I just had a couple leave my office. I was helping them to practice communication.

Her main complaint was that when she expresses anything to him, he feels attacked and then shuts down.

She is left feeling insignificant and not heard.

I see different versions of the same story over and over again in my office. One partner cannot be sensitive to the other because he or she will either get angry and escalate the discussion (fight) or withdraw physically or emotionally (flight).

The biggest block in these situations is one’s own inner critic…that voice that is constantly judging, measuring and comparing and definitely leaving us feeling inadequate.

When the critical voice runs the show, I could tell you what doesn’t happen:

Effective listening
Deeper connection
Problem resolution
Instead, couples stay in these ruts where there is disconnection and defensiveness.

Self-esteem is what you feel when you are doing things well or above average.

Self-esteem is good to have.

However, self-compassion is when we are kind to ourselves even when we are showing our human flaws. Self-compassion is when we are noticing our emotional pain and practice self-soothing.

Self-compassion is about being caring towards ourselves just because we need it and not because we think we deserve it.

I strongly encourage you to practice self-compassion.

Be aware of your inner critic and that you can choose to listen to kinder words, more accepting words towards yourself.
Notice any tension in your body resulting from the automatic obeying of the critical voice’s way of measuring your worth.
Relax and soften those tense muscles.
Take some relaxation breaths to calm down and give yourself time to break away from the “rule” of your inner critic.
Focus on your heart area and open it as if you are receiving love from the universe. Basically, do whatever you need to do to evoke a feeling of kindness towards yourself.
If you do that even when (especially when) your partner has a complaint about you, here is what you will experience:

Rather than focusing on your feelings of inadequacy, shame or defensiveness, you stay focused on your partner’s inner experience and emotions.
Your partner will sense your presence and attentiveness and will soften.
There will be a feeling of closeness and connectedness that had been missing from previous emotional dialogues.
You will feel successful and have higher self-esteem!
In conclusion, then you can see that self-compassion leads to your partner feeling more loved and significant and you will feel higher self-esteem.

Everyone wins and that is the only way to have a great relationship!

Author's Bio: 

Mr. Creager is educated and trained as a Marriage and Sex Therapist and spends much of his time helping partners in long-term relationships learn how to create passionate, alive and nourishing interactions. He provides unique and powerful insights that lead to powerful breakthroughs which result in his clients getting closer to realizing their full potential.

He founded his practice in 1982 in Tustin CA, and has since helped thousands of individuals and couples learn how to bring the best out of others to achieve their goals. The biggest joy in his career is witnessing clients increase their capacity to receive more from life as well as others.

He has developed the gift of helping couples and individuals move past their resistance to have the relationships and love they crave. His specialties include helping couples heal from infidelity, helping couples rekindle passion and helping individuals break free from their earlier toxic relationships and dysfunctional families. He does this in a variety ways including specialized programs that are powerful and effective as well as seminars, workshops, speaking and informational products.

Todd’s practice in Huntington Beach, CA has been helping couples and individuals all around Orange County including Long Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Corona del Mar and Seal Beach – for over 30 years!