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Inform issue 24 – Autumn 2018

  • Text
  • Survivors
  • Rehabilitation
  • Continence
  • Chronic
  • Autumn
  • Ndis
  • Inform
  • Disability
  • Australia
  • Polio
In this issue of Inform, we celebrate achievements. We follow Independence Australia's residential client Peter as he looks back on some of the adventures he has had along the way of 50 years as a wheelchair user.

Relationships Are you

Relationships Are you guilty of emotional sabotage? Everyday attitudes that can kill a relationship We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another a simple misplaced word, an ill-thought-out comment, expressing an exasperated sigh or simply giving someone the cold shoulder. Although we might not assign too much significance to it at the time, it’s likely that the recipient of this behaviour doesn’t see it the same way. Sadly, nothing affects our emotional brain and our sense of wellbeing more than feeling emotionally cut off from those to whom we are most attached; be they our partner, our children or even our parents. A harsh word or a tiny expression of contempt or disgust is enough to speed up the heartbeat in the person to whom the comment is targeted. Once the emotional brain is aroused in this way, it can rapidly turn off our ability to reason rationally. We no longer look for responses that will restore calm to the situation, instead, we become overwhelmed by our emotions and can only think in terms of defence and attack. Dr. John Gottman has conducted more than 40 years of research into the factors and skills that can make or break a relationship. Over time he has identified four key attitudes and behaviours that can quickly sour even the strongest relationship. 34 Independence Australia

Criticising someone's character, instead of simply stating a grievance about a specific behaviour, can often be the first sign of trouble. Sadly, it’s often something we slip into without realising. Simple criticisms such as, "You’re selfish!" can easily slip out in the heat of the moment. In all likelihood, the recipient of the criticism ends up feeling attacked and potentially misunderstood. Indeed the one criticism can quickly escalate into a war of words that unless addressed appropriately can eventually lead to the destruction of your emotional connection. Contempt is often expressed through insults and sarcasm. Comments such as, "You’re an idiot" or "Yeah, whatever!" can really make us feel unloved, unheard and unappreciated. Facial expressions, such as rolling your eyes, are often all it takes to communicate contempt. When we notice these signals from someone we live with, they go straight to the heart. When we feel like we’re being attacked, the two responses the emotional brain offers us are fight and flight. The problem of counterattack is that it leads to only two possible outcomes. Either it provokes an escalation of hostilities or the defeated party ends up feeling wounded. Either way this only widens the emotional gap and makes living together more difficult. The other option stonewalling often foreshadows the final phase of a disintegrating relationship. After weeks or months of criticism, attacks and counter-attacks, one party disengages, at least emotionally. It’s a behaviour which often leads to a very unhappy end. Simple techniques that can make all the difference Thanks to Dr. Gottman, we now understand, to an unprecedented extent, what is going on in the heads and hearts of people in conflict. Importantly though, we also know some of the secrets of success. For example, replacing judgment with an objective and specific statement of facts means that the other person will likely treat our words as an attempt to communicate rather than as an attack on his or her being. Additionally, explain how the behaviour makes you feel. If you talk about what you feel, nobody can argue with you, after all it’s your experience. By talking about yourself, you’re no longer criticising or attacking the other person. If you talk about what you feel, nobody can argue with you, after all it’s your experience. Now you’re simply expressing your feelings, and therefore being authentic and open. Help is at hand introducing our new relationship workshop series Building effective relationships takes hard work. Even happy marriages for example are rarely, if ever, perfect. Indeed there can be significant differences in temperament, interests, desires and even family values between spouses and/or close family members. Factor in a chronic illness/injury and there’s often a flow-on effect to families and interpersonal relationships. Finding the right way to communicate is the key. If you’d like to start working on improving or strengthening your relationships, our new relationship workshop can help. Run over four half-days, the workshop can help you: • Build positive sentiments and feelings • Override negative thoughts and feelings • Build optimism about each other and your relationship • Repair your connection when it breaks down, and • Learn how to support each other’s goals and dreams To register your interest in attending, simply email psychology@iagroup.org.au Or phone Jenny on 9418 0410 or Primrose on 03 9418 0480 for more information. Inform Autumn 2018 35