This month is filled with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. There’s lots of coordinating between people, places and things. Miscommunication is likely to happen between family and friends. Whether it’s the hot topic of politics or playing a board game and all the little moments in between making cookies. Disagreements happen in relationships. What is important is how you choose to get through those moments. Will that disagreement bring your relationship closer or further apart?
“No, you were supposed to bring that, you never do anything that I ask!”
Silence is a form of communication that over time can drastically hurt any relationship. Taking a break from talking about something can sometimes be a helpful form of silence. However, the one I am referring to that is hurtful can be called “the cold shoulder” or “stonewalling”. This type of silence is way to never speak about the hurt or too have someone feel punished through the silence. Keeping hurt, anger and frustration inside only makes the brain and body feel more overwhelmed.
Silence can develop due to trying to keep the emotions from overloading the brain. Other times, this strategy develops because the family style tends to have high conflict and the message is we must just keep the status quo. However, inside the burning feeling of frustration, sadness and loss keeps piling on. Making your voice heard despite wanting to revert to silence is very hard.
When you’re with a person that uses silence as a way to communicate it can be difficult to break through. Our nervous system is set up in a way to protect us from danger. When your brain experiences data coming in as conflict it can turn on the alarm system which needs to fight, flight, freeze or collapse. Those responses are ways for the body to protect itself and survive what is happening. However, our perception is that this is a threat, turning our emotions off and staying silent is the way to survive. Being silent is not a strategy that works in the long run. Your brain gets flooded with so much emotion that it’s too overwhelming to speak out about the situation. This ends up creating a greater disconnect between yourself and others.
So how do you go from using silence as your way to communicate to then speaking about your hurt.
The saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” always sticks in my mind when we are talking about communication. How we talk to each other and what we say is critical to keeping open communication.
Here are some examples of statements that you can make to break the silence.
-Hey we haven’t talk in a few_____, I’ve been upset and I am not sure how to talk about it.
-I am feeling scared, I want to talk to you about this but I don’t know what to say. I don’t want us to be silent anymore.
-We are just going through each day, and talking about what everyone needs. I miss talking to you. I miss you.
-I am frustrated and I really don’t want to argue or do this silently then pretend to forget about it. I am scared about how to talk about this. I want to figure this out together.
-I know if we talk about this it will be hard, but we can do it, I care too much about us and I don’t want to go on in silence.
Maybe you are the one who often communicates, then pass this article along to someone who can benefit. Building a healthy relationship with a significant other, friend or relative takes hard work. It will feel scary at first to talk about your hurts but then a sense of relief and eventually closeness. Maybe the closeness is not with the other person but with yourself in being able to be speak your truth.
So in these next few weeks of the holiday season break the silence. Be uncomfortable. Your truth being heard in a way that is open and loving to yourself and others is a gift any relationship would enjoy.
ROSE LAPIERE, LPC, RPT-S, ACS