I often imagine the man from the Verizon commercial bursting through my office door wearing a red cape, interrupting some argumentative couple in a heated battle and shouting, “Can you hear me now?” The answer would be, “No.” We don’t hear each other and this is often a major factor in separations and divorces, in the demise of friendships and in the lost connections we experience with our kids.
There are lots of excuses about why we don’t talk or listen to each other, but not many legitimate reasons. One of the big problems is that we are not very honest or trustworthy. I would venture to say there are as many definitions of what being honest is as there are people. According to Allison Kornet in an article in Psychology Today (6/97), most people lie as often as they brush their teeth. The average person lies at least once or twice a day, and dating couples lie in about one third of all of their interactions! The figures are even higher than that when people are talking on the phone instead of in person. In one survey, nearly 75% of those polled said they would lie, if necessary. Take this little test and see how honest you are.
1. Do you share information with others that is derogatory or harmful about your partner other than in a therapeutic setting in which these issues are being addressed?
2. Do you create a non-safe environment by bringing up issues from the past for which you have said he or she was forgiven?
3. Do you use your partner’s shortcomings as a weapon to diminish him or her?
4. Do you invite energy into the relationship that is not supportive to your
mate or your marriage/relationship bond?
5. Do you share private or intimate information without your partner’s permission?
6. Do you share his or her shortcomings or character flaws with others?
7. Do you talk about the ways in which he or she is remiss as a partner to others?
8. Are there ways in which you are deliberately inaccurate to win your point?
9. Do you call in the troops or relate how “others” feel when addressing an issue with your partner?
10 Do you discuss issues with others that concern you partner before speaking to him or her?
11. Do you bring up information about your partner’s past, family, career or other issues that could be painful to your partner in order to get a winning advantage in a discussion?
12. Do you use shaming or blaming language to reinforce your point? (name calling, labels, foul language, derogatory sexual terms, etc.)
13. Do you become verbally abusive, use threats, fear, guilt, control, and physical threats?
14. Do you use passive, noncommittal, compliant, indifferent language to manipulate your partner?
15. Do you use “pay back” or vengeful language and techniques?
16. Do you answer questions with questions?
17. Do you avoid taking responsibility by pointing out your partner’s failings?
18. Do you deliberately verbally inflict pain to stop the process?
19. Do you avoid the issues by talking about unrelated topics or nor talking at all?
20. Do you often think things you never say or withhold information?
21. Do you ever tell your partner what he or she should do?
22. Do you ever make “innocent” or critical remarks that hurt your partner?
23. Do you feel it is unnecessary to apologize?
24. Do you express cynical, doubting responses to attempts at growth?
25. Do you make commitments you do not keep? Do you promise to honor requests and then fail to do so?
26. Do you express yourself with ambiguity and uncertainty?
27. Do you withhold praise and encouragement?
28. Do you solicit information that your partner has told you he or she is not ready to share?
29. Do you exaggerate or embellish information?
30. Do you shift the blame to others for your own actions and behavior?
If you answered any of these questions affirmatively, you are, consciously or unconsciously, creating a lack of safety in your relationship – one that will make open communication impossible. Not being honest in a relationship creates an unsafe place where authentic communication becomes impossible.
Words can destroy a relationship or empower it. They can provide safety or erode it. Words can create a healing or a hostile environment. Words can define our relationships as sacred, holy, ordinary or debased. Words are the bridge between thought, manifestation, and reality. Therefore, they are of great importance. Everything was first thought of — and then defined by words — and then made manifest. Miracles, life changes, and enlightenment evolve from words. Words have great power in relationships because they speak of the heart’s intent. Spirit created everything that is, through the power of words.
No word is ever lost. Words are energy. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Forget I ever said that?” Impossible to do, isn’t it? In metaphysics, we have learned that words carry great energy and always manifest on some level at some time. Words protect the sanctity and boundaries in a relationship and allow for deeper, more intimate healing. Or, words can break boundaries, reveal secrets and leave partners feeling betrayed and unsafe. Words have great power to unite or separate, create love or isolation.
Words define our relationships to ourselves and to one another. They tell us whether we have integrity, emotional courage, compassion and understanding. When we abandon or betray our partners, we have, in fact, abandoned and betrayed ourselves because our personal level of integrity is reflected in our words and actions. Any betrayal or abandonment reflects a lack of integrity in us, not our partner. If you have chosen to make love with a person, at the very least they deserve you respect. Even if they later disappoint you, move on and deal with your choice by healing yourself rather than destroying the reputation of the person with whom you have a past.
With words, we can create information that is derogatory or harmful to another. With words, we can treat one another with awe and respect as precious human beings courageous enough to walk this path together. Do you not think it is astounding that we have the courage to make commitments to each other to peel away the barriers to intimacy and sit together, willing to show the truth of who we are? When one makes this incredible commitment, he or she deserves the best we have to offer on every level. It is our individual job to see that the best is what we offer in our actions and our words.
Authentic healing is distinguished by not needing to embellish or edit. You experience realness in the exchange. When it’s real, you don’t need to add anything. Feelings, thoughts, and responses will flow freely, uncoerced and without exaggeration. Important expression flows naturally and without self-judgment. If you find yourself editing, go back to the initial stages and deal with your resistance or fears about telling the truth or disclosing. Examine what’s going on, and explore again why you may not be feeling safe.
Another factor in our refusal to listen is that we assume we must take responsibility for the other person’s reality. We feel we need “to fix it or have the answer” instead of just understanding how the other persons’ truth is true for him or her. Your partner’s truth may not be the same as yours and that is ok. The only thing we need to do is be authentic in our attempt to understand how our partner’s could feel the way they do. Listening with an attempt to simply understand opens the door to change and resolve.
Authentic listening will go from
Energetic Connection to –> Resistance/Support to –>Issues that Surface to –>
Resolution/Integration to –>Energetic Release and finally to –> Completion/ Healing.
Thomas Merton tells us that rushing is another form of violence. When it comes to communication, this could not be more true. Taking the time to fully understand what the other person is saying is a gift that says; I value you and what you feel. Communication is the most important element in any successful relationship. When meaningful communication is a priority, the result is deeper bonds, safer emotional work and with couples an increase in passion and sexuality. The first thing that goes out the door in any relationship after safe communication is lost – is sex. No real intimacy can be created in a relationship where partners do not feel heard and understood. To begin to practice safe communication, you can download the Communication Exercise right off my site and start the process with your partner, your child or family member. http://www.drdinaevan.com.
Words are beautiful. They are a gift of our humanness, the way we express the inner most feelings and needs we have with each other. There is nothing more precious than having someone in your life who is willing to share his or her fears, dreams, visions, hopes for the future and needs with you. Get authentic and ask yourself, What is the most important gift I can give those I love in the New Year. There is no doubt in my mind that the answer will be, next time you are asked, “Can you hear me now,” your answer could be “yes.”
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013