Halloween is upon us! Vampires, ghouls, and zombies will be wandering the streets in search of candy and other treats.
Even adults get into dressing up as monsters during the fall-time festivities. While it’s fine to don a monster costume for an evening, are you guilty of letting your inner monster get out when conflicts arise in your relationships?
Think about it, most every monster emerges when circumstances are just right. Your inner-monster doesn’t need a full moon or fog-filled cemetery to come to life … just a little bit of conflict. Below are six common monsters and the communication issues they struggle with when there is conflict.
Which monster do you most identify with? Even though the monsters tend to be a particular gender, these inner-monsters are found in men and women.
Frankenstein—Frankenstein is most often critical of those closest to him, including his mate. When issues arise between the two of them, he puts the blame on his partner. Instead of viewing the issue as a problem in the relationship, this little monster views his partner as the problem. Common phrases Frankenstein uses are “you never…” and “you always…”. In the heat of the moment, Frankensteins are oblivious to how harmful their words and actions can be…especially to those they love the most.
Dracula—Dracula tends to think he is better than other people. In a conflict, those struggling with an inner-Dracula treat their partner with contempt. He often mocks her or calls her names. And it’s not just his words, Dracula uses body language like the rolling of the eyes or sneering to further drain the life out of his victim. Dracula’s style of communicating is particularly destructive to his relationship.
Witch—The Witch sees herself as a victim and views conflict as a personal attack. Those struggling with an inner-Witch handle conflict defensively, giving excuses and refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. The Witch tends to turn a complaint about her against the other person (e.g. “I only did that because you did that!”). At other times, the crafty Witch will start out agreeing and then switch to disagreeing (“Yes, but…”).
The Werewolf—Most of the time, the Werewolf seems pleasant enough. When faced with conflict, the Werewolf acts like everything is fine, but inside, resentment is bottling up. At a point when the bottle overflows, it is like a bright, full moon appears at midnight. The inner-Werewolf emerges and erupts in a negative and destructive way.
The Ghost—The Ghost tends to disappear when conflict arises. Those struggling with the inner Ghost often feel like their thoughts and feelings don’t count for much. Rather than work through the problem or talk about an issue, the Ghost tries not to rock the boat. The Ghost says whatever needs to be said to keep the peace. While the tough circumstance may subside, the Ghost is haunted by the lingering effects of unresolved conflict.
The Mummy—Similar to the Ghost, the Mummy is notorious for keeping their feelings under wraps. When conflict arises, the Mummy responds with silence, or short mutterings. Those struggling with an inner-Mummy have been known to leave the conversation, leave the house, or leave the situation entirely just to avoid the conflict. Other times, the Mummy changes the subject rather than discussing the issue at hand. Thinking they are staying neutral in the conflict, the Mummy’s responses suggest disapproval, disconnection, and distance.
Overcoming these monsters takes more than a silver bullet or a garlic clove, but it can be done with the right tools.
How to Defeat Your Inner-Frankenstein: Instead of wreaking havoc with words, Frankenstein should “complain without blame.” That is, he should bring up the problem without suggesting that his partner is the problem. When things become heated, Frankenstein needs to take a break and let himself cool off before he says something that he regrets.
How to Defeat Your Inner-Dracula: Dracula needs to treat his partner with respect. He needs to appreciate his partner rather than focusing on the things that bother him. Those struggling with an inner-Dracula should look in a mirror and view the non-verbals they’re expressing. Seeing what is reflected should be enough to nail the coffin on this destructive behavior! How to Defeat Your Inner-Witch: The Witch needs to realize that her actions slowly but surely isolate her from her loved ones. Learning to admit fault, accept responsibility for one’s actions, and view yourself through the eyes of your mate are ways to overcome the inner-Witch. Rather than viewing conflict as a personal attack, she needs to listen to what her partner is saying and then address the problem that is brought up.
How to Defeat Your Inner-Werewolf: Instead of bottling emotions, the Werewolf needs to be up front and honest with his partner when he feels hurt or upset. Find ways to express yourself, for yourself. Use “I” instead of “you”—“. Describe what you see happening without judgment or attacking your mate. Keep it simple and focused on the issue, instead of going on and on with a list of complaints against your mate. Arguments often end on the same note that it begins, so if the issue is never resolved, it never really ends. It will continue to appear as regularly as the full moon.
How to Defeat Your Inner-Ghost: The Ghost needs to be more assertive. Rather than focusing on stopping the conflict from being talked about, focus on being a part of resolving the conflict. The Ghost needs to speak up and explain their own needs and feelings too. There are two people in a couple relationship for a reason. Both are needed and both need to be heard. By taking these steps, you will defeat your inner-Ghost better than any GhostBuster ever could.
How to Defeat Your Inner-Mummy: Sometimes the Mummy may be withdrawing simply because they are overwhelmed by the conflict. Those struggling with an inner-Mummy need to learn to recognize when they are emotionally overwhelmed and find a way to express themselves. When conflict emerges, call a timeout and collect your thoughts on paper. Get back with your partner and discuss the issue further. By instituting a solution to resolving conflict, slowly but surely, your inner-Mummy will unravel into a strong person who knows how to express themselves.
Ready to take on your own monsters? Next time conflict arises, try an XYZ message. “When you do X in situation Y, I feel Z.” Start with the X, describe the other person’s behavior without blame or accusation.. Next (the Y), explain the effects that behavior has on you, or the situation when it occurs. Finally end with Z by sharing your feelings about the effect in a concise and brief way. This process turns, “You couldn’t be on time to save your life!” into “When you are running late, I start to think something’s happened to you and I get worried.”
Relationship classes teach communication skills and tools like the XYZ message to help couples resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Consider signing up for a Relationship Education class to learn the best ways of defeating your inner monster.
Want to Learn More?
Find a Relationship Education class near you.
Read Start Soft When You Want To Be Heard to learn more about how to bring up a conflict with your partner.
Read Take Control of Your Anger Or It Will Control You to learn more about how to cope with anger.
Read Communicating Better in Marriage to learn more about healthy communication skills.
We want to hear from you! How do you handle conflict in your relationship?
Written by Shelece McAllister– Copyright (C) 2012 Healthy Relationships California