The Happiest Lives Podcast

E9: Why Conversations Are Hard

June 30, 2023 Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC Season 2023 Episode 9
The Happiest Lives Podcast
E9: Why Conversations Are Hard
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This episode is part of The Better Conversations series. We have the amazing opportunity and capacity to exchange thoughts and feelings with others.  However, sometimes conversations don't go as planned,  and we decide that conversations can be hard. In this episode, I tell you the ONE reason your conversations are hard and give you three tips for creating Better Conversations.

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Speaker 1:

You are listening to the Happiest Lives Podcast with Jill Lillard, episode number nine. Welcome to the Happiest Lives Podcast, where you'll learn to think better, feel better and become the woman God says you already are. Here's your host, jill Lillard. Hello everyone, and welcome back to the podcast. This week we are talking about why conversations are hard, and this is part of a series I'm doing all month called Better Conversations. So if you are a human being listening to me right now and you are then you can understand. We can have a conversation here Now. Your dog might be listening, because mine is but they don't have that capacity like we do to connect by sharing information, sharing thoughts and sharing emotions, and so a conversation is exchanging different thoughts and feelings with another person. We're sharing information, but we're also sharing our thoughts about that information And we are sharing the emotion that is coming up with us, and maybe we're empathizing and connecting with somebody else's emotion or we're resisting their emotion. Our thoughts are going to include all of our ideas, our assessments, our opinions. We can share our desires and wants with another person, and so it's so exciting. I think it's pretty amazing that we have this capacity as humans to connect on this higher level of understanding, and it's not just intellectual, it is emotional. So the real reason that conversations is hard is because it is emotional, because we have emotions. Now the solution is not to become unemotional. We don't want to be a chatbot. We don't want to be a robot conversing with another human being, and yet so many of us have learned to detach emotionally, to numb out our feelings. We choose behaviors that numb things so that we don't hurt so badly, with different distractions and buffers, so that we can resist that negativity. But when we're blocking out the negative, we're also blocking out the positive. We're disconnecting from ourselves And therefore we're also disconnecting from other people. We aren't feeling as much pain, but we're also not feeling as much joy, and so we want to be able to approach emotions in a way that we're not afraid of them. Emotions are harmless. They cannot hurt us. It's how we respond to our emotions that really causes the problems that we start experiencing in our life. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you have a feeling. So when a feeling comes up and you're able to experience it, then you're able to leverage your emotions so that you can create deeper connections, and so all the feelings aren't going to feel great. You may not want to have all of them, but when you are willing to have those, without resisting them or reacting to them, you're going to be able to stay connected and have better conversations and create that space for deeper connection and intimacy. Sometimes, when we experience conflict and maybe it's been an ongoing thing in our relationship rather than fighting we will just take on the thought it's better to deal with this on my own, and then you turn away and deal with it on your own, and so you feel like things are better because the conflict is less, but you start feeling really distant, lonely, isolated. That's that cascade of distance, loneliness and isolation, and so you're no longer really having those conversations or connecting in a meaningful way. And we want to be able to connect in a meaningful way. Okay, so dealing with things on your own is not the solution. We have to find another way to connect. We don't want to fight, but we don't want to disconnect, and so we have to learn how to feel our feelings, process through those, not react to them, and be able to create space for another person's feelings. When we're able to do that, then we can find ways to connect even when we have those topics that bring up thoughts for us that trigger us emotionally. So some of us are more proficient with our words, it's easier for us to communicate and share our thoughts and feelings and we can access those things and we're able to share those better with others. And some of us have a harder time with that. Some of us are less wordy. We're not even sure what we're thinking, our feeling. We're less conversational. Some of us are good listeners. Some of us aren't so great listeners. We have to work on honing those gifts, those skill sets, to be able to listen better and to be able to share better. So I'm not trying to change your personality You don't need to be someone that you're not But just being more self-aware and opening yourself up to the capacity to see the value of conversations and becoming aware of the role that emotions play in your conversations can go a long way in deepening your connections with others. We want to be emotionally open. If you want those deeper connections, you want to be more aware of your own emotions. If you want more intimate connections with other people, then you want to be able to have intimate