What Is Attunement? Why Does It Matter?
Whether one or both people in a relationship feel recognized and nurtured is influenced by a crucial component. It applies to many kinds of relationships, including therapeutic and familial ones as well as romantic and platonic ones. Without it, misunderstandings, arguments, and damaged feelings are frequent. Attunement is that element.
A two-person experience of unbroken feeling connectedness is created by attunement, which is defined as a "kinesthetic and emotional sensing of others, knowing their rhythm, affect, and experience by metaphorically being in their skin, and going beyond empathy by providing a reciprocal effect and/or resonating response.
In one single line, a lot is happening. However, "sensing," empathy," and "connection" are some of the buzzwords. Combining them, you could argue that attunement is the awareness of another person's experience and the use of empathy (together with action) to forge a relationship. Reading someone else's "emotional room" is another way to phrase it. It involves recognizing when someone else needs comfort versus space. Knowing when to help your spouse succeed versus when to let them fail is important. If that seems challenging, it is. It requires intentional practice and is an acquired talent.
Childhood is the first-time attunement occurs (or does not). When a baby is hungry, weary, or has a poopy diaper, they are unable to verbally express their feelings. The primary caregiver must make that determination and take appropriate action. The "good enough [parent]" principle, which states that responding to an infant responsively and sensitively over time enables the infant to be appropriately dependent and to transition to an increasingly more autonomous position, comes into play in this situation. However, attunement continues throughout a person's life and is not limited to infancy. Understanding another person's sentiments is important, but so is acting in a way that is suitable.
It's one thing to hear a child crying and respond, "Oh, they're hungry," but quite another to actually feed them. Adults are the same way. Empathy is a great starting point that piques interest in another person's perspective, but it can only be used so far. Attunement is produced by action, even if that action is simply listening. I'm not saying you need to be able to read someone else's thoughts and predict their needs. You shouldn't also assume what someone else is feeling. In mature, adult relationships, communication and checking in are constant priorities.
A word of warning: Attunement can be overused to the point that one becomes codependent or someone who depends on being needed. A codependent is someone who has a tendency to swoop in and compulsively give to others. There is a sense of sacrifice associated with codependency—the individual may be sacrificing their time, their energy, or even their sense of self. I'm not in favor of that. Successful, secure relationships depend on having healthy boundaries, which involves accepting that everyone has limitations, including you.
Instead, emotional attunement includes having the mindset that you and your partner are teammates. Together, you are navigating your emotions—both good and bad—and helping one another out. When this isn't done, it amounts to a type of desertion and damages the relationship's trust. Building rapport and trust requires attunement. So how can you develop emotional sensitivity?
How to Practice Emotional Attunement?
1. Locate a safe place.
Safety is a necessary stage for emotional attunement. The attunement will be hard if you don't feel safe expressing your emotions. Both vocal and nonverbal cues can establish safety. You will quickly discover that the person you are in a relationship with—whether it a friend, a coworker, or a parent—is not a safe person for you to be furious with if they shut down and emotionally retreat anytime you exhibit anger. It will be worse than holding your anger within, so you won't want to let them know how you're feeling.
The safe expression of your own emotions is connected to safety. You're not a safe person to be around if you hit the wall when you're angry either. In order to be emotionally attuned, you must feel your emotions, even when you wish to ignore them, and do so without doing any harm. That can entail requesting space when necessary and telling your partner about it. It might also entail collaborating with a qualified expert.
2. Before you speak, listen.
Pay close attention to what the other person is saying rather than planning your next move. Giving someone your whole attention shows them that you are interested in what they are going through, which is essential for emotional attunement. By not centering yourself in the conversation, that is, by not making the topic about you and what you can give, you are also sending the message that others are important.
3. Ask Questions
Although attunement may resemble mind reading, I assure you that it does not! If you don't comprehend something the other person is saying, ask them a question. It makes them feel seen and understood. It shows that you are there for them because you are really interested in finding out how they are doing.
4. Practice Observing
The truth is that sometimes our feelings are hidden from us or our appearances don't reflect our inner selves. You've probably seen someone who claims to be fine but is obviously not. You can infer the other person's emotions and respond appropriately by observing nonverbal signs such as posture, facial expressions, and energy levels. In order to avoid making assumptions, it's also crucial to make inquiries when you observe nonverbal indications in this situation. For example, "I've noticed that you're lying down quite a bit. Are you tired? Or is there another issue?
5. Share the truth
Being on the same emotional wavelength as someone, or experiencing their reality, is a big aspect of emotional attunement. If your partner is depressed by losing the job they detested, express your own dejection by saying, "I hear you. It seems like you're depressed. If you say, "That's awesome, babe! Your partner won't feel seen, heard, or understood if you say, "You didn't enjoy that work anyhow!". Even if you disagree with them, showing that you comprehend their feelings would help a lot.
6. Recognize your triggers.
There are certain things that everyone is sensitive to. A physical symptom like going bald or a traumatic event like being cheated on could be the cause. Whatever it may be, it's critical to be aware of your triggers so you can let your partner know about them. By doing this, you'll help yourself resist the want to respond, and you two might be able to avoid stepping into an emotional minefield. To help you know what to avoid or how to support your partner in feeling safe, urge your partner to disclose their triggers as well (if that's suitable).
7. Seek Therapy
It requires work to become emotionally attuned, both as a process and talent. While it won't happen overnight, there are steps you can take right now to feel more connected to the people in your life and vice versa. Share this post with them so you can create a satisfying connection with each other.
Seek Online Therapy consultation with the Best psychologists in India, Online Counsellors for emotional attunement at TalktoAngel No1. Mental Health & Counselling Platform in India and the Asia Pacific today!
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