Learning how to express ourselves in relationship can be challenging. We often have something vital to say, yet we struggle to express it. Instead of communicating our message, we end up either misunderstood or having the other person become hurt or defensive. This can surprise us. How can they feel that way? We have the best intentions and only want to achieve greater intimacy and connection! This leads us to the question: How can we best express ourselves in a meaningful way and stay in relationship with another person?
The practice of right relations partly depends on how well we understand our own personal history and how it influences our behavior in relationship. We often tend to see others through our own culture, history, and feelings. This distorts the picture we have of the other, leaving us unable to acknowledge and genuinely respect them and, consequently, create a more fruitful working relationship.
What becomes key is our ability to relate sincerely to the person in any here-and-now situation. This means we need to pay attention to what is happening inside ourselves as well as to what the other communicates to us. Through awareness of ourselves and better understanding of the other, we are more likely to find the best fit for both of us.
In other words, when both parties try to understand the needs and interests of the other, then both will feel acknowledged and be able to better cooperate. We start doing this by seeing what actually is, rather than reacting to what we expect, fear or would like to see. When we cut through habitual patterns of defense, prejudices, expectations, and mindsets, we allow ourselves to open up to new levels of communication.
Being in the here-and-now means fully experiencing what is, and not what happened to you as a child or in your last marriage. It calls for an acceptance of what is NOW. We can do this by staying in touch with our breath, our body sensations, and using our will to inhibit ourselves from acting impulsively. Often we try to figure somebody or a situation out, but the real answer is not in our heads, but in our body and feelings, held long enough to allow solutions to emerge.
Some skills and qualities that can help you to focus your awareness in the here-and-now include:
- Being willing to accept and show your own human limitations.
- Stopping in the moment to create a gap between impulse and action.
- Checking for signals from your body, feelings, and mind.
- Gaining awareness around your own history and how past experiences are mirrored in the present.
- Learning to bare differences without fixing them.
- Sitting quietly when there is no solution.
Roberto Assagioli, psychoanalyst and founder of psychosynthesis psychology, wrote, “In actual life a relationship is always present, recognized or unrecognized, conscious or unconscious.” We are relational beings and long to be connected. Assagioli also wrote that, in fact, we are never absolutely alone, as God is always in living relationship with what is appearing in the here-and-now.
Once we open up to new stages of communication, we create new ways to freely express ourselves in an authentic way. By ultimately accepting our own and others’ differences and complexities, we can’t help but move towards joy.