I want you to feel the difference between these statements below about two different scenarios… Really say them in a way as if you are hearing your loved one say them to you and notice what senses, thoughts, feelings, reactions come up for you?
“You should have called me when you knew you’d be late. Why didn’t you?”
“I felt very worried when I hadn’t heard from you. It’s hard for me to understand how you couldn’t call me. I need to know you are safe. In the future, please call me as soon as you are aware you may be late.”
Try this one:
“You should have come to the party. Everyone was asking me why you weren’t there.”
“I missed you at the party. Seemed many did too as they asked me where you were. I felt sad thinking that maybe our fight earlier led you to not going. Did it?”
From my experience, the first statements are fear-based reactions. They provoke feelings and negative core beliefs around fears, shame, resentment, insecurity, and inadequacy. They send the message that You should have known better and What the heck is wrong with you?.
The latter responses are loved-based, assertive and seeking to meet vital needs of love, security, safety, connection, and understanding. They send the message that I take responsibility for my own feelings and needs. That I genuinely care about your wellbeing and want you in my life. That I know that you are a good person and something reasonable must have occurred to make you act in this way. We all have valid feelings, needs, points of view and experiences that influence our behaviors and choices.
Loved-based responses with still awaken negative feelings like guilt and sadness thus our loved one will still have defense mechanisms get activated yet when we stay aware of and connected to our loved-based intentions then we create opportunities for deeper healing, connection, and growth. That’s how trust and secure relationships are built. That every time we lose it, we can with confidence know that someone will be there for us no matter what. That they will make time for us because they care about our wellbeing too.
Now because we are human, fear-based reactions and defense mechanisms are normal. We will still have them. The goal is to catch these reactions sooner and make authentic attempts at repair, connect, and understand. We need to accept the reality of the situation and our own role in it. We often aren’t able to do this in the heat of the moment so taking time to pause, self-soothe, reflect and connect to our feelings, thoughts, needs, and intentions. Then make a conscious choice to align our beliefs, thoughts, words, and actions to match that intention as well as get our needs met in a direct, respectful and nurturing way. It’s a win-win. Still not easy yet we will gain so much more in the long run. Embrace fears, love more and trust the process. The key is to send the message that even when we disagree and feel hurt by another, that we will work to understand each other and love each other though because deep down we know we are good, trust-worthy and lovable.
Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA
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