A. Really Listening (with both ears, your head, your heart and your gut)
This step refers to the fact that we tend to be thinking about our next point, or how best to argue whatever it is that the other is saying, instead of listening. So we have to learn how to really listen. And not only with our ears, but also with our three brains (see also my article Introducing Our Second and Third Brains: We Do Think With Our Heart and Instinct ), which means we listen with our rational brain (the one in our skull), our instinctual or intuitive brain (the one in our gut), and our feeling brain (the one in our heart). As a matter of fact, since I first wrote that article in 2006 as one of my monthly newsletters, before re-posting it here on the blog in 2008, much more has been uncovered about the differing brains in our bodies - scientists now affirm that our entire body is a brain, each and every cell passing information to the whole. See the talk below by Deepak Chopra about this subject.
So of course if you listen with your entire self you will not be distracted by your thoughts of how best to answer, but will focus on your desire to understand what your partner is telling you instead. Then you can consider how best to answer. But in the meantime you will have created a much better opportunity for understanding what your partner is attempting to communicate, as opposed to merely trying to come up with a better argument on your side. And even if that is not what you do, perhaps you are still not truly hearing because you do not allow yourself to feel what the words are trying to get across because your rational brain is so busy being rational.
B. Boundaries (Not just yours --- also your partner's)
When we talk about boundaries in relationships we typically are talking about our own. About the fact that our partner does not respect them. And about the fact that our partner does not listen to us when we attempt to communicate that our boundaries are being transgressed and that this is having a negative impact on the relationship and even on our love for our partner. I've written numerous articles about the subject which you can see here on my website , but what I would like to reiterate is that when you lay out the perimeter of a boundary, you can not expect that it will be respected, if you do not also lay out a consequence that you are prepared to impose if the boundary is not respected.
But there is a second part to boundaries: those that we trangress. In other words, if we have poor boundaries and allow our partner to step over them, we probably also step over theirs, at least in some way. So as you learn to create respect for your own boundaries in the way your partner treats you, you must also observe your own treatment of your partner's boundaries.
C. Loving Yourself --- In Order to Better Love Your Partner
This is another subject you can find numerous articles about on the above-cited website. Suffice it to say: if you do not love yourself properly, you will have a difficult time loving your partner properly. Loving yourself properly is hugely related to what you do inside yourself when you feel bad, down, depressed, worried, stressed, unhappy, etc. Real love has a lot to do with understanding that one of the reasons the relationship exists is in order to help you grow ... you, and your partner. The growth process that comes about through relationship comes in part with the realization that we are all responsible for ourselves, and not for the other. But in like fashion, the other is NOT responsible for our happiness and well-being.
Paying attention to these three steps will move you greatly in the direction of highly improved communicaton. Just remember: it's never about fixing the other - it's about looking at yourself and taking care of what needs 'fixing' there.
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