self


One of the easiest ways to get into communication trouble is by using dysfunctional triangles as a form of communicating.  A relational triangle consists of three legs. Typically, one person is speaking to another about a person, place, or thing.  We speak in triangles all day long:

How was your mother’s visit to the doctor? (person) What do you think of the new restaurant in town? (place)
What about the weather we are having? (thing)

Now, as you can see above, generally speaking, triangles are not a problem if they meet the following criteria:  the what (content) and the why (motive) are not negatively charged.  They are primarily used for informational purposes or with a compassionate intent.

However, dysfunctional triangle communication can cause disruption in clear communication and result in negative consequences relationally.  In this article, I am mainly focusing on the triangles that involve the third leg as a person.

Let’s look at an example:

You have an argument with your sister-in-law and vent about her to your mother, who you know dislikes this sister-in-law.  You have just initiated a dysfunctional triangle.  The content included speaking angrily about her to someone who would probably agree with you; and the motive wasn’t clean because the intent was to have someone join you in the anger, keeping the emotion as the prime focus.

Imagine the many possible consequences of this simple misstep in communication:

–         Your anger feels justified and you have no thoughts of resolving the issue with your sister-in-law.

–         You do not learn from the interaction; in fact, you can become more stuck in a relationship dynamic with her that can only get worse.

–          A lot of emotional energy is wasted.

–          No positive outcome can occur as a result.

–          You may not be open to an apology from your sister-in-law.

–          You could develop the reputation as a gossip or a pot-stirrer.

Here’s another example:

You own a small business and have two employees.  This is a triangle just waiting to be activated!  This setup can be a minefield of potential communication problems.  Think of the possibilities:

–    Your two employees don’t think you lead well and they ally against you and sabotage productivity; or,

–    You depend on the more reliable of the two to do more of the work because you know it will get done.  Imagine the imbalance this can create, which can only lead to more communication dysfunction in your business.

The possibilities are many and the consequences can even lead to your business failing!

These are just two examples of dysfunctional triangles.  They happen everywhere…at work, home, social events, with your friends and with your significant other.

Therefore, before you speak within a triangle, particularly about another person, do two things:

1. Check the content

2. Question your motive

This will help keep your communications clear and keep you out of dangerous territory relationally.  So, beware the triangle!

Women

Beware the triangle!

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Balance … what a great word.  What do you see when you say that word to yourself?  It often changes, based on our own life experiences and needs.  Here are some of my visualizations:  a teeter-totter; the scales of justice; a person on a high wire; even the bubble in a carpenter’s level.

Whatever you see, connect your visualization to your sense of self.  You can feel a sense of balance as you focus on your breathing as you visualize:  inhale through your nose (fill your belly) and exhale through your mouth, taking twice the time it took to inhale.  Do this three times as you are viewing your mind’s picture of balance.  This is a simple exercise to start to right the ship when you are feeling yourself off-kilter.

Balance of the self takes into account these life areas:  physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.  Each area requires attending to in order for us to maintain that delicate state of balance as human beings.  Let’s look at each one of these.

Physically, take care of yourself.  The simple prescription is to eat right and exercise.  Although you can subscribe to a weight management program like Weight Watchers or work out at the local gym, the formula simply includes eating in moderation and moving (walking, swimming, etc.).

Mentally, stay active.  Use your brain cells.  Learn something new every day.  Have an opinion (whether you share it or not).  Studies show that the theory, “use it or lose it,” applies to those cells under our skullcaps!

Emotionally, be sure to be the adult you are when you are experiencing and/or expressing your feelings.  As adults, emotions are kept in appropriate perspective so we don’t overreact in situations.  Keep in mind that emotions are to be used as messages to the self, from the self, about the self.  They are not to run the show and dictate our thoughts and behaviors.  They are to be used purely for information about the self.

Socially, it is important that we have connection with other adults in our lives.  We are social beings.  That said, we don’t have to be social butterflies.  But, we do need to have that adult interaction regularly.  This can be met by contact with coworkers, family members, friends, and/or more formal social groups (bowling league, softball team, book club, etc.).

Spiritually, we have a need to know what life is all about; what our purpose is; where we are headed; why things happen the way they do; etc.  This life area is personal.  Each of us defines what spirituality means, whether it is participating in an organized religion, feeling a connection to the universe, or defining your higher power internally.  Throughout our adult lives, we will experience our personal spiritual journeys.

Balance.  What a great word.  Know that we can all get there.  Staying there requires daily maintenance of these major life areas.  So, take care of you … the enrichment balance brings to life is immeasurable.