Turning Criticism into a Complaint

If you grew up with a lot of criticism around you, you likely have a loud, critical voice in your head as an adult. Usually, that critical voice is directed inwards, but in intimate relationships, many people find that the critical voice starts to come out towards their partner, creating disconnection.

Criticism usually grows out of the fertile soil of not feeling heard. You explain over and over, you talk, you discuss, but nothing changes. Over time your communication becomes critical; you listen to yourselves talking like your parents and saying things that you know are mean and unkind. The next thing you know, you are in a rut. You are critical, and they are defensive. 

When you recognise this situation, this is the moment of power. Now you know you are doing it, you have a choice to continue or to shift the way you are communicating. 

Remember to use ‘I’ statements. “I feel ____________, when ____________happens. I need ____________”.

Notice how much softer you feel when you use the ‘I’ statements. When we are in “You” mode, we can be much harsher; when we switch it to “I” and stay focused on our real feelings, a softness comes into the situation.

I am always struck by how misleading conflicts can be. It might be that the battle is over dirty clothes being left around the house, but when you tune into your feelings around it, it makes you feel unappreciated. Where else have you felt unappreciated? Is this something your mother or father felt? What would you need to feel appreciated?