conversations, and the only way you'll be able to do this is to be willing to feel so that you can navigate through any of the emotions that are going to come up for you, and so I want to give you three tips related to feelings today That are going to help you have better conversations. The first one is you can change your thoughts about the other person and the conversation, and when you change your thoughts, it is going to change your experience. It's going to change the way you feel and the way that you're showing up. So if you're going into a conversation, or maybe you had a conversation and you said something to them and they didn't acknowledge it, your brain might take in that information and then you assess it and think my thoughts and feelings, they just, they don't matter, he doesn't care, he doesn't love me, and you end up feeling really hurt. You might get angry, you might shut down and withdraw. He may make a bid to connect later and, oblivious to the fact that your feelings are hurt, and then you might be ignoring his bid to connect And so you're disconnecting from him, and the result is that you end up creating a result that you're not, a result that his thoughts and feelings don't matter to you. So you mirror what you have been perceiving. But that thought my thoughts and feelings don't matter is optional And it probably is not serving you in any capacity. It makes you feel terrible And it ends up creating this results that you find the evidence of that, or that his thoughts and feelings don't matter to you, and you keep perpetuating the same evidence repeatedly because your brain is looking for that. So there's no upside to thinking your thoughts and feelings don't matter. So I would offer you the thought that your thoughts and feelings do matter And if that feels like too big of a leap, you could add on it's possible that my thoughts and feelings do matter. When you redirect your brain in that way, you are going to go into the conversation feeling validated. You're going to feel calmer, maybe a little bit more secure or loved. When I think my thoughts and feelings matter, i feel calm, and when I feel calm, i find evidence that my thoughts and feelings do matter. Just because my husband doesn't show up how I hoped he would and he didn't respond or follow the script the way that I think he should, it doesn't mean that my thoughts and feelings don't matter to him. It could be that he's just doing his best, that he's being a little clueless At that point and not really aware of how his actions are affecting me, and I don't always show up perfectly, so I don't expect that he has to always show up perfectly. So if I take on the thought that my thoughts and feelings do matter, i'm going to feel calmer and I keep an open posture. I continue to make bids to connect, i respond to his bids to connect and I'm warmer. Then I may even share my thoughts and feelings with him. I might turn toward him and say hey, you know, earlier today, when I was telling you about what happened in the situation at work, i was telling you this story and you didn't even look up for your phone and then you walked off. You didn't even verbally acknowledge me. I started to think that my thoughts and feelings didn't matter to you and I felt really hurt. Sharing that from an energy of feeling calm is very different than if you would have shared that from the place of hurt. When you're in the hurt and you're speaking from the hurt and reacting from the hurt or the anger, then when you share your thoughts and feelings and your experience, you may go into attack mode, a critical mode. You might start wagging your finger and saying all the things, but notice how I, when I said how I might say that, how I might share that from a place of calm, that I expressed the facts Hey, here's what happened. Then I shared my thought. This is what I made it mean, and I shared how I was feeling. I took ownership of my thoughts and feelings as I observed the facts and put those on the table. You are simply turning toward the other person to deepen understanding, but that conversation is being fueled with a calm energy because you're believing, hey, my thoughts and feelings do matter. So if you want to have better conversations, you can change your thoughts about the other person and the conversation And, in turn, you will generate an emotion that is going to serve you better. A second tip is learning how to let your feelings be there without reacting to them or resisting them. Okay, so I think the way you handle your emotions, that's the same way you're responding to somebody else's emotions. I see it in couples therapy all the time. The way we react to our partner's emotions, it's really just a reflection of how we are even responding to our own emotions. So, even though I'm talking about how we can offer ourselves other, optional ways of thinking that will make us feel better. I'm not talking about dismissing your thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts and feelings are valid. I'm not talking about even thought-swapping to get rid of the negative emotions. You want to be willing to feel anything, and when we're resisting those negative emotions because it's uncomfortable and we're trying to turn them off or dismiss them, we don't want to acknowledge them then we are disconnecting. We are disconnecting from ourselves. We're going to end up disconnecting from the other person. We're going to not be very responsive, we're going to be dismissive about their emotions, and so that isn't really going to serve us. I remember a situation years ago and my son was in middle school and he was messing with his school ID. It was on a lanyard And