For years, I knew I had trouble communicating authentically in my relationships. But I had no idea what exactly was going on psychologically. Was I doing something wrong? If so, was it something I could fix?
In fact, this self-blaming way of thinking actually was making things worse. What I uncovered on my journey of self-discovery was that my communication issues were the result of something much deeper going on inside me. They had to do with how I felt about myself, and deep issues I was working through, rather than something inherently wrong with me.
Communication issues are one of the most common reasons relationships fail. Sure, most of us have the best of intentions in relationships, but often we don’t have the proper skills to communicate effectively with others. This leads to friction, which leads to further communication issues, which leads to fighting. The cycle is vicious — unless we are aware of the communication issues at hand.
It’s not our fault we don’t have the skills, but it is within our power and responsibility to learn to develop them if we want to have lasting, fulfilling relationships.
So let's think back to how we learned to communicate in the first place. The answer's simple: we develop the majority of our communication skills and habits as a child through interaction with our parents. Nine times out of ten, our parents weren’t taught effective communication skills either and they unknowingly passed on some bad habits.
When I finally realized certain habits (particularly communication habits) sabotaged my relationships, I made it my mission to uncover why they were happening, and what I could do to change them.
Here are three common reasons behind communication issues in relationships and some tips for how to overcome them:
1. You avoid conflict.
The thought of dealing with conflict creates anxiety and a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You are a master at developing extremely creative plans, excuses and reasons that allow you to avoid conflict at all costs.
The root of avoiding conflict comes from being scared to fully express your voice. This fear of fully expressing yourself most often develops when you experience verbal, mental, emotional or physical abuse as a child.You quickly learned to your change your actions to get approval and love in order to create the security you needed to survive in that environment.
In every significant relationship, conflict will occur. It’s part of developing a deeper connection. The key is to learn to face conflict and speak your truth so you can fully and confidently communicate your deeper needs and desires to have them met in the relationship.
2. You criticize and blame others a lot.
The real reason we criticize and blame others is because we have a deeper tendency to want to criticize and blame ourselves. Think about how often you beat yourself up in your head, and then think about how often you do this to others. Whatever you feel on the inside about yourself is what you will project onto others on the outside.
This need to criticize and blame yourself comes from feelings of being shamed as a child. Somewhere along the way in your development, you were taught the real you wasn’t good enough. You felt shame for being different. To fit in, you tried to hide your true nature and desires. Then, you began to beat yourself up internally when you strayed or wanted to stray from the norm.
The secret here is to learn to fully love and accept yourself, especially the weirdness and quirks. Then you will be able to fully love and accept others. The criticism and blame will melt away and you can create a relationship where there isn’t a constant need to find faults and put others down.
3. You have trouble trusting.
Do trust issues seem to plague your relationships? Do you often have feelings of jealousy and insecurity? Do you express these feelings to your partner, and find that they are frustrated with you?
Feelings of distrust come from being controlled, dominated or manipulated in harmful ways as a child. The reason you act out with jealousy and insecurity is because on a deep subconscious level you are deeply saddened by the experience and are fearful of being controlled again. When one or both people need to feel in control, neither one of you feels safe and secure to fully be your true self.
These three habits may have worked to protect your safety and connection to your source of love as a child, but as adults, they most likely will leave you feeling unfulfilled, distant and unable to create open, honest and truly intimate relationships.
If you are anything like me and have experienced trouble communicating in relationships, there comes a point when you know it's time to make some necessary changes. Ultimately, your happiness is in your hands (or really your voice). You have the power to create a healthy, lasting relationship if you so choose.
I invite you to join me for my free webinar, where you will learn how to release the anxiety and fear to overcome the 6 harmful habits that secretly sabotage 90% of all relationships.