Do you have a difficult time knowing if you can trust someone? Or maybe you trust people too often and get hurt? You ask yourself, who is safe and who is not? If this seems like you, you can try out a technique called “Share, Check, Share” (Gravitz, Bowden, 1985)
Techniques for Checking Responses in Others
In the Share, Check, Share technique, what you do is “share a little bit of information and then check the other person’s response” (Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.). If the person is engaged in the conversation, they will ask for more information and possibly share a similar experience to connect with you. Look for cues that they can experience empathy and want a connection; these could be asking about you, open body posture, good eye contact. They will allow space for your feelings and not rush in to give advice, judge you or cut you off (Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.)
If you share a bit and the cues are good, you can try sharing more and so forth. If you set a boundary, they will respect this. You will be able to tell someone honestly how you feel without evoking defensiveness from the other person. They will communicate openly back to you. Safe individuals will be consistent and respect you (Charles L. Whitfield, M.D.)
Opening Up is Hard
All of this might sound easy, but out in the world, it is uncomfortable and sometimes terrifying. That’s why practicing it in a safe environment can be transformative. One way to practice learning safety and building relational confidence is by joining a counseling or therapy group. Process groups, a type of group counseling, allow you the space to be vulnerable in a contained environment. Trained facilitators will lead the conversation to a deeper level, while protecting and containing the conversation so that everyone feels safe in the group.
How Process Groups Can Help You
In process groups, you will understand that how you are showing up in the world is similar to how you show up in the group. Let’s say, you feel that you don’t fit in anywhere in the world.
You feel rejected and judged by most people and have a core belief that you are unlovable. When you attend group, your initial feeling will be to run away to avoid the pain of possibly
being hurt again. Or you might even want to challenge and defend yourself.
Through open communication with other members, you will first gain insight into your barriers to healthy relationships. Secondly, you can begin to work through those barriers by “trying something different” and hearing other perspectives. Lastly, you will gain confidence in your relational skills to use in the “outside world.” In the example mentioned above, maybe this person understands that he fits in just fine with the world but his perception of how others view him is based on childhood experiences.
Relationship Patterns Repeat in Our Lives
We all experience challenges with navigating relationships, but for some people, especially people with traumatic or dysfunctional family systems, it can be painful. Maybe you are struggling with why you pick the same type of narcissistic person time after time. Maybe you are so scared of dating that you just cut yourself off from the world. Would it be helpful to know that when you grow up with caregivers that are abusive or scary, your brain chemistry is literally changed.
Neural networks program your brain to think and feel that scary people are safe because it is what you have learned in childhood. Therefore, time after time, you might find the same type of person to date but just with a shinier package. Underneath, this person is often similar to your caregivers (Robin Sharpiro 2016).
Robin Sharpiro, author of Easy Ego State Interventions writes, “When children are inconsistently responded to, abused, or neglected or have scary depressed, angry, addicted or dissociated parents, their brains grow neural pathways for interacting with those kinds of people. Louis Cozolino (2006) says that kids that have scary parents develop reflexive opiate responses to abusive people, thus experiencing a comforting rush of good feelings around people who are inadequate, spaced out, or abusive like the folks at home” (Robin Sharpiro 2016).
The Shame We Feel
Unhealthy relationships can also stir up deep feelings of shame. Shame is something that we all experience, but shame left avoided and buried, will only grow. We cannot heal our shame alone. Part of the power that helps shame grow within us is when we keep our shame to ourselves and don’t let it out or discuss it safely with others.
“We need others to help us heal ourselves. They validate our predicaments and our pain, and they accept us as we are. And when we hear others tell their stories and share their shame, we help them to heal their shame. Doing so helps us as well. By such sharing and listening, we begin to practice the principle of unconditional love” (Charles L. Whitfield, M.D).
Unconditional love towards ourselves and others takes time, practice, patience and courage. If we are able to find this space in our short times on earth, we can find meaning and boundless connectedness. Trying out a therapy group is a good first step towards healing yourself and developing this unconditional love.
How We Can Help
We are currently enrolling for our relationship process group.
A self-awareness and personal growth group for adults seeking healthy, fulfilling relationships.
For individuals who want to develop strong and worthwhile connections with others so you can feel confident and happy in your relationships.
If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxed life
Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Kristen Dammer believes in addressing the whole health needs of you as a person, and her dedication, creativity, and flexibility as a therapist are her greatest strengths. Her holistic approach to anxiety, grief and trauma helps you feel in control and creates a welcoming environment for you to share your vulnerabilities, fears, and experiences. She is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and uses it to treat anxiety and trauma. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.