he was getting very frustrated with the lanyard because he couldn't get his ID on there. And so I was on the other side of the room watching this and my husband was next to him getting ready to take him to school, and as he got frustrated with his lanyard, he was thinking that it should be behaving differently than it was, that it should be cooperating. My husband started getting frustrated with my son, thinking that he shouldn't be getting frustrated with his lanyard And I'm on the other side of the room and I see my husband getting frustrated with my son, thinking my son shouldn't be getting frustrated, and then my son being frustrated with his lanyard and I'm thinking that my husband shouldn't be getting frustrated, that my son is frustrated. So do you see the domino effect here? The mere fact that we all start doing the same thing? We start resisting the other person and thinking maybe they shouldn't be so emotional, but then we become emotional and start really doing the same thing. When we think people shouldn't be behaving a certain way or feeling a certain way and we resist it, then we kind of hop into the same pool of their emotional experience, which is not effective, it's not helpful, it's not helping us empathize with the situation. Empathizing with the situation is entirely different than getting in and kind of playing tug-of-war with what's actually going on. When other people express emotions and we become really emotional, it's not about the other person's emotions. We are becoming emotional because we are having a thought about their feelings and that's making us feel a certain way. And so we think the way to control it is to control the other person and control their emotions, when really the way to experience it is to manage our own emotions, to be aware of what we're thinking and why we're feeling the way we are, and then we can relax into whatever that feeling is, rather than reacting to it and trying to resist it. When you learn how to let feelings be there without reacting or resisting, you will make room for better conversations, because you will create space for people to express feelings and process their way through those feelings, and you can process any feeling because you're not trying to outrun it as though it's dangerous. It's the resisting, the reacting to the emotion that gets us in trouble, not the feeling itself. So the third tip for being able to have better conversations is being able to learn from regrettable conversations. So if you had a conversation that did not go well, oftentimes we might feel really bad about the conversation. We'll feel disappointed in the conversation. We may blame ourselves, we may beat ourselves up or we may blame the other person for how they showed up. We might find evidence that it wasn't a good idea to have the conversation, that we should have dealt with it on our own, and we're never going to do that again. Rather than learning from what just happened, learning from the conversation What went well, what didn't go well? How did I show up in the conversation? Why did I show up that way? What was I thinking? What was I feeling? Then you can learn from the conversation When you ask those questions. You are learning from what happened And you can keep having conversations that aren't perfect, but they are growth opportunities. In all my coaching programs, we use a process called the HeartScan And it helps you do everything I discussed in today's lesson Being able to expose and look at what you are thinking about a situation, how you're feeling, how you're showing up, what result is this creating for you? and then asking is this serving me? And then being able to renew that and see how you might think differently about it and create a new result. What else is possible? How do I want to show up? What result do I want to create? How do I want to feel in this situation? And then being able to engage, to feel anything, to feel the feeling in a way that is calm and curious, as opposed to closed off. In fact, the fourth part of doing HeartScan is being able to press on and take action despite unwanted emotions, and so this process of HeartScanning can help you have better conversations, because it can help you look at what happened, what's going on in your conversations. A lot of times we can have a fear model and a freedom model, a way that we're having a conversation that is either based on fear or freedom. Maybe it's coming from our pride or judgment. I think those are all different ways. Fear will manifest itself, and so we can also have a conversation based on freedom, which is fueled by compassion, humility, empathy, kindness. My goal for you is to be able to have better conversations, and the reason that your conversations are hard is because you have feelings And I want you to keep having feelings. I want you to feel all the feelings more and more and in a way that you're not resisting those feelings and you're not reacting from those feelings. Rather, you are leveraging your emotions to have better relationships and conversations, and we can do this by examining our thoughts and determining if they're serving us and if they're creating the emotions we want to bring into the conversations. We can do this by being willing to feel anything and being able to pause and feel our emotions, when we are able to learn from the conversations that didn't go well and take that information so that we can apply what we learned and have better conversations, then we are on the right track. Thank you, guys, for joining me today. I can't wait to talk to you again next week as we continue this conversation.

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