood. Imagine what it would be like to have relationships based on mutual understanding and curiosity about the other person, rather than judgement and assumptions that potentially lead to misunderstanding and upset. Is this something you would like to experience?
The good news is that we DO want to have loving relationships where we feel valued and understood. We DO want to connect with people and have a sense of belonging. We DO want to have harmony and love in our relationships.
So why does it sometimes feel so challenging and impossible to have this?
- We all have a unique model of the world. Every second we are bombarded with about 3 millions bits of sensory data from the outside world. Out of these 3 millions bits of information, we ONLY process consciously about 7 pieces of that information. Have you ever been in a situation where you have shared an experience with someone and yet they have remembered very different things to you? Or perhaps you have had a conversation with someone and they have misinterpreted what you said, or thought you said something when you hadn’t?
- We filter and edit the world differently. So considering that every second we are bombarded with an incredible amount of information from the outside world and we ONLY process about 7 pieces of that information, it’s highly unlikely that we are processing the information in the same way. We all have different past experiences, different values and beliefs, different ways of understanding our world. This impacts how we filter and edit the sensory data that we receive. For example if you believe that you are going to have a bad day then it is likely that you will focus on the things in your day that make you feel bad. Have you ever noticed that you get what you focus on? If you are looking for confirmation that someone is out to get you then you will find it. If you are expecting someone to behave in a certain way (good or bad), then you will find the evidence to prove yourself right. If you are buying a new car or thinking about something then you notice it more! We are ALL experiencing the world in a different way and yet we often assume that others think the same as we do, and they don’t!
- We put meaning to our experiences. After the process of filtering and editing we then make sense of the situation and we put our own meaning to it. The tone of voice someone has just used…. Are they being awkward? Are they in a bad mood? There is no need to talk like that I was just asking a question! Or someone has just ignored you when you asked a question…. They must be ignorant or rude! OR have you considered that they might be hard of hearing or that they just didn’t her you? Perhaps they were thinking about something else or not concentrating. BUT what we do is we make assumptions and create a narrative about what must be true. Even though we don’t actually know what THE truth is.
So what can you do to help improve your relationships and take back control?
Gandhi famously quoted ‘Be the Change you wish to see in the world’. So you can start here if you want to.
If you are not getting a response you want in a relationship or you are struggling to make sense of a situation, then start with yourself.
Get Curious – Have you assumed something that isn’t actually true? Are you expecting someone to behave in a certain way because that’s how you would do it? Have you made assumptions and judgements before checking the facts?
Accept that we are ALL different – Recognise that you are unique with your view and perceptions of the world, and others are unique with theirs. No one has the same map of the world. Seek to understand and question or challenge your own assumptions or reactions.
One of the presuppositions in NLP states that ‘ the person with the greatest flexibility of thought and behaviour will have the greatest influence in any situation’.
What this assumes is that changing your thinking to view the situation with a wider perspective, will help you to have more control, understanding and influence in any interaction.
So if you want to be a co-creator of a more peaceful, understanding and empathic world and have fulfilling and harmonious relationships then you have the power within you to do this. Change your perspective, change your thinking and feelings and transform how you respond. Go gently on yourself as you navigate your relationships with curiosity and compassion. Get curious about your own map of the world as you get curious about others.
I would love for you to head over to my podcast ‘Unlocking Possibilities and listen to the episode where I am talking about what I have discussed in this blog.
You can listen here 👇
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Gratitude and Peace