- Tell others what you think, feel and want, and
- Ask others what they think, feel and want.
Two things which get in the way of improving feelings and relationships are:
- "People should know what I really feel and want"
- "It is a weakness to show how you feel and think" (when there is a problem).
The reality is that others do not know what you think and feel; they might not even realize they are upsetting you, especially if you smile to cover your hurt. And they do not know what you want unless you tell them.
If people know what you think, feel and want without your telling them, then they must be reading your mind. If you know what others feel, think and want without their telling you, you must be reading their minds. If the previous two statements are true, then we must be terrible mind readers. Think of the spouse who suddenly leaves the other. The other is amazed to hear that their husband or wife wasn't happy. They thought everything was fine! Clearly the mind reading wasn't working very well! Unfortunately they did not tell each other what they thought, felt and wanted. And they did not ask the other what they felt, thought and wanted!
We expect others to tell us what they fell, think and want. But we can ask them. And we cannot expect others to ask us what we think, feel and want, but we can tell them.
Of course, there are times to be silent. We would not continually express what we think, feel and want about every little thing. But our modern society could do better if we stopped hallucinating what others think, feel and want, and asked them; and if we stopped expecting others to read our minds, and said what we thought, felt and wanted. It is a matter of good communication, and communication is the solvent of all problems.
As children we expected our parents to know what we thought, felt and wanted. Mothers have to hallucinate what their babies think, feel and want (because babies do not have language.) Yet how many people claim that their parents did not understand them; didn't know what they thought, felt and wanted - how they 'Always got it wrong!' How many children (of any age) do not understand their parents?
Just to ram this thought home, people do not know what you think, feel or want unless you tell them. You do not know what others think, feel or want, unless you ask them. So in future, don't hallucinate about what others think and feel about something, ask them. And don't expect others to hallucinate what you think and feel, tell them!
The psychologist Nathaniel Branden developed a technique called Sentence Completion, to help his clients uncover and communicate their true feelings, that previously were suppressed. This denial of feelings and true wishes or desires occurs because of fear that acting on them or communicating them will bring scorn or ridicule - in short, will upset the apple cart. But to continue suppressing what one truly wants is to die inside, to lose integrity.
In the following exercise, which is done with a partner, ensure that previous exercises are still being practiced, i.e. that both of you are comfortably being and accepting what is, without going into a reactive mode; that you communicate with adequate intention to reach and be understood clearly; that you always obtain an answer to your question, and acknowledge the answer.
Would you like to have more meaningful relationships?
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Continue to the next page, Exercise 6: Sentence Completions