Conscious Communication

There was something I read called the “The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling” as it pertained to relationships ending. Being able to identify the Four Horsemen in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them and replacing them with healthy, productive communication patterns.

I know that this is talking about romantic relationships, but I feel it’s important that I speak consciously to everyone around me, and that when I make this a habit, it won’t affect my romantic relationships anymore.

I have a hard time tolerating toxicity now. I even can’t stand it in television shows, where I used to laugh at it. I don’t think it’s funny anymore, because I see firsthand how destructive it is.

So the first one, which I learned from a very early age, is Criticism. It’s a way of communicating where you character assassinate and speak about a person as if you are defining them instead of speaking on a behavior that bothers you. It’s a lot of blaming, and it’s the first step towards Contempt.

For example, let’s say you’re upset that your partner didn’t call you back. Instead of saying, “You’re unreliable” which is a character assassination, you can say, “I am upset that you didn’t call me back.” That’s it. I’ve noticed that I will speak with Criticism when I am afraid of unable to articulate my emotions and instead of being vulnerable, I go to the offensive. This doesn’t work, and it will ultimately lead to the other three. Because I’m telling my mind “they’re unreliable” I’m narrating an ego-driven story about someone’s character based on one action. This will ultimately lead to Contempt. What’s happening is that instead of forgiving the person, your ego is telling you to keep them separate, and to retell these stories until you essentially can’t stand to relate to them, and you lose empathy and respect. I compare it to holding someone in contempt of court. It’s sort of the same.

Contempt is the greatest indicator of a relationship ending. It’s a combination of long-held negative beliefs you have about your partner that you haven’t resolved with them or with yourself.

I’ll elaborate on this more, but I hope you are able to read through the article listed and become more conscious of how you treat and speak to other people.