Beliefs that Aid Communication
The dance of communication has three steps: showing understanding; asserting your feelings, wants, and limits; and defusing abusive remarks.
If the steps of the “communication dance” are difficult for you, it may be because you are hearing the wrong music. Thoughts such as “I have to make others understand,” “My feelings aren’t important,” and “I must never appear weak or lose” are sure to make you trip. To discover any thoughts that are making you stumble, ask yourself:
Directions: Check off any of the thoughts in the left-hand column that you have in your worse moments. Then, check off the beliefs in the right-hand column that you would like to have when communication is difficult.
1. I have trouble listening because I think:
1. I can listen when I believe:
If I don’t retaliate or defend myself, I’m weak, a loser, etc.
My power comes from understanding others, not from being understood.
2. It’s difficult to express myself when I think:
2. I can express myself when I believe:
If others get upset, it’s my fault. I’m a troublemaker or difficult.
I’m responsible for my own reactions and others are responsible for theirs.
3. I can defuse abuse when I believe:
3. I have trouble defusing abuse when I think:
I can learn from mistakes.
I’m trapped, powerless, and helpless.
Identifying communication-enhancing phrases and affirming them regularly will give you the confidence you need to show understanding, express yourself effectively, and defuse verbal abuse. Surprisingly, you do not have to feel good about yourself to communicate powerfully. But the first time you take the tiniest step toward “power communication,” you will feel good about yourself.
See EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy by Francine Shapiro (Basic Books, 1997) or A Guide to Rational Living by Ellis (Wilshire Book Co., 1997) for further ideas on how thoughts affect emotions