Building Better Relationship Habits: How Others See You

reflections

If you are going through a difficult life passage, such as a divorce or an illness, support groups for those specific issues can be immensely helpful.

Life skills, such as techniques for communicating anger, are frequently taught in a group setting. It is a generally safe place to learn and practice the skills being learned.

To really understand how you relate to others, and to grow in that dimension, is the purpose of group therapy. Participating in such a group can be a positive, though not always easy, life-changing experience.

There is no better way to see yourself than through the eyes of peers who you have built a trusting relationship with. The therapist is present to help the group form a cohesive unit where members feel safe enough to hear frank feedback about themselves.

The feedback received allows people to see their behavior as others do. This includes strengths and weaknesses, what others appreciate or find annoying. Not everyone likes what they view each week in the mirror of group therapy, but that is why it is helpful.

What People Learn in Group Therapy

  1. As already mentioned, people discover how their manners and behaviors are perceived by others--not only through verbal feedback, but also by watching how the other group members react to their actions and delivery.

    It is sometimes a shocking experience to discover how others perceive us. That knowledge does away with the things we believe people see in us but really do not. We might also come to appreciate that every human being reacts to us a little differently, according to their own beliefs and past experiences.
  2. In group therapy, it becomes very clear how our words and behaviors make others feel. For example, if seven other people are put off by your tone of voice, it makes you stop and think about how you say things. If only one person is put off by your tone, you realize that not everyone will react positively to you no matter how you speak.
  3. Participants can observe how their own behaviors create the opinions people have of them. Most relationship oriented therapy groups function in the present moment, not dwelling on past issues, making it apparent how people learn to view people according to their present words and actions.

    We might notice how we form snap judgments of others that frequently turn out to be false. We may judge someone to be hopelessly self-centered but then soften toward them upon realizing they act that way to cover their perceived emptiness.
  4. Group members become aware of how their attitudes and behaviors shape their opinions of themselves. It is obvious, as the group goes on, that our self-opinions are often based on other’s reactions to us; and their reactions to us can be the result of our own behavior and demeanor.

    We might also learn that someone's reaction to us may reflect the other person's inner world and not ours. A person who takes an immediate dislike to us is typically reacting to someone or something we remind them of, or to a quality we exhibit but they have learned to repress.

You may have to search for a therapy group that functions in the “here and now,” but the benefits are worth the time and expense. It can enrich your intimate relationships, friendships, and work experience. Being comfortable with yourself around others can release your potential and open avenues of life enrichment.

 
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