Let’s face it, relationships can be a source of a lot of stress especially when we do not have ground rules in place. Just as the yellow flag in football is used to indicate illegal conduct, so too we need an infrastructure (a process and structure) to minimize below the line behavior (stone walling, ugly talk and defensive behavior) and maximize healthy, authentic connection as we create safe conversation.
IMAGO: Get Yours On
Learn & Reflect:
IMAGO is Latin for image and is a very powerful infrastructure to build effective dialogue on. It is based on validation rather than problem solving. The theory has been around for a long time and was simplified in the book Getting the Love You Want by Hendrix and Hunt.
Similar to many energy psychology modalities, IMAGO reflects upon the images you have from childhood that create your perceptions, assumption as well as your reactions to life today. For example, if you grew up with images from your childhood that reflected a theme of: “I need to be perfect in order to be loved and accepted” or “it’s never good enough no matter how hard I try” then any type of feedback will potentially spin you into a emotional head space of lack and scarcity thinking along with it a large release of the stress hormone. Remember, stress is the power you give to outside circumstance to define your worth, value and capability so when you have a program frequency running below the surface of your interactions with other people that whispers a message of “not-enoughness” into your ears then you will be very sensitive to feedback even when it is constructive.
Identify & Adjust =>
In walks the IMAGO dialogue which allows for validation to replace the tension that often accompanies the need to solve a problem quickly, giving room for psychological safety and supporting effective flow of meaning, which by the way is the definition of dialogue. What has been found in IMAGO dialogue conversations is that the solution appears in the presence of validation and empathy: I get what you feel. Many times in dialogue that focuses on finding a solution, EGO steps in along with the need to be right which prevents the solution from emerging and isolates both parties in the dialogue.
As a human being feels validated, the frontal cortex of the brain is activated which is responsible for executive functioning: the ability to effectively manage oneself and available resources to achieve a desired goal. The first step in EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is the ability to identify one’s own emotions the second step is the ability to manage one’s own emotions. An emotion is your body’s response to your thought life.
Take a moment to identify your emotional response in the following questions:
- How well do you feel you are in touch with your own emotions?
- On a scale from one to ten how well do you manage your emotions when another person has a different opinion?
- What is a familiar emotion that pops up when you feel criticized?
Integrate & Act=>
IMAGO Dialogue 3 Steps: May feel a little restrictive at first and will get easier as you practice. It is important when your partner asks for a couples dialogue that all distractions are removed and you give them your full attention, with eye contact as this is a part of supporting validation: I SEE YOU, YOU MATTER TO ME.
Mirroring/Summary => Validation and Empathy
Mirroring/Summary: Mirror each thing your partner says…then ask is there more? When they say no that’s all for now move along into your summary statement.
Validation: Make a statement something like: “You make sense and what makes sense to me is……show that you can put yourself in their shoes: “It makes sense to me that when I said that to you, you felt like I was criticizing you and that hurt.” This is so important because too often we feel in dialogue we don’t make sense this step allows for validation: “you DO make sense.” Too often one person says their point of view and you say yours and miss out on validating each other.
Make a Statement of Empathy: I imagine when this happens you feel hurt or angry…Did I get that? Is this how you felt? We let our partner or receiver of our communication know we understand how they feel.
Explore Support Resources:
- How to Connect in the Midst of Disconnect CD by Lauren E Miller. Powerful quick tips and techniques to create connection in the midst of conflict.
- Executive Coaching & Team Building: CLICK HERE TO EXPLORE
Lauren E Miller, M.Ed, Specialization in Human Resource Development, is a stress relief educator/coach/trainer and international motivational speaker and best-selling author. Lauren equips people and teams globally with mindset skills and sustainable behavioral shifts to de-stress their lives, regain inner clarity and step into personal excellence and wellness. To explore more of Lauren E Miller and personal excellence and wellness products and services please visit her at:
Edge God In Podcast Ministries: http://EdgeGodIn.com
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