When our partners hurt us in our intimate relationships, it can cut deeper than any pain imaginable. Our partners know our buttons, our weaknesses, and our pain. When they wound us, it is often because they have touched on a childhood issue. We have conflicts in our relationship when our partners hurt us. Conflict or hurt is only growth trying to happen. When we feel hurt or angry, we must recommit to our own journey of self-love and healing. In doing so, we recommit to our partner by saying, “I will stick with this uncomfortable feeling and work it out with you.” We don’t want to shove that hurt feeling down inside and let resentment build. Our next step is sharing that hurt with our partners in a constructive way. I teach my clients to use Imago Dialogue to share their feelings of hurt and disappointment. Imago Dialogue enables each partner to have a turn in talking while the other person listens, repeats, validates, and acknowledges. This is a very powerful tool in getting to the root cause of your hurt or pain.
Effective communication is crucial to a healthy relationship. Having good communication skills may not solve or resolve every problem or issue, but no problem or issue will be resolved with them! Some days we may communicate better than other days, but we can never choose not to communicate or shut down in our intimate relationships.
We often aren’t even aware of how little we listen to our partners. They speak, and in our minds, we think, “I have heard this a million times before.”
Maybe you have heard it, but never have you really listened, repeated your partner’s feelings, validated those feeling, and then finally empathized with your partner for having these feelings in the first place. When you take the time to accurately understand what your partner says, what they mean, you will deepen your love connection and avoid unnecessary hurt and pain.
Let’s go over these steps of Conscious communication with your partner to resolve your hurt and angry feelings.
The first step is MIRRORING.
Mirroring is the process of completely listening to your partner and accurately reflecting the entire “content” of their message. Most times, repeating back the exact words that your partner is saying is most effective.
Some specific phrases for mirroring include
Let me see if I got you…
I heard you say…
Did I get that …
After repeating back your partner’s feelings, you always ask, “Is there anything else?” This enables your partner to continue to share on a deeper level. Often your partner will really get to the bottom of their hurt and angry feeling by digging deep here.
The second step is VALIDATION.
Validation is communicating to your partner that the information you are receiving and mirroring “makes sense.” It is very important that you always remember these feelings are not your own. They are your partner’s hurt and angry feelings, and you need to agree and validate them no matter how crazy they may seem.
This is crucial. Don’t let your ego get in the way here. It isn’t about winning an argument. It is about uncovering your partner’s childhood wounds.
Some typical statements of validation can include
“You make sense to me…”.
“I can understand that you feel this way given that….”
“I can see how you would see it that way because sometimes I do….”
The final step is EMPATHY.
Empathy is recognizing the feelings that your partner is sharing.
It is the process of reflecting, imagining, and participating in how your partner is feeling. Empathy allows both partners to overcome their own individual feelings, even for just a moment, and experience a genuine meeting of the minds. This experience has tremendous healing power.
Some typical phrases for empathic communication include
“I can imagine that when that happens, you may feel…”
“I can see that you are feeling…”
at the deepest level, “I am experiencing your (feelings)….”
A relationship is like a spiral repeating the stages of love and the experience of repair and connection through conscious communication. You enter the relationship through a doorway of love, hit the hurts and power struggles, repair and work on your connection again. Your hurts and pain become lessened each time you can successfully complete the conscious communication process through the proper safe dialogue.
This is because you can truly understand what is going on for your partner and are willing to take that journey to help heal them.