Relationships usually start out great. People treat each other with love and respect. Then something happens and we get upset.
When you are upset at someone, you can’t be with the person. There are a million miles of distance between you and the person you are upset with.
Before long, you get upset again and create more distance. Then you get upset again and create even more distance. As time goes on, the distance grows and the love gets buried, distance by distance.
Eventually, there is so much distance in your relationship that you feel uncomfortable. It looks like you just don’t love the person anymore, but the love that was present at the height of your relationship is still there. it’s just buried by all the distance.
As this distance grows, you become defensive, critical and quick to anger. Upsets become more frequent and more severe. You create more and more distance. Soon the relationship that began as a dream turns into a nightmare.
This is the course of most relationships. They start out great and then go downhill. Then we get a new relationship and start the process all over again.
If you want to be effective in your relationships, you need to learn how to remove the distance. This is the key to maintaining love.
The most effective way to remove distance is to communicate your upsets. Say what you are upset about. Get it off your chest.
The moment you communicate your upset, the upset loses power. The distance disappears and the experience of love returns.
Look at the times in your life when you’ve been upset and communicated it. Notice what happened to the upset after you got it off your chest. It disappeared. Now notice what happened to the distance. It disappeared as well.
Communication is the key to removing distance.
Unfortunately, we’ve been taught to communicate in a way that, instead of removing distance, creates more of it.
Instead of communicating for the purpose of restoring love, we communicate for the purpose of blaming, attacking, being right or changing someone.
The moment you do this, you put the other person on the defensive. That person then gets upset and has to fight to protect him or herself from you. Then you get even more upset. Without knowing, you fuel the conflict and create more distance.
You quickly learn that it’s not safe to communicate your upsets. it’s better to just keep them inside.
Well, the problem isn’t in communicating your upsets, it’s in how you do it.
If you really want to remove distance in your relationship, you need to communicate in a way that doesn’t create more upset.
You do this by making sure your communication isn’t threatening to the other person. Don’t give the other person anything to resist. Make it safe for the person to hear what you have to say. Don’t put him or her on the defensive.
Communicate for the purpose of removing distance and restoring love. Don’t communicate for the purpose of blaming, attacking, being right or changing someone.
Take your full 100% responsibility for what happened and for your being upset about it. don’t blame the other person unless you want to argue.
The best way to communicate an upset is to find the hurt that’s under your upset and communicate that.
Instead of saying What’s wrong with you? Why did you do that to me? put the focus on your hurt. Say, You did what you did, and I feel sad. I feel invalidated and I feel like you don’t love me anymore
Put the focus on yourself, not on what the other person did.
Besides, it’s your upset. When you blame the other person for your upset, you get to keep it. When you take full responsibility for your upset, you can let it go.
The question for you is this: What are you really committed to? Are you committed to removing distance, restoring love and having your relationship work, or are you committed to blaming, attacking, being right and changing the person?
The choice is yours. You can have resistance or you can have love. You can’t have both.
If your commitment is to remove the distance and have your relationship work, there is a lot you can do.
You can start by finding the distance and removing it.
Distance is created by withholding something. Usually it’s a bottom-line communication. I’m angry that you didn’t keep your promise, or I’m sad that you don’t love me anymore.
Once the communication is made, the withholding stops. The upset is released and the distance disappears.
To find what you are withholding, imagine the other person being in front of you. Then look at what is between you and that person. What are you upset about? What is the distance?
Find what you need to say and then say it. Start from the beginning of your relationship and get everything said.
Before you start though, make sure you create an environment that’s safe for communication. Make sure you let go of any resistance you may have towards the other person.
Then tell the person that there are some things that you want to say to remove the distance. Ask him or her to just listen. Then, say whatever you need to say.
If the person starts resisting you, stop and notice how you are communicating. You are either blaming or trying to change the person. Don’t do that.
If the only way you can communicate an upset is by blaming, warn the person first so that he or she won’t take it so personally.
Once you’ve said everything that you want to say, let the other person respond. Let the person say everything that he or she is upset about. Pull the upsets out.
The more the other person can release his or her upsets, the more that person will be able to express his or her love for you.
The key to removing distance is to get everything said. Get it off your chest. Just make sure the other person feels loved, accepted and appreciated in the process.
This article was taken from the book, How To Heal A Painful Relationship.
Bill Ferguson has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and on hundreds of radio and television talk shows across the country. He has led over 2,500 workshops and has worked with thousands of people. His books, How To Heal A Painful Relationship, Heal The Hurt That Runs Your Life and Miracles are Guaranteed, have become best-sellers. He presently leads workshops in the Houston area and does individual consulting by telephone. He can be reached at (713) 520-5370 or on the internet at http://www.effectiveliving.com.