There is likely a lot of confusion regarding the concept of "healing". In this post I would like to discuss the possibility of healing our past injuries through developing effective compassionate communication in our intimate relationships. Each relationship has the potential to make us suffer more or to make us suffer less. It is often thought that we pick a partner who might in some way remind us of a parent with whom we have had unresolved emotional issues. I am not sure what the research is regarding this hypothesis. What we do know is that we carry past injuries into our loving relationships. I suspect that the behavior that we have learned in the past can provoke responses in the other that might make them look like the monsters that we believed we may have grown up with. That statement is a little bit much. I know for myself that my father had his own issues, but there were times when I brought out the worst in him. We are hoping that this relationship of ours will be fulfilling, loving, and healing. If we didn't think that, why would we bother to put our energy into it. What we do in these relationships will determine to a large degree if we are to heal or suffer more. Whether we suffer more or less, there is one thing that we know for sure, and it is that relationships are learning experiences, and that ultimately we are going to learn, one way or another. Hopefully we will learn to be more loving and compassionate as a result of our marriage or intimate connection, and that relationship will endure and be a source of nurturance for our soul. There are strategies and skills that we can practice to improve our ability to communicate effectively, and to develop our ability to be empathetic and compassionate. I once heard Dr. Russ Patrick state that human beings are complex. When we put two humans together things become very challenging. I really have to say that from my experience this is another absolute truth. In today's world we enter relationships with many expectations. Many of these expectations are unrealistic and as Ester Perel says, "We look to our partners to fulfill many of the needs that we once depended upon at an entire village to meet. I like her statement that we want our partner to be our close friend, confidant, lover, and someone who will challenge us to self actualize. This seems like a tall order for one person to fulfill. I guess that the greater the expectations we have for our partner, the more possibilities there are for us to be disappointed. I don't remember if I put this in a post before, but she makes the statement that we want our partner to (In to me see) Then the question becomes what we do when we are disappointed. When they don't see into us and meet our every need. How do we handle that disappointment and how does our partner react to being the object of our disappointment. If they don't handle things well we become even more disappointed. There is the potential to make quite a mess. There is also the potential to do things differently, to do things differently from that which we may have witnessed as a child or teenager. That is if we witnessed chaos, conflict, and less than optimal compassion, which is often the case for many of us. We learned many of the behaviors that don't work so well as watched our parents, the parents that we don't want to be like, and that we are in fact like, We make things worse when we can't admit that we often behave much like them. Come on, why wouldn't we behave like them. They were our models, our teachers. Often we may have not seen anything different, and if we did it might seem ridiculous. We have the potential to be less reactive, to communicate more effectively, and to learn to be more deeply compassionate. We have the potential to learn to listen, deeply, and compassionately. We have the potential not to create excessive expectations, for both ourselves and our partners. We have the potential to "ask in a way that doesn't ensure that we won't get what we are asking for" It takes effort and courage to learn something new, commitment, and practice to develop skills. Is it worth it?
Healing the Wounds of the Past
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