By Katie & Gay Hendricks
Here’s something you’ve probably never considered…
There’s a conversation you’re having every day, sometimes several times a day, that may be creating distance between you and those you love.
In some cases, this conversation may be partly to blame for many failed relationships and friendships gone awry.
If it is, you’re not alone. Many of us don’t even realize that the way we handle casual conversation is actually pushing people away instead of inviting them to be close.
Here’s what I mean…
If you ask someone important to you, “How are you doing today? ”
And they respond, “I’m really feeling stressed. ”
What would you typically say next?
Would you tell them:
You’ll feel better tomorrow.
I was stressed last week, too. Let me tell you what happened…
You’re always stressed!
You may mean well by being reassuring. You may not intend to be dismissive by reminding them how often they complain. When you change the subject toward yourself, maybe you’re just trying to “relate. ”
But when someone tells you how they’re feeling and you either dismiss, minimize or change the subject, what you’re really doing is essentially (although unintentionally) communicating:
I’m not interested in you or how you’re feeling.
What most people want from a relationship is to be acknowledged, and more specifically, to have their feelings acknowledged.
When you inadvertently ignore a loved one’s feelings, it is destructive to your relationship.
In the future, that person may not want to discuss anything heart-felt with you because they will assume that you don’t want to hear about it.
No one likes to feel like an annoyance. They’ll say they’re “Fine, ” even when they’re far from feeling fine.
And it only gets worse from there.
Over time, they will start to pull away.
They won’t come to you to share anything of significance.
They won’t trust you with their innermost thoughts.
They’ll avoid having anything but the most shallow conversation with you.
Before you know it, they’ll stop calling or coming by, and you’ll be left wondering what happened to your relationship.
There’s a little-known secret to having more intimacy in your life:
Your ability to create more love and good feelings between you and another person begins with knowing how to handle the “feeling moment” when it comes up.
The “feeling moment” is when your loved one shares how they’re feeling with you.
Statements like: “I’m feeling tired/cranky/a little pissed/not myself today” are moments of vulnerability and really good opportunities for you to either grow in closeness… or retreat by turning away, even if subtly.
Here’s the other part of the secret: Most people don’t want you to solve their problem or cheer them up. They want their feelings acknowledged.
When you acknowledge a person’s feelings, they sense that you really see them for who they are and care about what they’re going through. They feel accepted. This invites them to open up, relax and trust you.
When you dismiss or minimize their feelings, you’re inviting them to go elsewhere for true love or intimacy.
And this may all relate back to why some of your friendships seem to disconnect, why you’re not particularly close with certain family members and why you’re not experiencing a “soul mate” kind of romance.
After reading this article, you may recognize that you’ve pushed intimacy away without intending to do so, and maybe now you’re wondering how you can repair the damage and get close again.
I have some very good news: You are never more than ten seconds away from a breakthrough in this important area of your life, no matter how many years you’ve spent unintentionally pushing others away.
I base this news on careful study of more than three thousand sessions in which real people healed real relationship problems. When I videotaped these sessions and timed the moment I observed the breakthrough taking place, I concluded that in most cases, it took less than ten seconds.
That’s when I knew I had discovered something profound that was worth sharing far and wide.
When you subscribe to our free relationship advice newsletter, we’ll tell you more about these “10-Second windows of opportunity” – along with unexpected and practical ways to inject more intimacy and connection into every relationship. You’ll learn:
You have the power to create and enjoy deeply intimate relationships. The next time someone close to you shares a feeling with you, simply acknowledge the feeling. Then watch the magic unfold.