In a recent blog, I talked about undoing years of negative self-talk and negative false beliefs. If you have not done so already, take a few minutes to give it a read.
During the last seven/eight years of building better stories for myself, I had to have a lot of tough conversations. Well, what I had told myself initially would be tough anyway.
There were things I let go of for so long; by not saying anything, I was basically saying it was OK. The thing is, people don’t know what we don’t tell them.
Before starting my journey, I caused myself a lot of internal dis-ease. I would keep many thoughts to myself and/or back down when I had much more to say. During the times in life, I was incredibly open and said what I needed to say; I would often second guess myself and replay the conversation in my head of what I “should have” done differently. I often attached negative thoughts to these conversations, which in turn caused an enormous amount of anxiety.
It was a HORRIBLE cycle that I was in for all too many years.
But here is the thing, the conversations I needed to have really had nothing to do with the other person. They were just who they are. It came down to me, the things I wasn’t saying, and the negative stories I was building up about them/the situation. See, I believe that some people are just not healthy for us, and in turn, we may not be healthy for that other person. It does not mean they are wrong, or we are right. It just means that, however, our personalities work together is not empowering for either of us. There were/are people in my life and journey that I have completely disconnected from, and there are others I minimize my time with to stay in my healthy, energetic space.
There are also a handful of people I wanted to remain in my life and knew to do so and maintain a healthy demeanor about myself. I had to have conversations with them, establish boundaries, and create a safe space to share feelings openly. I’ll go more into this in a future post.
One person was a huge part of my life and would often make sarcastic remakes about things I would say. I was always the butt of the joke when this person was around. Worse, when they were around, they did not think twice about doing this in front of my son. They would often criticize the way I am a go-go-go type of person. I LOVE to get things done. I can’t say that I recognized it as a trigger right away, but I can say shortly into my healing journey that I quickly noticed how quickly this person could spark things I didn’t want to feel anymore. I knew, for me, I had to disconnect to a large extent. It took time, but I took our communication from frequent to rare.
Reminder, this doesn’t make them wrong or me right; it makes us different, perhaps incompatible people! I could have stood up more for myself or politely asked them to stop at every point along the way.
The conversations that led up to me standing up for myself with this person were not always easy, quite the opposite. I don’t remember exactly how I started them, but I can tell you it was messy, and I know it frustrated them, but I get it; for over a decade, I didn’t say anything in moments when I could of. And, I can tell you with the work I had done, finally learning to say something to this person in moments when I would have normally kept my mouth shut, well it felt good.
It felt good just to be me!
Do you have people in your life that tend to get you down? Perhaps conversations with them stir up anxiety, second-guessing, self-doubt, negativity? First things first, you need to decide if this is what you want? Are you OK with this relationship, or do you want to change it? There is no wrong answer, only the right answer for you!
If you want to make a change with the people you are around, try these steps:
Know what outcome you are trying to achieve. If this is someone you genuinely want to stay in your life, but you know it needs to come with healthier conversations, say that.
Look back to times in life; you have proved your ability to do this. In my career, I was always either talking to/with customers, employees, etc. I was always communicating with people and having conversations of all sorts. This served as a great reminder for me to have the same level of conversation with people who were closer to me.
Take the “label” off what type of conversation it is; it is just a conversation, that’s it.
Be cautious not to place fault or blame. This will more than likely put up a defense in the other person and, in turn, reduce the potential of having an open conversation.
I got really good at starting conversations with something like, “this may come out wrong but here goes.” This takes the focus off the other person and allows you to take accountability for what you say and how you say it.
There were times with certain people I would openly say, “this is tough for me to say/bring up.”
Use phrases such as “When you say (fill in here) I interpret that as (fill in here), is that the way you meant it? You guys, there are often times we interpret things far differently than other people mean it. I really believe most people would never intentionally harm another person! For example, in my situation, it went something like, “when you criticize me in front of my son, I take it as you saying I am not smart enough or do not know how to raise him, is that how you mean it?
Be prepared for how you will respond if the person means to say and talk in the way they do. This will be the point when you want to decide if you want the emotions, anxiety, etc. that it brings you. You DESERVE a healthy life with good strong supportive relationships!
Celebrate the fact that you had the conversation and recognize your abilities
Stay true to your voice, feelings, and thoughts; whatever they are, you get to own them, be sure they are what you want!