• Keeping Compassion at the Heart of Your Relationships

    This article is about Keeping Compassion at the Heart of Your Relationships

    Being compassionate in your relationship doesn’t mean that you have to agree, but it does mean that you will feel like you are on the same side.

    Consider a time when you have been faced with an angry partner.  You may have shouted back, defended yourself, or perhaps walked away in silence to avoid the conflict.  All of these reactions can unfortunately send the message, ‘you are wrong to be angry’ and may leave your partner feeling even more defensive or angry. It is likely in fact that you will both end up feeling unsatisfied with the outcome of your interaction.

    It is possible to handle an angry partner with compassion for a more positive outcome.  You may wonder why you would be compassionate with someone displaying this type of behaviour or consider that they do not deserve a compassionate response. You may though, be surprised at the difference it makes to the outcome and to the  quality of your relationship.

    For example, you might say ‘I hear that you are angry – I’m sorry that you feel angry about this’ instead of ‘how dare you be angry with me about this!’.  In doing this, you are not taking responsibility for the anger but you are clearly on their side. Compassion can diffuse a situation like this and over a period of time , the lack of judgement and the introduction of positive regard can allow your partner to deal with things differently.

    Being compassionate towards anger does not mean tolerating abusive behaviour but it does mean accepting that being human is to have weaknesses. It is possible to be compassionate yet at the same time hold your partner accountable for their actions.

    To be compassionate towards each other in your relationship, consider the following:

    • Avoid being judgemental and attaching labels or names to behaviour such as, ‘you’re useless’ or ‘you’re an idiot’
    • Try not to approach situations with an idea of how they ‘should’ be or how someone ‘should’ behave or feel
    • It can be unhelpful to make comparisons to other people or to suggest how other people would negatively judge the behaviour just to back up your argument
    • Take responsibility for your own feelings and emotions – try not to blame your partner for your own anger or other reactions.  It is unlikely that you will find any compassion for your partner if you consider that they are to blame for the way you are feeling
    • Have some compassion for yourself too – look for the emotion behind the anger and try to nurture the deeper need

    Compassion is a powerful tool to enable you and your partner to reconnect with your deeper emotions and with the values that are important to both of you in your relationship.  After all, when you chose to be together, you agreed on many things – ask yourself, what has really changed to lead us down this path of disagreement.  You may find that your disagreements are easier to overcome than you think and that a little bit of compassion goes a long way!

    If you would like to know more about our anger management courses visit our anger management page here

    Article by Jo Poscotis at Birmingham Counselling Services

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