All of us in relationships come into our union with the skills we learned growing up. Many of us might have come from homes where the problems never got solved. Some of us might even be new to even thinking about saying, “I am sorry.”
That’s how I grew up. My family was full of love and deep connections, but the display of those emotions was buried under a lot of anger and disappointment. When someone drank the milk and another family member wanted some, that person would yell, “Who drank the milk?” If someone answered, then there would be an argument about why they drank all the milk.
Our Upbringing Builds Our Habits
I didn’t learn about other ways to solve problems until I was in the outside world on my own. And it took a long time for me to understand what was underneath my rage. I just grew up knowing that if you got upset, you got mad.
What got me thinking about my habits was how many times I would crash and burn friendships and relationships. A lot of people didn’t grow up like me and couldn’t understand my behavior.
It Takes Time to Discover There’s a Better Way
My family accepted me because everyone acted in their own similar way. But as we age, we might want something different for our life. We might want some peace.
This was only an idea to me, but I know I was hungry for it. After my own personal counseling, (before I was a counselor) I started to unwind my own history. I began to understand that my anger arose because of the pain I felt.
We May Not Even Realize Something’s Wrong
I didn’t know I was suffering, until I learned that I grew up missing some experiences. There was a lot of disruption in the family and no healing.
This insight helped me understand me. It also led me to soften my anger and to try and understand my feelings instead of lashing out. Now this process of understanding feelings is very delicate and for some of us it takes a while. But this I guarantee, it is so worth it.
Self-Care and Apologizing Make All the Difference
To have feelings and take care of ourselves is the greatest feeling of freedom and peace I can find. When I trust that the people who care about me want to know what is happening to me. I have learned to trust that they do and when I reveal in a way they can hear me, I always get healed.
Oh yeah, and something else happened. I started to see how my behavior when I was too big or too upset impacted the people I loved. And this made me think of how I could heal this, instead of running away like I used to.
And that is where I learned to say, “I am sorry I said what I said.” “I am sorry I couldn’t talk with you when I was mad.” I am sorry I hurt your feelings.”
I lose NOTHING when I say these words. And what I gain is the best thing ever. A re-connection with people I care about.
Improve Your Communication and Apologies
Read a Book About Relationships
Learn how to soften your communication, by reading Linda’s book Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help you apologize and mend things after running into moments of conflict. Give it a read.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.
[Heading image by Riccardo Mion.]