Learning to Communicate Effectively
I wish I lived in a world where people could communicate honestly, freely, kindly and safely. Not just the nice stuff but the hard stuff as well.
Sadly that doesn’t happen in my world.
Emotionally dysfunctional families have problems with communication. They have all been trained since childhood by unhealthy examples.
They are either aggressive, passive/aggressive or passive communicators. Healthy or assertive communication has no place in a dysfunctional family.
Children of abuse learn early on, that life is not comfortable if they speak the truth openly, that it’s painful to try to tell people what you really need, and that it’s not safe to talk about your own problems.
In abusive families everyone has problems and baggage, no one can hear yours over their own.
In order to survive and have some degree of peace, you have to stifle your voice, edit your truth, you are unable to express your uncomfortable emotions. Every time you have tried, it has only caused pain, ridicule, minimalization, conflict, confusion, misunderstandings, rejection or hostility.
Lets face it.. we will all try to avoid that.
Having to avoid it, is what causes depression – the hopelessness of trying to communicate in dysfunctional families where no-one hears you. The inner anger at not being allowed to speak freely without fear. For some the outer anger at the injustice.
As a child I needed to express myself, my worries, my problems – my opinions, my anger, my sadness without fear of rejection, misunderstanding, ridicule or hostility .. but it was not possible.
I wasn’t allowed to be angry, overwhelmed, sad, annoyed or frustrated – these were not appropriate emotions for me to have – words like ‘get over it’ were used or ‘there are people worse off than you’, stop crying, quit moaning. I had no choice but to repress it. Narcissistic families have enough drama to cope with, the children become invisible, emotionally neglected, ignored, abandoned.
Emotionally abusive families don’t deal with stuff, they blame others, they never take responsibility. I finally started to speak out as an adult in order to heal.. and I was ostracized by my family. They didn’t want to deal with it, they didn’t want to hear it or heal it – they would rather I disappear. I was silenced. Even if I tried to communicate effectively, they didn’t want to hear the truth. It came to the point that.. either you allow me to express myself or I cannot remain in this family.
Due to this dysfunction from childhood.. boundaries, dealing with conflict and verbally expressing difficult emotions becomes an area in which we have no expertise as adults.
It sets us up for more drama in life and ongoing problems relating to people. Great feelings of disconnection, loneliness, confusion and emotional pain.
There becomes a hopelessness in trying to communicate effectively with people. Sometimes we do not know how to deal with or handle emotional issues with others, so we instinctively do it the family way – the only way we know how … ignore, deny, repress.. repeat – usually with bad outcomes…
In order to heal from emotional abuse we have to learn as adults to communicate and express ourselves in a way that is good for us … and in a way that does not hurt another.
We have to become assertive and practice and learn healthy communication skills.
When dealing with conflict.. ‘I feel..’ is a good start to a conversation. I felt annoyed when.., I feel hurt because… I’m unable to cope right now as..
Learning to verbalize healthy boundaries becomes an art to learn and you find others appreciate and accept your truth if you speak it openly, with kind but assertive words.
It takes baby steps and practice.
The unhealthy cycle of communication is based on fear of conflict, it’s understandable from what we’ve come from. It’s not our fault, but it is only up to us to change it.
To learn new healthy ways to interact rather than what has become habit .. to shut down, avoid, stifle or run .. or rant, yell, scream, mock, curse, threaten.
Both these actions and communication styles hurt people.
If not we are destined to repeat our unhealthy painful family history by communicating in a way that is no longer necessary.
– We need to express the hard stuff in a healthy manner in order to have peace and to be free from depression.
In time we learn who the aggressive communicators are, those who don’t care to understand us or our feelings, and we learn those who run to avoid conflict, those who attack instead of talk.
People who won’t let us speak or don’t respond to us as adults keep us wounded.
Unless we change, we become emotional abusers ourselves. We become passive or passive/ aggressive or aggressive in our approach and that is hurtful to yourself and others.
Emotional and verbal abuse hurts, healthy communication heals.
We need to break the cycle.
Love and baby steps,