When I was a child, I thought I controlled the weather and wanted to be a witch. I didn’t quite understand what I really wanted or what witchcraft meant. As a kid, I was curious, playful, and enjoyed life the only way a mischievous girl could. There were many things I didn’t understand that puzzled me, and I was fine with not knowing everything. It’s become clearer as I grow older to grasp the learning of life as curious as a child.
How Family’s Settle Disagreements
Growing up, the dynamics of my family life were either like an iceberg or an exploding atomic bomb. Our family rules for handling conflicts were either approached stoically and without emotion, or distractedly, with issues often being swept under the rug. Years of avoidance led to blaming each other.
Regardless of the challenges that arise in families or between two individuals, there are ways we communicate our needs that can either be unhealthy and counterproductive or healthy and useful.
When one’s self-worth is low, communication tends to be vague, dishonest, and indirect. The rules become rigid, non-negotiable, and can even seem inhumane. One’s approach to life and connection to humanity often revolves around fear, placation, or placing blame. The four universal patterns people employ to cope with rejection, distrust, personal lows, or frustration are…
- Placating or always agreeing to whatever you want is okay with me. I am just here to make you happy. People please so that someone doesn’t get mad at you.
- Blame other people. Become the blamer, fault finder, a boss who acts superior with the attitude of I’m your boss around here.
- Compute to deal with the problem by being logical and using intellectualism. The need is to be very correct, very reasonable, and show no emotional feelings.
- The Distracter ignores the threat and acts like “I’m off somewhere else”. The distracter does and says what is irreverent and jumps off-topic.
Leveling Instead of Indirect Communication
When your self-esteem is high, you are able to communicate your needs in a direct, clear, specific, and honest way. Your rules are more flexible, human, appropriate, and subject to change. Your approach to life is more open and more hopeful where it is based on your freedom of choice. This is referred to as leveling. These concepts are in the Virginia Satir book entitled The New People Making.
Leveling is a way to respond back to others in situations where your words match the facial expressions. It’s about being easy, free, and honest in your expressions toward people. All messages toward others are going in the same direction. It’s clear and concise.
When you are leveling, you can apologize when you did something wrong, you didn’t intend to do. Saying sorry for the act of the deeds. It’s an evaluating act where you are not blaming the person. If you say “I love you”, your voice is warm and loving. Your face shines with love. If you say “I am mad at you, ” your voice is harsh and your face tight. Your message is direct, concise, and clear.
Leveling is when…..
Whatever you look and sound, whatever you say and do, whatever you think and feel at the given moment in time is you. This is authentically you and represents where you are at the moment at that time. You can always review later and keep what is useful and throw out the unuseful things. You can see, hear, think, say, and do what makes sense around the world around you. You have the tools and resources to be close to people and things outside of you. You can express all your feelings and your face matches exactly what you feel. You level with you. You are you. And you are okay.
How Leveling Helps You Reach Goals and Deal with Reality
Leveling is a transformative tool, especially when we’re navigating personal milestones like weight loss or quitting smoking. When our self-esteem is bolstered by leveling, we can candidly engage with our true motivations, challenges, and feelings. For example, someone on a weight loss journey might express, “I think part of the reason I’m holding onto this weight is that I don’t completely believe I deserve to feel better or be happier.” With their tone and expression mirroring this genuine sentiment, they’re better positioned to confront and work through the emotion, rather than suppressing it.
In the same vein, someone attempting to quit smoking with the aid of leveling might voice, “Stress pushes me toward cigarettes.” By recognizing and genuinely communicating this trigger, they can begin to identify alternative, healthier stress-relievers. By always staying genuine and leveling both with oneself and with those in one’s circle — be it family, friends, or support groups — the path to achieving these important life objectives becomes clearer and more grounded. This alignment between inner feelings and outward expression ensures that our journey towards these goals is genuine, heartfelt, and anchored in our current truth.
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