Robert Elias Najemy
HOW WE COMMUNICATE NOW
Let us briefly mention how most people communicate now. There are two basic categories; those who suppress themselves and do not communicate; and those who suppress the others by raising their voices, blaming and criticizing the others, ordering them around in various ways.
The first group of self-suppressors eventually develops various physical and psychological problems, through the suppression of their needs, emotions and beliefs.
The second group may manage to get what they want from the others, but they also cause the others to develop feelings of resentment towards them.
Neither of these methods of communication is effective. What then is the alternative? There is a third possibility in which we communicate the truth and do not suppress our feelings, beliefs or needs. But we express ourselves without demeaning or blaming the other in anyway. We maintain respect for ourselves and for the other. We neither speak up to nor down towards the other, but rather directly and openly, as two mature adults, who are taking responsibility for their lives and their realities.
This is absolutely essential in our communication with children. Blaming children for our unhappiness seriously undermines their self-image, self-confidence, self-worth and self-love.
Effective communication is not possible without a clear understanding of what we are feeling. Behind every feeling or emotion there lies a belief conscious or subconscious (usually the latter) which is causing us to have that emotion. That belief could be called a "programming". What we feel is a result of what we believe about what is happening. What we believe is dependent on our childhood experiences, and conclusions. These affect how we feel in certain situations, and thus they affect how we act towards our children and others.
We need to be able to understand what we are feeling, and why we are feeling that way, so that we can communicate the truth to the child. This is effective communication - the truth.
Most often we do not communicate the truth. We do not want to lie, but we simply have not yet discovered the truth. We have not yet analyzed ourselves to discover why we are feeling the way we are. We have not analyzed our programmings and beliefs to see whether they are logical or simply learned thoughts, patterns, habits and fears which we have been programmed into us and which are causing us to mechanically transfer our beliefs, prejudices, fears, and expectations onto our children.
There can be no evolution in this way. And where there is no evolution eventually there is revolution. When we fail to continue to grow, then we obviously come into conflict with the forces of change and evolution which are working through our children. The result is conflict between us. We are not suggesting that we adopt our childrenĘs beliefs or ways, but rather that we simply do some self-analysis to examine our programmings, needs, motives, expectations and fears to see if they are valid, fair and practical.
EMOTIONS ARE THE RESULT OF OUR INTERPRETATIONS OF REALITY
Our emotions are not so much the function of what others do or what happens in the world. How we feel is a function of how we interpret the world and events around us. Each person, observing the same event, will feel differently depending on his or her childhood programming, expectations, attachments and fears. No two people will feel exactly the same while observing the same event, or receiving the same stimulus.
What does this have to do with communication? Everything. We communicate what we feel. This is true even when we try to suppress or hide our feelings. They are transmitted like radar to those around us without words or expression.
We often fail to express what we really feel. We might express anger and rejection to our children (or others) when in reality we are feeling fear or self-doubt. This is not truthful communication.
Usually our first emotion is self-doubt, disappointment or fear, and then we feel anger. But we express only the anger. We hold the others responsible for our unhappiness. We use phrases like "bad boy", "bad girl", "you are lazy", "you are stupid", "you will not do anything in your life", "you will be the death of me", "you are driving me crazy". "you are making me ill.".
These messages, although not really meant, are taken very seriously by children and are programmed into their subconscious mind. They then begin to make those words come true. Or they may spend their whole life trying to prove that they are not true. No matter how much they may prove it, however, they may never succeed in believing that they is okay because they are programmed deep inside to doubt their worth,
Such messages are called "you-messages" and are based on the false idea that the other is responsible for how we feel. Our programming and expectations are responsible for how we feel. We create our inner reality with how we interpret the events around us.
"You-messages" are destructive to our childrenĘs self-image and close the door to open communication. We may succeed in making our children behave in this way but we will lose our loving contact and cause them to have serious problems. A more effective method of communication is called the "I-message".