Codependents Learning to Communicate Needs in Relationships

Communication

Part of having successful relationships is learning to communicate clearly, directly, and assertively. Effective communication is the key to getting what we need and want and to having satisfying relationships with others. This is especially important when acknowledging feelings such as disappointment or anger directly, as what we need and want can be very important in our love relationship. Also, having positive relationships  and addressing codependency issues are important in keeping stress down, reducing tension, and increasing positive experiences.  What is codependency in relationships?

Codependents are people who find it difficult to ask for what they need or to stand up for themselves and often let other people push them around or take advantage. They are unable to make up their mind and may evade an issue in conversation.  This communication style can make a codependent attractive to an abuser.  Signs of an abusive person is someone who talks over people, expresses feelings in a way that violates boundaries, and who makes inappropriate demands.  During an argument this person intimidates with piercing eye contact, takes an overbearing posture, makes “you” statements in a loud voice with demanding tones, and interrupts often.  And you do not have to allow their coercive demands to control the course of your life. You have the power to live your own life by not letting the demands of others control you.

Effective communication involves acknowledging feelings directly, instead of making others guess at your feelings or having your feelings come out in other ways. In most situations direct communication is the appropriate choice. However, if you are communicating with someone who is yelling, you might be more reactive by indirectly expressing angry feelings instead of openly addressing them. This creates a disconnect between what you say and what you do. Your true feelings end up being demonstrated through actions, not words.  Many codependents protect themselves from seeing things that are too painful in addictions, (alcoholism, food, sex, gambling) compulsive caretaking, feeling miserable, guilty or ashamed.  It is okay to say no to people when that is what you want. Denying feelings does not stop pain or compulsive behavior.

Being vulnerable can be frightening, especially if we have lived with people who abused, mistreated, manipulated, or did not appreciate us. By recognizing that our rights and needs are just as important as others, we learn to be direct and clear in our statements and behaviors. We use words to forge a closer connection. We disclose how we feel in a way that reflects self-responsibility, directness, and honesty. Repressing thoughts and feelings does not turn us into the person we want to be.  Give yourself permission to say what you want and stop when you are done. Codependents are usually good at respecting other people’s opinions and needs, but do not have respect for their own. You can learn new behaviors and break demeaning beliefs about yourself that can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Following are suggestions for assertive communication and how to resolve conflict in relationships:

Describe issues clearly and concisely. Let the other person know your concerns. Don’t beat around the bush. Take responsibility for what you want or don’t want and ask for it directly.

Take the initiative in bringing a topic up and show the other person that you respect your own needs.

Keep your focus on the matter at hand without getting diverted onto other issues.

Make good eye contact and face the person you’re speaking with, but don’t invade their personal space.

Speak firmly, positively and loudly enough to be heard.

Match your words with your true needs.

Bring up the issue with confidence.

Avoid attacking, threatening, or judgmental statements.

Be fair, truthful, and stick to your values.

Maintain a posture and attitude of equality.

Don’t apologize for your needs. Don’t expect people to apologize for their needs.

Use “I” statements: When you yelled at me, I felt disrespected. I need you to express  your feelings without yelling.

Talk ABOUT feelings, rather than act them out.

Edit unnecessary negative content.

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Thank you for reading my post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to express needs and put an end to relationship abuse.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

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