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Arguments and coping with pressure

Arguments can be the most stressful things in the world. Especially when you're struggling to contain your feelings and the other person is getting increasingly upset, and behind that is a stack of expectations or demands that seem to be placed on you.

Getting to the nub of it, this stressful situation is only possible because part of you invests in those expectations and demands - some of which might only exist in your mind.

If you change your perception of what you are responsible for and what you are not, and free your mind of unnecessary obligations (that are really only choices that you can relinquished), then things will work out better for everyone.

Firstly, responsibility. Ultimately we're all responsible for our own feelings. What this means is, even though we influence each other's feelings (and that's part of what makes a relationship an intimate one), our feelings are our own and if we want them changing the burden of action lies with us.

By taking that message to heart, taking responsibility for what is ours and allowing others to take responsibility for what is theirs, suddenly a whole lot of pressure disappears. Conflicts become less tangled and easier to resolve, and it becomes easier to genuinely and joyfully offer support, knowing that we're not being held responsibly for anyone else's happiness.

Yes, there might be family or legal responsibilities in some relationships. But even these are easier to deal with if you can see them as choices which you accept, and not confuse that responsibility with the pressure that your partner may (or many not) be trying to apply. You choose how to deal with your responsibilities.

Judgement is another key issue. Judgements are particular interpretations of reality. A judgement needn't be true to be made, and sometimes a judgement that is thought to be true, turns out not to be in the light of new evidence.

The point is, judgements reduce reality to increasingly small boxes. (The more you make, the smaller your picture of the 'truth' becomes.) No-one likes to live in small box, even if the judgements or resulting expectations are 'positive'.

The more we judge ourselves or others, the less likely it is that the 'little box' view of reality that results will meet our own needs or the needs of the other person.

The answer is to the learn ways of speaking and listening, that avoid the trap of judgements and instead focus on the communication of what matters most to us - our actual feelings and needs.

"Healthy Loving Relationships" explores in detail simple ways of communicating clearly, assertively and compassionately, which avoid judgement and the pressure that can result.

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