Recently I found myself in a sticky conversation that caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting the other person to communicate with me in the way that he did. I didn’t know how to respond at first and told him I’d need some time to reflect on what he’d said.
Then I felt into my body to unpack what had been uncomfortable for me in our interaction and what would feel more comfortable. I thought about how to express myself and respond in an honest and respectful way.
When we met again, I shared my felt sense with as much care and sensitivity as I could while also being clear and firm about where my boundaries lay. He listened carefully to what I’d said. We talked a while more than agreed how we would continue our interactions moving forward.
The Relationship Status Quo
This was the kind of conversation I would’ve sidestepped and avoided responding to directly in the past. I thought that if I communicated with someone openly and shared my feelings, they would freak out, get angry, reject or laugh at me. It was freeing in this instance to be able to feel into, acknowledge then express what I felt. It strengthened my confidence and sense of self. It helped me feel more connected and at ease within myself and with him.
Previously, I would’ve gotten caught in an excruciating tussle of wanting to please someone at that moment and just gone along with what they’d said. It would’ve never crossed my mind to consider my own needs, wants and feelings. I didn’t want to be vulnerable or exposed. I thought it would be safer if I didn’t say anything and just went along with what everyone else wanted.
I wanted to avoid any awkwardness and risk of being disliked, judged or upsetting another. Instead, all that happened was I created discomfort and dissonance within myself because I was ignoring my own needs and wants. I couldn’t avoid the sense that I wasn’t living as a whole person or being fully present in my life by not including myself in the equation.
Not advocating for my needs and wants also chipped away at my self-respect, self-care and safety. It even landed me in some very compromising and potentially dangerous situations which I thankfully survived, though not without some visible scars both inside and out.
It was a relief to have done things differently this time by feeling into what I wanted and was comfortable with, then expressing it. I valued myself in this interaction and was hopeful for a new way of being in a relationship.
But the winds of destiny didn’t let me rest on my laurels for long.
The Second Act
About a week after, a family member went back on an agreement which left me feeling resentful and upset. This was not the first time she’d done that so it triggered my previous feelings of disappointment. It also made me feel very jaded about our relationship and what was possible or rather not possible between us.
Again I took time out to reflect, feel into this situation and make my way through the muddied mess of my confusion and frustration with wise, compassionate friends and mentors.
This brought gifts of comfort and insight.
I sat with the wisdom of a healer who advised me that people can love us and be supportive but also let us down unexpectedly.
I appreciated the sympathies of another friend who agreed this was a tough situation and she could understand my frustrations. Feeling heard by her helped to ease and validate the intensity of my emotions.
Then a shift began to emerge from within me. A feeling that it might be worth trying to communicate from a place of respect and openness once again, to give said family member the benefit of the doubt.
So I did, explaining my perspective while also asking what she felt comfortable with. She responded softer as well and we came to another agreement, which while it wasn’t entirely what we both wanted, seems to work best at this time.
Sometimes we come across challenging relationship interactions and they catch us off guard. We may feel overwhelmed, confused, afraid or stuck. We may get angry, feel rage even hate and want to hit out at the other person. It’s entirely human and understandable to have these feelings and thoughts.
Have you had any of these types of situations come up for you?
How have you dealt with them?
You might find it helpful to take a moment to reflect the next time you find yourself in a challenging place in your relationship with a partner, friend or family member.
Reach out to someone you trust whom you can safely open up to. Someone you know can offer support, help or a fresh perspective. Feel into your body and heart. It’s here your truth lives. Find space and stillness then respond with sensitivity and consideration, for yourself and the other person.
This particular person may not respond or receive you how you wish and the relationship may not transform overnight but by making the effort, you’ll start to transform yourself and your ability to be in relationship.
You’ll feel more ease when you’re showing up in a real and more available way, taking responsibility for yourself and communicating with maturity and honesty.
And what I notice is when you do your part and show up with integrity and respect, you create a deeper peace and freedom for yourself as well as those around you.
And when you are more present you enjoy greater fulfilment and connection in all your relationships and a happier life all around.