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Emotionally Intelligent Relationships: Part 2 - The 6 Steps to Conflict in Relationships

Glenn Cohen

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Ask yourself, why can’t I experience an Emotionally Intelligent Relationship? The answer can be summed up with one simple word – Reactivity. In order to create an EIR, you must understand The 6 Steps to Conflict in Relationships.

Allow me to explain. All of us have emotional wounds that can originate from four different sources. Emotional wounds are the aftermath of painful relationship experiences where your needs went unmet, feelings were invalidated, or emotional pain was somehow inflicted on you.

When an event occurs, your mind tends to interpret the event as a positive or negative experience. A negative experience can be anything from a parent minimizing or invalidating, peers teasing or ridiculing, or a boss telling you are incompetent, to a partner being unfaithful or inflicting emotional/physical abuse. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, these types of events set the stage for emotional wounds.

After these type of experiences, your mind begins a self-dialogue that creates fear. The fear presents itself in a number of ways – feeling insecure, unworthy, unlovable, threatened by abandonment, a desire for control, or mistrust. Fear leads to sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and pain that go hand in hand with emotional wounds.

If your fears become too intense, they can lead your mind to create the twin pillars of distorted perspectives and unrealistic expectations. The twin pillars skew your view of reality and blur the lines between past pain and present reality. Thus, you view events through the foggy lens of fear.

When an everyday issue, situation, or problem arises that does not match the distorted perspective or unrealistic expectation, it acts as an “emotional trigger"and activates the associated fear from the emotional wound. Triggers lead to emotional reactivity through a release of negative energy. It is this reactivity that causes most of the problems in relationships and leads you to behave in an emotionally unintelligent manner.

The intensity of the reactions is directly correlated to the severity of the wound and the intensity of the associated fears. Reactivity comes in two forms. People either react inwardly by withdrawing or outwardly by exploding and lashing out at others. Common forms of inward reactivity include avoidance, silence, and isolation. Conversely, typical forms of outward reactivity include yelling, tantrums, name-calling, and throwing or breaking objects.

I call negative reactive behaviors Relationship Killers. They include the following (and many other forms) of words, actions, and behaviors:

Mocking, Blaming, Justifying, Accusing, Ridiculing, Invalidating, Criticizing, Minimizing, Angry Outbursts, Spiteful verbal darts, Excessive nit-picking, Selfish demands, Disrespectful judgments, Emotional Withdrawal and Disengagement Condescending attitudes, Threatening Verbal/ Physical Behavior

Reactivity is the release of negative energy associated with emotional wounds and fears. Reactivity does not define who you are as a person. Unfortunately, because of the hurtful words, actions and behaviors associated with reactivity, it can begin to define the manner in which people perceive, respond to, and treat you.

An unfortunate consequence of your reactivity frequently occurs when individuals treat you in a manner that reaffirms your wounds and perpetuates your fear. It is similar to the Law of Attraction - you receive what you send out. If you project negative energy onto your partner through emotional reactivity, it is likely your partner will view you and treat you in ways that validate your fears, actions, and behaviors. This vicious cycle will not be broken until you understand The 6 Steps to Conflict in Relationships and learn to act in an emotionally intelligent manner. However, help is on the way, and change is entirely possible!

Read Part 3 – Emotionally Intelligent Relationships: How do I get one?

©2007 – All rights reserved – Glenn Cohen – “I-TO-WE"™ Relationship Coaching /

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