Existential Psychology

Communication Patterns

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Lots of close relationships become defined by toxic communication patterns, by hurtful comments and thoughtless remarks, causing psychological and emotional pain. More often then not everyone involved would like the situation to change but they feel stuck, and despite their best efforts continue to engage in harmful cycles of communication. It’s easy to be positive when everything is going great, but it’s much harder to be positive in the face of negativity, especially when this negativity is directed towards our personalities and actions. When we feel threatened or wronged our first instinct is often to lash out, fighting back with hostile words or hostile actions to protect ourselves.

Doing so can make us feel powerful in the moment but usually leads to negative consequences. A way to increase the feeling of individual power if you are feeling powerless to positively influence a close relationship that has become defined by hurt and negativity is to start by writing a letter. Take a few days on it, and make sure that every word is filled with compassion and love. Maybe talk about how you have both been suffering, and that you want this suffering to end. Have people you trust take a look at it to help you make sure your words are kind, that they are free from hostility or blame. Switching from verbal communication to written communication gives you the necessary time and space to put your thoughts in order and present the best version of what you really need to say. This letter acts as a tangible, powerful starting point of a global decision to focus on love, positivity, and growth in your life.

Chances are this letter will positively influence your relationship, that its recipient will be moved by your words of love. But from an existential point of view it doesn’t really matter. What matters is your choice to be a loving person and to embody the values that matter to you regardless of the harmful inputs from your environment.

Sometimes people get a negative, thoughtless answer, but they usually still feel good about the experience because they no longer feel compelled to protect their emotional integrity with more words of negativity or thoughtlessness. They don’t need external validation because they have become internally quite sure of the course they have set for themselves. Hurtful comments don’t hold the same power over us when we have decided to be loving people. We know in our bones through our words and actions that our goals are positivity and love, so we have no reason to take seriously the negative things that are said about us. We start to situate these comments where they belong, which is within the person who makes them, seeing them as unconscious projections. They act as evidence of suffering and as a plea for help.

Our actions are the ground upon which we stand. We can’t control how others respond to us, but we can make sure that we communicate in a way that is loving and focused on growth. People in your life who have grown accustomed to negative interactions with you might not pick up on your change at first, but like we said earlier it doesn’t matter. The truth is the truth, and false perceptions do not diminish it. The only thing you have to worry about is embodying love and positivity even in the face of negativity, and your perspective and attitude will become more peaceful and positive regardless of what others say or do.