From Push to Pull

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” James Baldwin

Have you ever played the blame game? Shared less than flattering information about a person with another? Silly questions, right? Because we’ve all done that and we’ve had it done to us.

We will do just about anything to dispel pain. Placing the blame on someone else allows us temporary relief from the struggle of understanding ourselves. Gossiping puts the focus on the flaws of others instead of the gaping insecurities we hide behind our smiles.

We hate what we don’t understand. We’re scared. To truly know and love someone means you will experience pain. The pain of not knowing if it will work out. The pain of vulnerability. The pain of needing and wanting someone so bad and the fear those feelings won’t be reciprocated or can change. The pain of feeling like you’ll never be enough or will never measure up. It’s easier to push people away then it is to pull them close.

Healthy relationships are built by recognition of individual needs, the sharing of those needs with our partner, and seeing those needs responded to.

How can we communicate our needs:

  1. Begin to recognize your feelings. As simple as this may sound it is very difficult to put into practice. Here’s a link to an emotional vocabulary list I use with my clients.
  2. Instead of living in reaction mode think before you speak. Internally ask yourself “what am I feeling right now?” “What do I need right now?”
  3. After identifying what you’re feeling and what you need share that with your partner or the person with whom you are communicating with.

Step one can take some time. This process may look simple but I assure you even for me at times it is not. I typically use these strategies with couples during the middle stage of therapy not in the beginning. If you and your spouse have a healthy relationship these are strategies that can help strengthen your bond. If you are struggling in your marriage, let these be goals you work on with your marriage therapist.

Use these strategies to help you build self-awareness. Identifying your emotions and attaching them to specific needs you have can go a long way in helping you have healthier and more meaningful connections with others. In many ways you can see how you can meet your own needs or how incorporating faith into your life can meet your needs. No one person can meet every one of your needs- including your partner.

Take time to get to know yourself. Work out a plan for how to best meet the needs you have in this season of life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. Stay tuned this week as I dive deeper into each of these steps and give practical tools for growing in self-awareness.


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