Rachel Brandwene, LCSW
The Link Between Survival Mode and Difficulty Communicating Needs in Our Relationships
Whether in our relationships with family, friends, partners or colleagues, communicating our needs and feelings can be tough. We may try to bury them, put them aside, or hide them altogether in an effort to avoid conflict, heartache, or the vulnerability that comes from speaking out. In the moment, this can seem like the easier choice. But the problem is that, over time, those feelings we push down can eventually bubble up and, instead of peacefully communicating, we end up stuck in survival mode – leading to difficult, reactive patterns in our relationships.
It’s essential for us to find healthy ways to share our needs, feelings, and boundaries with those around us, no matter how intimidating or challenging this may feel. Learning how to ask for what we need and effectively advocate for ourselves is an essential skill, as it leads to greater self-awareness and mutual understanding.
If you’re having trouble navigating this territory, the best place to start is to practice radical self-acceptance and to really tune into what it is that you need. Find ways to express those feelings and needs without making the other person feel wrong or misunderstood. You may need to practice taking some deep breaths and drawing upon the power of empathy to take those vulnerable leaps of faith and articulate your needs in a gentle and honest way.
With a bit of practice, this type of compassionate communication can slowly replace the need to exist in a state of “survival mode” in our relationships. Even if we have years of self-doubt and low-esteem to break free from, every single moment we make the choice to communicate in a heathy way is a reminder that we have the power to speak up and make real and meaningful change.
I will be teaching you actionable skills to implement a healthier communication response into all relationships in your life in my upcoming workshop, Navigating Relationships: Understanding Communication Patterns through the Lens of the Nervous System on February 26 11am - 12pm PST. CLICK HERE to sign up and attend the event free of charge.
If you’re unable to join live, a recording will be sent to you after the event.