Individual Personal Evolution through Confrontation, Conflict and Communication Style in Relationships

Whenever someone else triggers us, it gives us a unique opportunity. It provides us with a perspective from which to examine ourselves so that we can come to know and understand ourselves better. We feel affronted when someone expresses a trait, quality or behavior that reminding us of our own unloved, disowned and dissociated traits, qualities and behaviors. This reaction is especially vigorous in significant relationships and with the people who are closest to us. The communication style we choose to use in response tells us about how well we are dealing with being triggered and where we are on our journey of personal evolution.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung

People as Mirrors of Ourselves

Those around us act as reflections of us because we see the world not as it really is, but as we are. They enable us to see deeply into our own nature and our identity or persona. No man or woman is an island. Without being able to see ourselves reflected in others, we would have no reference to give us direction to grow. Individual growth and personal evolution would be impossible. In order to be authentic with ourselves and with others, we need to at least express whatever others trigger in us. It provides them with the greatest opportunity to learn more deeply about themselves and their own dissociated parts of their nature. It also tells us all about our understanding of our own human nature and of our assumed identity. The idea that in order to be more spiritually evolved we should try to be polite and kind in our interactions with others is flawed. That would be inauthentic and conter-productive for growth. Being triggered points to the parts of our human nature which we have thus far been unable to accept and appreciate, resulting in them being disowned and dissociated from our complete idea of ourselves.

Each individual interacts differently with each other individual because we draw out of each other the traits, qualities and behaviors that will provide the greatest opportunities for our growth and evolution. What this means is that the labels which we so liberally apply to others are incorrect.

The 3 Basic Communication Styles

power struggleThere are different ways of approaching being authentic about what we’re feeling and how we express it, not all of which are likely to produce an amicable response. These expressions can range from the one extreme of carelessness through caring to the opposite extreme of carefulness. Carelessness, being egocentric, will produce egocentric responses like resentment and resistance in our partner. Carefulness, which is also egocentric, will draw from others the egocentric tendency to dominate and overpower. Self-righteousness produces carelessness, often expressed as aggression ranging from demands to threats and even violence. Self-minimization produces carefulness, characterized by avoidance and submission. Self-minimization is the result of poor self-worth and the accompanying underlying fear of offending someone and losing their respect or even losing them altogether. Empowered equality inspires a caring attitude and approach, where we express our needs without infringing on the right of others to have their own needs met too.

 

Attitude and Communication Style

The central column in the table image depicts the ideal attitude and style of communication where we have accepted our partner for who they are, as they are. From a foundation of equality we are able to express our point of view without imposing it on our partner and expecting them to change, but rather in the hopes that we both may come to understand ourselves and each other better. The left side of the table represents communication from a self righteous domineering stance, while the right side represents communication from a self minimizing submissive stance. Interestingly, in juvenile and codependent relationships the two extremes are always found together, where each partner expresses one of the extremes, either consistently, or both partners flipping between the two extremes, being careless and careful.

 

In Summary

Are you able to see, as described in the first and second paragraphs, how those around you are providing you with an opportunity to see yourself in more detail? If not then it may be time to stop and reflect on your daily interactions, especially those with your romantic partner.

Are you able to identify which overall attitude and communication style you employ with those around you, especially your romantic partner and in your other significant relationships? If you find you are sometimes out of balance and operating in a careless or careful style, it may be helpful to read our article on how to love yourself more. It offers a powerful method of coming to terms with your human nature and re-integrating the dissociated parts of our persona that constitute our shadow self.