Unpack the issue: communication

To unpack the issue over the next few pages, we’re going to use this three step approach:

  1. Look at WHAT the specific communication issue is for you
  2. Look at WHY this issue might be happening to you, and
  3. Look at HOW you can help deal with it in a practical way

This way is a great way to unpack any relationship issue and make sense of things.

Throughout this journey, we hope to give you plenty of things you can take away and start practising in your relationships right away.

Click ‘Next article’ when you’re ready to continue. The whole thing should take about 15 minutes.

If at any time you want to start again with a different category, just select one of the options at the bottom of the page.

Activity progress 0 of 4 Complete

Activity progress 0 of 4 Complete

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Communication – part 2
Understand WHY this is happening Now let’s look at WHY this communication issue might be happening. It may be that there’s a hidden issue at play – that’s the first thing we’ll investigate. A hidden issue is the root cause of a problem, not immediately visible on the surface. Sometimes hidden issues can stay hidden for long periods of time without ever being acknowledged. Press play on the animation below to get started. When you start to dig, here are a few things to bear in mind: It’s worth it Although it might not be pleasant, uncovering hidden issues means will make you a little more aware of your own emotions and triggers - we call this ‘emotional intelligence’. Having more emotional intelligence means you’re more likely to have stronger and more satisfying relationships. First look at your childhood Yes, we’re going there… hidden issues tend to be connected to our parental relationships. This is because our interactions in childhood tend to forge our emotional associations, which in turn help shape the way we are. Hidden issues can also stem from previous relationships and even friendships.  ‘Digging’ can be emotionally tough In the interactive segment, when Meg looks into her own history to find the source of the problem, she’s dealing with some pretty heavy emotional memories. It will be difficult for her to learn that Will walking out has triggered a painful memory from her own history. This kind of digging can sometimes be quite painful. This is another reason why talking it through with someone you trust can be helpful. You don’t have to talk it through Although you’re in a relationship and you’re perhaps quite comfortable with one another, you may not be ready to talk about any hidden issues with your partner. But that’s okay. Recognising them in yourself is a good first step to working out what changes you can make. Letting your partner know your hidden issue can help Uncovering these hidden issues can be helpful for you personally, and it can also mean that your partner knows how to be more sensitive towards you. Now that Will knows why Meg has an emotional reaction to him walking out, he can support her by trying not to trigger that fear of abandonment. He can take steps to reassure her that he’s not going to leave. Eventually, Will could even help to ease her fear of abandonment. “What if it’s not me with the hidden issue, but my partner?” For someone to uncover a hidden issue, they need to dig into their own past experiences, just as Meg did. It could be very difficult and potentially damaging to try and do this for someone else. Instead, you can support them when they are ready for some help. If you’re close with them, they may have already told you bits and pieces about their history, so you can be valuable in their process. But it is their process, so it’s generally better for them to approach it in their own time and at their own pace.  When you’re done with hidden issues, you can move on to the next page – which is the very practical bit.
Article | communication
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Communication – part 3
Learn HOW to deal with it Now that you understand a little about why these communication issues keep popping up in your relationship, you can do something about them. We’ve created vicious cycles, a short interactive exercise for you to play with. It explains how we’re all wired and how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviour are connected. It will help you to learn how to break free of negative and unhelpful relationship patterns. As you’ve just seen, one of the most practical things you can do to alter a situation is to change your thoughts. By changing your thoughts, your feelings and behaviour will follow, and this can influence the whole relationship.   So let’s see where you can start to adjust your thoughts. Think about what you’re struggling with at the moment. Try not to think about numerous issues at once, but rather, focus on a single one that’s particularly bothering you in your relationship right now. See if you can change the thought. Here are a few examples of how you can improve a thought, which can start to affect the whole cycle: Challenge the thought We’ve already said that changing a thought can affect the entire cycle of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. But sometimes, the thought doesn’t even need to be changed; it just needs to be challenged. Sometimes our thoughts can be illogical or inaccurate. If you have ever thought to yourself “I’m not good enough” (and who hasn’t, at some point?), then you’ll know that changing that thought is going to be difficult because, ultimately, it comes from a place of insecurity. But you can challenge it, and this might start with asking yourself a few questions, such as: Challenging your thoughts is a positive step towards increased emotional intelligence. Remember, the easiest way to change your feelings and therefore your behaviour is to first challenge the thought – this is likely to have the positive knock-on effect that you need. And finally… Because thoughts and feelings often pop up like reflexes, it’s sometimes a good idea to withdraw mid-flow. This helps the vicious cycle to pause while you pull back and reassess your thoughts. By changing your thoughts, you may even find yourself reversing the cycle into a positive one right there and then.
Article | communication
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