I’ve just sent off the final payment for my new-look website. I hired a friend to build and develop a new website for my couples counseling business in San Diego California. From the onset, he told me one of the best ways to attract couples looking to improve communication in their relationship is by writing about what I have learned doing couples therapy and from my own relationships. As his words hit my ears, I began to feel two things. First, was a thought, that’s brilliant, I can do that! The second thought quickly pushed out the first one when I realized that writing a blog meant putting my practice out there for San Diego to read. Let’s be real for a second, it’s not like I have thousands of followers. Nevertheless, the idea of putting my thoughts in a digital footprint left me feeling frozen.
It’s been over a month since I was given the idea to write a blog for my therapy website. I mean how hard can it be, I started to tell myself. Shame never helped anyone, so I quickly moved off of that vine. However, I proceeded to spend several brainstorming sessions considering what I would write about. Each new idea was almost immediately followed by a certain level of antipathy that prevented the pen from ever hitting the paper. I even saw a therapist. All my years of training and experience were nearly useless with fear driving the bus. It felt almost impossible to push myself through the fear, for the desired growth.
Fear Can Stifle Progress, or Aid it
There is a type of fear that is paralyzing. This was it for me. But at some point, the fear of stepping into the batter’s box, overpowers the fear of striking out. After all, this is just a conversation and I do that all the time with my clients. How hard could it be, right?
With all the drive and determination, I opened a new web browser. I had hopes of gaining some inspiration from one of the sites I read to stay apprised in the field of psychology. Many times in my life when it’s felt like the universe was trying to tell me something. This happened to be one of those moments. The first article that caught my attention was titled Procrastination: A Self-Protective Mechanism. Just the title could not have been more accurate for how I felt about writing my own blog. It was all about protecting myself.
Improved Communication Through Realization
You’re reading it now, so you know that I pushed through the fear. But it had me thinking about how this same paralyzing fear may enter your personal relationships. My guess is that when that fear comes up, it blocks you from gaining the conversation you desire. Some couples report “I never meant to say those hurtful things during an argument,” but something just takes over inside them. Once you react, your partner’s defenses rise up and the connection is lost. When a couple calls my office, this is commonly described as “we just need help with our communication.”
Communication: If communication were it I’d sit down with you and work to develop stronger communication skills. I might even implement a talking stick to promote respecting one another’s turn to talk. We could develop communication skills that would promote enjoyable vacations, work lives, and better sex. I’m fairly confident that those skills would last at least until you get to the parking lot. Not exactly the most ideal outcome, right? While communication does appear to be the issue for many couples seeking therapy, that may not be the root. If we drill down and look at the system, or the process, similar to how I uncovered my fear of writing, there are usually some attachment bells ringing as loud as air raid sirens. Those bells send a signal that tells us to fight, freeze, or flee. In this heightened state, it becomes hard to communicate.
Sometimes the fear of communicating is what drives us, while other times it’s a fear of losing something/someone. Still other times, it may be a fear of not getting something we desire (i.e. connection, attention, sex, love, admiration, acceptance, etc..). Nevertheless, our partners do not see the fear. They see the procrastination and that can send them an alarm bell also. Both experiences, fueled by a desire for another kind of connection may bring out an additional fear response, which just gives the cycle more momentum. Over time, the momentum creates more and more distance between the two of you.
In closing, Hall of Fame NHL player Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” What’s blocking you from taking a shot? Let’s work together to begin taking some shots.