Silence…Not Always Golden

(I’m not suggesting to not ‘hold your tongue’ briefly rather than use sarcasm or say something deliberately hurtful.)  I am referring to using the ‘silent treatment’.  It’s no treatment at all in the sense of restoring or dealing with a relationship…with a child, friend, partner or spouse or parent.

Long ago, a woman told me that when she did something wrong, as a child, her mother did not speak to her, for a week!  She did not always understand why her words and/or behavior, were not acceptable.  Silence was her mother’s go-to punishment. She felt unloved and, therefore, unlovable.  Many problems, in that and other relationships ensued.

We all feel upset with friends and family at times.   Ideally, we can discuss our reactions about something they said or did.  We let them know we were hurt and why.  We reach out to them to have a dialogue.  Communication fosters relationships.  If one person just drops out, the friend simply does not exist any more.  That hurts and there is no way for the discarded friend’s  thoughts and feelings to be heard.

Some couples engage in loud disputes and even throw or break things…not great. At the other end of the spectrum is silence.  Often, with couples, one person has to talk and the other keeps their feelings inside.  Disputes result in a traumatic tango…it takes two.  Something occurs between them and one partner withdraws.  The more s/he pulls back, the more the talker needs to hear and be heard.  The silent one recedes even more and the talker feels placed on the other side of a thick wall, as if s/he did not exist.

Extended silence does not resolve differences. It shuts them down so there is no way to resolve a disagreement.  Those who make up, letting the past be the past, without discussion,  move forward without understanding.  History does repeat itself, especially in relationships.  There are areas in which our personalities either “fit” or don’t fit.   Other situations will engender those differences and we need to know how to settle them in a way that enables us to move along  more  smoothly on the bumpy road of relationships.

Are you the silent one?

  • Are you silent to punish?
  • Do you feel you would lose the verbal match?
  • Are you self aware of how you feel in situations?
  • Do you prefer ‘just the facts’ briefly?                                                                      Do you dislike talking about your feelings?
  • Would you prefer to not hear details of others’ feelings?
  • Are you a man, or woman, of few words in general?
  •  Has  this  affected .your relationships?

What to do if you have answered ‘yes’ to the above.

  • Acknowledge that the above is your style.
  • If it has affected relationships, reflect.
  • Do you want to alter your response to disputes?
  • If yes, share with those with whom it is an issue.
  • Seek counseling                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   IAre you the ‘talker’ ?:
  • Try not to feel as if you don’t exist to him/her.
  • Share that you feel abandoned with extended silence.
  • Acknowledge your need to connect and share feelings.
  • Ask if s/he needs some time to gather her/his thoughts.
  • Learn if s/he prefers another way to communicate.
  • Suggest .counseling to learn  a better  way.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Extended silence is not a viable way to settle differences whether it serves as a defensive mode to protect you from a verbal onslaught or to quietly bully. It will cause more problems than it settles. Dare to share !

 

 

Coming Apart From A Narcissist?

Let me introduce you to the narcissist.  Narcissism is a personality disorder, which is a maladaptive and deeply ingrained pattern of behavior and personality style. It can develop from our genes, early childhood and teen experiences and the environment in which we are raised.   In general, the narcissist has a sense of grandiosity and entitlement which can cause him/her to be manipulative, critical, envious of others, and demanding.

Narcissists feel easily slighted, exaggerate their talents, expect special treatment, want the best of everything (because they deserve no less ! ) and are swift to blame others.They are arrogant, to various degrees, need constant attention, and lack empathy.  If they fall short, they are fragile and experience vulnerability and humiliation.  Under the bravado and charm, is a core of insecurity, often unconscious.  They look down at those they consider to be inferior.  There are legions of narcissists on our public stage  in all fields..

Are you in a relationship with someone who only seeks to fulfill his/her needs?   Does it seem that their attention to you, and others, is a means to appear giving but is more about getting attention or having their way.  Their charm may have  attracted you but, as time passes, you observe that it is superficial and geared to serving their own interests.  What is underneath that public charm is not so pleasant.  You will be told that you have stopped being interested, proud and supportive and that is why your relationship has deteriorated.  It’s never their doing. If your partner cannot recognize or acknowledge any part of their contribution, don’t expect any cooperation.  Once they can no longer seduce you into their web, they will accuse you of all the problems in the relationship (please note: we all have some input).

If you admit to some your shortcomings, and that doesn’t make any difference, it may be decision time…to stay or leave.  Such decisions are painful and deserve deep consideration.  If you cannot tolerate your situation and decide to come apart, be prepared.  Try to avoid ‘pressing’ certain buttons that may encourage more abuse.  Do not be reactive to your partner’s behavior  Focus on protecting yourself, your assets and, if applicable, the children. It will not be easy early on but eventually you will be freer to pursue your own goals.    In addition to family and friends, a counselor and good lawyer are critical supports to help you extract yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kale in My Smoothie

relationships be open and observeI don’t like kale but it seems to be so healthy, why deny myself ?  I love the banana, mango, blackberry, sometimes peanut butter, milk and other berries [depending on what’s in the refrigerator] , a great way to start the day.  One weekend visit, my cousin made a smoothie with some of the above…and kale. I watched her make it and thought “yuk” but I did taste it.  (Don’t we tell our kids, “Just try one bite” ?)  It looked nice and green and was… delicious.  I never even tasted the kale.  Now, and for years, I feel even healthier and savor it daily.

Lessons learned:

  • Observe
  • Be open to new things
  • Sample [give a chance]
  • Enjoy and benefit from the above

Can’t we say the same thing about relationships and experiences? How many times have we not gotten to know someone better because they didn’t fill some of our preconceived expectations?  Not being open to new things and people shrinks our perspective and limits our quality of life.  Giving someone new a chance to appreciate them and/or their differentness can open new horizons for us.  Possibilities are  enriching and endless.