Relationship Advice Tips by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
you are open for understanding then close up when you are judged or made to change
Photographs copyright, Jeanette Raymond,, Ph.D.
Isn’t it frustrating when your friends and loved ones tell you they understand where you are coming from, while continuing to press you to change?
Remember how your loved ones offer words of understanding with one breath yet show impatience with you in the next?
You probably feel anything but understood in these mind boggling moments.
You may feel hurt, irritated and betrayed by these contradictory messages.
The same thing happens so often that you find yourself yelling, “No you don’t understand!” with a force that stops your loved ones from repeating the cliché!
You make sure you don’t buy into their well-meaning half-truths, and your friends and loved ones back off, feeling rejected and weary about trying to be supportive in the future.
So what goes wrong when you want understanding, your loved ones seem to offer it, but you experience a slap in the face?
You want something that demonstrates that understanding. You want evidence.
The evidence you want is acceptance.
You want your friends and loved ones to understand you by accepting how you feel, not take it away.
You want acceptance, not approval, not disapproval or endorsement.
You don’t want just an intellectual “I get it.!” You want a more complete response.
You want acceptance of your mood, not be cajoled to cheer up. If you have to alter your emotional state it feels like you are taking care of friends and loved ones instead on them taking care of you.
You want acceptance that you are in a predicament instead of telling you all the ways in which you could have avoided it – that “I told you so!” routine.
You want acceptance that you are where you are, not blame, shame or advice to start the game again.
Acceptance is the first and most important aspect of feeling understood.
Acceptance makes you feel okay about yourself when you most need it.
Acceptance reduces the stress that your bad feelings induce.
Acceptance makes you feel safe enough to make room to hear other things and correct any plans and strategies you have created.
Acceptance makes you feel worthwhile because no matter how bad your situation, your loved ones are not abandoning you.
Without acceptance there is no feeling of being understood.
The need for acceptance is what leads people to therapy. In therapy you are likely to find acceptance, safety and trust that allows you to figure out if, how and when you would like to change your life.
Acceptance is step one of feeling understood. In the next part of this series of articles on ‘understanding’ loved ones’ I’ll tell you about the second core element.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have while reading the article or subsequently. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.