Many people I encounter do not understand that persistent negative themes running in their current lives and relationships are clues to what they need to resolve if they are to authentically live more satisfied lives. Furthermore, these people who are hurting (or chose to ignore their problems) have grown accustomed of not viewing their negative experiences or conflicts as their unresolved issues, but rather have created (maybe out of ignorance) defense mechanism that impede them from living healthy behaviors.
Briefly, what are defense mechanisms? They are psychological strategies that protect a person from experiencing anxiety or fears that arise from feelings or thoughts that they do not accept within themselves and then react defensively by accusing or blaming others. At one point of our lives, we have all used defense mechanisms to cope. However, the person who choses to embrace personal development employs healthy strategies to improve their chances of working with and not against themselves or against others.
Healthy coping strategies are learned behaviors taught by an expert, which brings me to add why then is it that many of my colleagues and I witness adults unwilling to receive help with improving their interpersonal skills? One astonishing reason: Most people believe they can change by themselves. They believe they have the discipline and the know-hows (they overestimate), but statistics and reality shows something quite opposite.
How an adult begins to resolve their problems (insecurities, defensiveness, victim mentalities) that currently play out is achieved primarily through professional therapy or behavioral coaching. These professionals have plenty of experience in this arena. It takes a skilled person on the outside with knowledge, resources and tools to help take a deeper look into a person, and begin teaching what it means to take responsibility for their behaviors, words and choices and away from blame, shame and other psychological defense mechanism people act out from.
I will introduce four (4) areas in ways in which you can bring awareness to yourself and when dealing with others. I could write volumes on the following areas, but for the sake of this blog, I will take just bits of knowledge and truth about these often neglected aspects of life. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to seek out a professional that can help you on your journey to healing and or significantly improving these areas.
COMMUNICATION: How we talk to each other is important (this applies to texting). One of my favorite philosophers Nietzsche stated, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” I personally hold myself accountable to this motto with everyone I encounter and to the best of my ability. This especially means that when I’m investing time with someone, I’m deliberate about the importance of direct communication and no beating around the bush. I have experienced however, that some people are still reluctant to believe someone who is direct because of the following: their bias, a misunderstanding, their insecurities.
And, just because someone is direct, doesn’t mean that occasionally there won’t be a misunderstanding. Misunderstandings are part of communication and not to be feared. However, keep in mind that misunderstandings usually DO NOT carry an accusatory nor defensive language. The latter takes this communication to another more alerting behavior. Watch out for red flags!
ASSUMPTIONS: We all make assumptions, but it’s the chronic ones that you need to become aware of and consistently make strides to change what and how you perceive people. One way to get out of the habit of making assumptions is asking questions. I cannot emphasize the importance about asking questions!
American educator and businessman Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Please read the quote again because it is very profound. Mr. Covey’s quote suggests a person to ask questions and to listen with more than one’s ears and to embrace the energy around the conversation. Yes it does take effort, but if you care to live more harmoniously with others and yourself, you’ll make efforts. You can always improve your listening skills because you’re doing it all the time anyway. It’s about refining!
Verify: I’m seeing more adults create unnecessary drama in their relationships (superficial and significant ones) because they simply didn’t ask if what they were reading/hearing/ experiencing was accurate. By clarifying & verifying, you not only give yourself less heartache, but you give the other person a chance to clarify too. Who wouldn’t want that? So the more insecure an individual is, the greater their assumptions are. They have a tendency to view people’s words and actions as negative and against them. Unfortunately, these days the media doesn’t help this problem; in fact it actually enables and feeds from what I describe as, bad behavior. In today’s world, it seems people live by flight or fight and that’s a lot of negative energy to live by.
Consider learning how to ask better questions, and not make assumptions even when what you are hearing “sounds” to you out of balance or wrong. Ask for verification, clarity and more directness.
TRUST: There is no doubt that we have all been hurt. And, having trust issues not only creates obstacles to connecting with others, warmth and intimacy, but robs us from creating all-around love in our life. After all, trust keeps us psychologically healthy! However, according to experts, some people find it difficult to let go of their trust issues because they believe that they’re going to get hurt in some way, thus they assume the worse in others. Trust issues turn into self-sabotage, which generates lack of self-confidence, loneliness and missed opportunities.
Trust is what gives us credibility and integrity- without it we’ll have a difficult time creating any healthy relationship.
I’ll close with this quote that reminds my reader about the child within that never quite healed and is still yearning to grow up, but doesn’t risk it. If not now, when?
“Let us liberate ourselves from any form of control. Let us focus at the inner drum, where the rhythm aligns with that of our heart. The measure of responsibility equals to the need for evolution. Just listen to the inner child, let it whisper in you ear” Grigoris Deoudis
Encouraging You to Live Authentically,
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