I broke all the rules!!

beyond skills conflict Oct 06, 2022

When it comes to family, it can feel like normal rules don’t apply. The truth is, they apply even more! Let me tell you how…

But first, let me share a vivid and heart-hurting example from my own festive family time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and, in many ways, we actually get on really well. But I’m the black sheep in a family of oddballs. I’m the sore thumb that sticks right out on this hand.

Being born into a family of extremely introverted people felt like a curse growing up. It was actually a gift, but not an easy one to receive. In many ways this challenging gift is what inspired me to become so passionate about human connection through how we communicate. Spurred on by a longing for emotional intimacy with my family, I have carved out a profession I deeply adore.

And yet, that tender longing to connect deeply with them still remains.

So here goes… My mum and I had a HUGE fight. I can’t remember the last time we had a fight. This was the kind of fight that has been brewing for a couple of years, unspoken in the background of our relationship.

Yet again, I’d come to her with my frustrated, impatient demands for more communication between us, for her to initiate conversations and phone calls with me, and for greater intimacy between us. Yes, I was full of righteousness and expectation.

As you might imagine, this did not inspire the loving embrace and tenderness that I ached for. In fact it had quite the opposite effect. My mother hardened and shut down. She became ever-more detached and introverted. Turns out, I was creating the very dynamic I so desperately wanted to avoid. And the worst part was that I knew it!

The more unsolicited advice and communication feedback I offered her, the worse it got. Our stilted conversation rose to a crescendo. At that point, I stormed out of her room and headed straight to the guest room, sobbing with a sense of powerlessness and abandonment. Yes, me, a communication coach!

My sobs heaved with the question; Why, with all my experience and knowledge about communication, am I unable to fix my family's communication stuff?”

The painful reality is that my mum didn’t ask me to coach her. She is not my client. Her way of communicating is hers to govern and hers alone.

In what was supposed to be a festive period, I broke all the rules.

⛔️ I projected my communication needs onto my mum, making her responsible for how I felt in our relationship.

⛔️ I succumbed to a host of expectations about how my family relationships should be, and began to grip the rope of control.

⛔️ I let anxiety and frustration guide my communication, nudging me towards detachment instead of connection.

⛔️ Worst of all, I tried to fix her when she didn’t ask to be fixed.

Maybe you can relate…

Perhaps you want a particular relational dynamic to be different from what it is. So you try to change it, manipulate it, nudge it into compliance with your wishes. When these strategies don’t work, you feel increasingly frustrated, maybe even biting your tongue, only to erupt a while later.

Ahhhh family… It’s so ironic that I’ve created many wonderful communication strategies and tools to help you avoid such things. Turns out that I am human and still learning. Sigh. 😅

Our families can be our kryptonite, and also our greatest teachers. They provide us with the most exquisite communication opportunities. The test of all tests!

The greatest lesson I take away from this is simple, and I hope it can help you too.

Swap expectation for appreciation.

There, simple as that. Underneath all my pain was a whole host of expectations.

I failed to appreciate who my mum is, the many gifts she brings as a mother, where she is at within herself, what she wants and needs, the beauty of our relationship just as it is… The list goes on. Also I had failed to accept the what is of that particular communication context and gone into control mode. So, instead of experiencing harmony with the people I love, I found myself in a painful communication drama.

Ooops! 🙃 Even this communication coach can stumble, but I can also get back up when I remember my own advice. And here it is…

Try this 👉 If you’ve experienced a communication breakdown with someone in your family, take a moment to consider what you appreciate about them. Also, consider what you appreciate about yourself. How have you grown? What communication gifts do you already have?

This festive interlude helped me appreciate the powerful Voice-For-Life approach that Edyth and I have created together. Our approach brings you back into deep alignment with yourself and congruence with the people, places and moments you are sharing together.

It’s a complete sidestep on the usual soft-skills and fake-it-till-you-make-it approach to communication, in both speaking and writing.

If your festive period got a little fraught, you may have slipped into expectation and frustration, insecurity and inadequacy. That’s because sharing our thoughts, feelings, and complex inner worlds is no small thing. Neither is holding our boundaries and taking the new communication risks when it matters.

Aligned and connected communication starts within. Come home to yourself first.

You can attend our FREE COMMUNICATION RESET workshop on 14 Jan 2022, and experience our Voice-For-Life approach.

I’ve put together this half day workshop so that you can put your best communication foot forward as you walk into 2022. It’s packed with RESOURCES, EXERCISES and SUPPORT.

🪑 Book your place at this FREE event here (and book one for a friend too).

I’d love to hear what communication lessons you learned this festive period. Tap reply to share any lessons, questions, appreciations, or insights with me.

Love,

Thea