What we all really want from our relationships

Nov 16, 2021

Mike Korman

I’m a certified coach therapist supporting and guiding those desiring more compassion and connection to themselves and in their relationships. I weave together nonviolent communication and mindfulness.

I believe that in our relationships what we want more than anything is to be acknowledged.

To be acknowledged is to be seen, is to be heard, is to be given space to, is even to be understood. 

To be acknowledged is to be loved. 

And it is the missing ingredient in so many conflict situations, both in our intimate relationships and in international and intercommunal conflicts. 

I see it as one of the main keys to reviving and nourishing connection and closeness in our relationships. 

We can’t have true human connection with another person without acknowledging how what we do impacts on them, and how what they do impacts on us. 

To be acknowledged is to be told…

“I see the impact that what I said/did has had on you.”

“I see the impact that this is still having on you.”

“I can only suppose what it must feel like, how challenging it must be…and I’d really like you to tell me what your experience really is.” 

Giving acknowledgment to another is to recognise that what I do and what I say does and will have an impact on the other side. 

Acknowledgment is seeing another, and seeing another is an act of love. 

So if acknowledgment is such a powerful force in creating rich and loving relationships then why don’t we do it? Why do we find it so difficult to acknowledge the impact of our actions on those other people that we love?

What stops us from acknowledging?

We’re petrified. Shitting ourselves. 

We’re awfully afraid of feeling one thing that no human wants to feel. 

Guilt and shame. 

This is how it is for me. What stops me from acknowledging the impact of my actions on others is a fear that the following will happen:

Me: I can really see how what I said might have been super difficult for you to hear, is that true?


Other dear person: Yes! How could you even say such a thing? What were you thinking to yourself?

Because if this dialogue happens, and it happens to all of us, then I immediately feel a ginormous wave of guilt and pain arise within me. 

My thoughts become the thoughts of the other person. “How could I have done such a thing!? What actually was I thinking? I’m a bad person. I’m so selfish.”

And then the guilt and shame become more intense and in a matter of moments I’m overwhelmed by those familiar feelings that we all know as humans. And all I want is for them to go away, or for me to go away, or for the whole world to go away. 

This is why we have such a difficult time acknowledging the impact of our behaviour. Because we’re afraid, and rightly so, that if we acknowledge another’s difficulty that was influenced by our actions we will feel tremendous guilt, shame and pain. 

And who wants to feel those things?

Not me. 

So are we not caught? 

On one hand we can see how healing acknowledging another’s experience can be, and on the other we see how doing so might lead us to feel tremendous pain. 

So what do we do?

How can we acknowledge without feelings of guilt?

What do I want in my relationships? I want connection, I want a felt sense of intimacy, I want to feel an open channel through which a warmth flows from my heart to the others’. 

So if this is what I want then what can help me get it?

Guilt gives me the opposite. It stagnates connection. It disconnects me from the other person and from myself. Instead of connecting to my humanness, to how I’m always just trying the best I can in this complicated thing called human existence and human relationships, instead of being aware of that, I’m lost in painful self-judgements. 

So what is the antidote to guilt?

Taking responsibility. 

Saying “yes, my actions and my words have an impact on others. And yes, I am human, I make mistakes, I do things that in hindsight I wish I didn’t and I’m just trying to do the best I can and sometimes it’s all a bit too much for me and I do things that I later regret. And I see how all of this impacts on you.”

Can you feel the different energy? The different feel of saying this than saying “how could I have done such a thing?”

In my experience taking responsibility empowers me toward the other person. I want to reach out to them, to connect with them, to listen to them. 

And when I feel guilt I want to crawl into a cave, I contract inward, I feel afraid, ashamed to approach the other, to approach the world. 

I believe that this is the consciousness that we need to aspire to, and want to aspire to, in our relationships. One which takes responsibility for our actions and their impacts on others and which leads us to acknowledge this impact in a dialogue with the other person. 

This to me is nothing less than completely transformational. 

What happens when one person has the ability to acknowledge another’s difficult experience that they themselves impacted on is magical. It is healing. It is so very human. 

And isn’t that the connection we really yearn for?

I’d be very glad to hear what resonated with you/your comments/questions. I love being in connection with those that read my writing.

Mike Korman
I’m a certified coach therapist supporting and guiding those desiring more compassion and connection to themselves and in their relationships. I weave together nonviolent communication and mindfulness.

Reach me directly here...

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