Relationship Counseling: Keys for Success!
Have you ever wondered what happens when you fight with your spouse, partner, family member, or someone you love? Why is it that that the person you love can trigger such strong reactions from you? And why do you become so emotional in response to the disagreement, argument, or fight? The answer is that all of us our vulnerable in love. It just comes with the territory. The more we love and care for someone the more susceptible we become to not only experiencing joy but to also experiencing pain and hurt. In fact, the strong reactions and emotions we experience in conflict or distance with a loved one are the same reactions and emotions we experience when we are facing a threat to our well being. For example, if you were walking down one our beautiful desert trails and came upon a snake, your mind would recognize the danger and very quickly trigger your body into its survival mechanisms: fight, flight, or freeze. The same process occurs when we are fighting with a loved one. Our mind, recognizing danger, triggers us into our protective reactions. We either go into attack mode, shut down and distance ourselves, or freeze up and have that “deer in the headlights” response.
Disconnection Equals Danger!
What is the danger in an argument with our spouse, partner, or loved one you might be asking? The danger is losing connection, closeness, or the worst case scenario: losing the relationship entirely and completely. The threat is being alone, isolated, rejected, and/or abandoned which for many triggers the same response we would have in a life or death situation. Our brains are hard wired to keep us safe so whether it is a snake on the road or losing connection with a loved one we respond with the same intensity in our emotions and behaviors. This is why when you are fighting with someone you love it deeply impacts you. It is because they matter to you!
The Three C’s of Relationship Counseling!
The next time you are having an argument take the time to slow down your internal emotional process, take a deep breathe, remember that you may be coming from a place of fear. Next, try following the three C’s: Communicate, Connect, Change. The three C’s are an effective tool that I use in my relationship counseling sessions. They are listed below:
In my relationship counseling sessions I focus heavily on helping people to effectively communicate their thoughts, perceptions, feelings, wants, and needs. When you can open up and share all of yourself it helps the others person to truly see you and hear you. It also give them an opportunity to respond to you with what need. Of course, it can be scary to be vulnerable because of our abandonment and rejection fears but the more you share the less power those fears have over you. Take a risk and tell the other person about your fear. You may find that it is not so scary after all.
Once families or couples have communicated all of their experience the next step is to connect. You can connect by clearly articulating what it is you need and want from the other person. The important part of connecting is that you have to be clear and direct with your needs. Most of want to know the other person cares. The way each person feels cared for can be different. For instance, it may be as simple as being heard, receiving a hug, a soft touch, a look, or anything that indicates the other person is there for you.
Once the speaker has shared his or her emotions and needs the job of the listener is to respond with what is needed. Of course, this cannot be an automatic response void of emotion. It has to be genuine and come from the heart. The listener has to move beyond their own fear and allow their care to come through to the speaker. This is where real change occurs. This process may need to be reversed meaning that each person takes turns being in the role of speaker and listener. This is to allow reciprocal caring and sharing in the relationship.
To review, first you slow down your fight, flight or freeze response down, communicate your deeper and vulnerable emotions, connect by clearly articulating your needs and wants, and then experience a positive change in the relationship dynamic. The 3 C’s are a tool I use in relationship counseling and can be applied in virtually any family, romantic, or close relationship. If you follow these relationship communication keys you will have more success.