From The Straits Times    |

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First of all, we all exhibit certain red flags to varying degrees; no one is perfect. Our behaviours, thoughts, beliefs, and how we relate in a relationship are shaped by our childhood experiences, traumas, and whether we were raised in love or survival. We are complex beings. It’s not something to be ashamed of, but rather an opportunity for growth, healing, and improvement in ourselves and our relationship. The journey towards change starts with awareness and acceptance, leading up to the accountability for one’s part in the relational space.

Exploring the “why” behind our own red flags with compassionate curiosity could point us to our own unmet needs, unhealed traumas, and emotional wounds, which can certainly be worked upon with professional support.

If someone acknowledges that they display red flags, what advice do you have for them to communicate and navigate these concerns with their partner effectively?

Your relationship may be rocky at this point. Therefore, before you even communicate this to your partner, I would invite you to start contributing to the relational safety by managing your own triggers, so your partner feels safe to have vulnerable communication with you. Using “I” statements, taking accountability, and respectfully communicating to your partner will definitely soften the space for healing in the relationship. You can become each other’s cheerleader and support system.

We’re often very quick to label people and behaviours as red or green flags. How can we avoid falling into this trap?

Rushing to categorise behaviours or people with red or green flags may mean that you miss the rich complexity inherent in human relationships. We are often tempted to compartmentalise and make sense of our relationships through these labels, yet it’s wise to approach them with a pinch of salt. These labels shouldn’t form the foundation of our relationships.

To avoid falling into this trap, cultivate empathy, strive to understand the deeper context behind actions, work towards relational safety, engage in open, honest and non-judgemental communication, along with learning ways to support each other when triggered/ dysregulated. It’s important to remember that each of us has the potential for both harmful behaviours and positive change. This understanding is crucial in moving beyond labels, and embracing the full spectrum of our shared humanity.

Navroop Sood is a trauma therapist, and founder and CEO of Heal with Nav. She is trained in somatic and EMDR therapy.

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