As I’m writing these blogs, it’s becoming clear to me just how paralyzed I have been in so many areas of life. Not only do I get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’, but I’ve been paralyzed in communication from such a young age.
Ever since I can remember, it’s been difficult for me to assert my needs and boundaries. The interesting thing is I’ve never had a problem with being confrontational, or sharing my opinions and beliefs. So what gives? What is the key differentiator that separates the occasions when I’m outspoken vs. unable to verbalize my needs?
Avoiding things that risk my self-esteem, or ego.
As I speculate, one thing that comes to mind is Risk. It’s easy to share my thoughts and feelings on subjects I feel particularly passionate or knowledgeable about, i.e. I feel confident I’m not going to appear foolish. It’s also easy for me to share in social situations in which I feel safe, unthreatened, or socially dominant.
However, when it comes to scenarios where there may be a risk to my esteem and ego, or risks a relationship I care about (professional or personal), suddenly I’m mousey, and revert to a childlike version of myself. As a result of not asserting my beliefs and needs, I develop resentment, frustration, and diminished sense of worth.
Other repercussions include the breakdown of many relationships/friendships, staying in certain relationships for far too long, dissatisfaction in my work/career, feeling like I “never” get what I want, feeling like I’m GIVING too much, and just a general feeling of unease.
By not asserting my boundaries, which I see as the healthy walls we must put up to keep happiness IN, I end up building a different kind of boundary – the kind that keeps happiness OUT.
For ease of distinction, let’s label the latter as “Borders”; the primary definition of which according to Oxford Dictionary is, “A line separating two countries, administrative divisions, or other areas.” Keyword: separating.
Borders, boundaries, walls, the elephant in the room, whatever you choose to call it, the results are the same: they build a barrier between you and other people. Between you and love. Between you and what really matters. They get in the way of you getting what you truly want. Build a border high enough, and eventually you’ll block out any sunlight from getting in; light that is essential to your growth.
It becomes easy to be cynical and resentful of others.
That doesn’t mean walking around being a total A-hole with disregard for other people’s feelings. But it does mean cutting the bullshit that WILL eventually break the relationship down, anyway.
To tell you from personal experience, it feels so much better to finally air out your truth. Truly. The liberation and lightness you feel after unloading a truth will have you dancing down the street—EVEN if it costs you the relationship.
Is it easy? Nope. Is it risky? Yep. Nerve-wracking, exciting, scary, makes you feel alive? Yep, yep, yep, and yep. Does it put your relationships at risk? Yes! It absolutely may.
Here’s the thing: a relationship sustained on half-truths and resentment is no relationship at all. You are not doing anyone any favours by holding back. That doesn’t mean walking around being a total A-hole with disregard for other people’s feelings. But it does mean cutting the bullshit that WILL eventually break the relationship down, anyway. And if it’s not the relationship that breaks down, it will be your happiness, quality of life, and well-being that does.
Bullshit takes no prisoners, my friends. And for the most part, healthy relationships are able to withstand truthful and authentic communications.
What truthful and authentic communication includes:
- Open listening without internal dialogue
- Genuine curiosity
- Respect for myself and others
What truthful and authentic communication DOESN’T include:
- A fixed point of view
- Assumption – including any unconfirmed “intuitions”
- Expectation or setting the other person up to fail
- Labelling the other person, or their actions
- A fixed agenda
8 times out of 10, when I’m communicating from a place that is truthful and authentic, I am able to come to a new understanding with the other person or people, and resolve any issues/concerns at hand. Even when things don’t work out, expressing your truth—your needs, wants, boundaries, feelings and concerns—is completely rewarding on its own.
People aren’t mind-readers!
Expressing your truth also makes it SO much easier for the people in your life to actually contribute to your happiness! Instead of making them the reason for your unhappiness.
Can YOU read minds with 100% accuracy? If not, you should probably stop expecting others to read yours.