This past month I finished I finished Brene Browns Atlas of the Heart which struck a deep chord inside me as it discussed that much of our conflict with loved ones occurs due to unsaid or unmet expectations. It takes time, presence, patience, and taking a deep look at ourselves to determine that the fight over connection is truly about. When our significant other asks for something, and we resist or dismiss the request, what else is really going on there?
I know I like to avoid conflict, yet that avoidance does not serve me in my relationships as it can make others feel not heard or seen. It is painful to be called out, or hear grievances, and far too often, I am too busy preparing a counterpoint rather than listening for the unsaid or unmet expectation. And it goes the other way, too. When I fail to express what I truly feel or state my expectation, it sets up perfectly an argument that is all surface, mean-spirited, and unhelpful, adding layers on unnecessary pain and hurt instead of providing the relief of true communication.
None of what I read was new, but I know constant reminders of better communication is the only way to build the muscle for connection. I get to learn to not hide or avoid, to make the eye contact even as my body floods with emotions, and I just want to run away or become a quiet ninja. It did not occur to me how painful that can be for the other who is trying to share their feelings.
It is always a challenge to put to practice new or difficult things, and I realize just like working out physically, connected communication requires continual work, and sharing. It is also important to let the other know what you are up to so they can hold you accountable, and perhaps, just maybe, do the same when talking to you. Just like anything, it takes time, and also constant awareness, but I also know the rewards of doing the work.
And so I begin, and hopefully, I can express my unmet/unsaid expectations and also hear the other persons.