Let’s continue our look at Conscious Relating… last week I described Conscious Relating as having four main characteristics: self-awareness, other-awareness (in other words, seeing and listening), taking responsibility, and authentic communication.
Let’s dive into the foundation of conscious relating: Self-Awareness. If we want to consciously relate with another, first we have to know ourselves – what we are feeling, needing, wanting, desiring. Our desire may be to simply hear how another person is doing or it may be that we have an urgent need to communicate or anywhere in between.
Over the years of studying relationships and myself, I’ve been shocked at times to realize that the “actual” motivation behind my communication was something very different than what I “thought” it was. I’ve noticed that there are times when I believe that I am communicating with the intention of helping or supporting another person, and when I’ve looked deeper, I’ve found a more selfish motivation. I’m almost embarrassed to share this and I know from speaking and working with many others, that I am not alone. I’ve done much work to really know and express myself honestly and sometimes I still catch myself.
There are several ways in which we can be unconscious in our communication when we are not fully aware of ourselves. Let’s look at a couple of those ways and then we’ll look at some ways to be more deeply self-aware and more conscious in our relating.
First, I’ve recognized in myself that sometimes I help others because I want them to like me, or approve of me, or even do something in return for me. When I’m conscious that I have multiple motives and I communicate that to the person I’m interacting with, that’s perfectly ok. When I am unaware of what I’m really wanting or needing from an interaction with another it can set us both up to feel less than ideal or even dissatisfied.
Another way that we can be unconscious in our relating is when we pretend that everything is ok when it’s really not. We often feel wrong or bad if we are upset or angry with someone so we hold that emotion in and we say things are ok when we really don’t feel that way inside. Alternatively, we can be asked a question, and we are afraid that our honest answer will hurt another person’s feelings so we tell a little white lie instead of sharing the truth of what we are feeling.
These little evasions may seem inconsequential in the moment and yet when we build a long-term relationship – whether with a significant other, a co-worker, or our family – on these little white lies or left-out details we build a pretty shaky foundation for that relationship. I’m sure you’ve experience an “outburst” of “held-in” frustration – either from yourself or another – when holding in what we really feel gets to be just too much! Then we look at each other and wonder, “Do I really know this person?” The truth is maybe we do and maybe we don’t. The only way to truly know each other is to share our true selves – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.
In order to express ourselves honestly we have to know what we feel, what we want, or what we need. In order to speak honestly, we have to know what the truth is within ourselves. For some of us, that may seem daunting – it did for me at one time. I often had no idea what I felt, needed, or wanted and that made it challenging to share myself with others!
Start paying attention to yourself and start sharing the truth of who you and what you are feeling!
Until next time… Blessings to all, Joanna
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.