In his book “Language and the Pursuit of Happiness”, Chalmers Brothers states that “most of our relationships are not physical or sexual – they’re conversational. They’re truly constituted out of the conversations we have and how we have them. Change them, and you change the relationship. Stop them, and you stop the relationship.” This is true whether we are having an internal conversation (silently, to ourself) or an external conversation with someone else, where words are being said OUTLOUD.
Sometime over this next week, pay attention to the nature of conversations that are happening in your own mind only. Take this picture of the laundry basket at the bottom of the steps, for example. There is a silent conversation connnected to this, that probably sounds something like, “I need help getting the laundry upstairs and put away.” Does this, or something like it, sound familiar? How does that usually work out for you? I know in my house, before I started making requests more effectively, that laundry basket could have stayed right there for a week, being stepped over dozens of times by various family members. Rather quickly, the nature of my silent conversation would switch to, “Can’t anyone see that this has to go upstairs? They should know I need help!” (And I would bring the associated mood to our household as well, which is always pleasant)
When we are saying to ourselves, “I shouldn’t have to ask you that!”, we are really just observing something we’d like to change, but haven’t made the request because we think the other person should already know this. When nothing happens, we usually simmer in resentment, continually finding evidence that supports how right we are and how wrong the other person is. But still nothing changes that gets you what you really want!
When we become more fully aware that the conversations we have in our own head are not actually conversations with others, we begin to shift the way in which we engage with people in order to get to our hoped for future. So even if you truly believe that the other person “should know”, you may be right, but you’ll still be unhappy. Your choice…