The Importance of Being True to Yourself and Feeling Heard
Have you ever considered the cost to your health, natural wellbeing and the negative impact in how you feel about yourself , when you sell out of communicating what you’re really meaning and find the opposite to what you’re wanting to say, just popping out of your mouth, seemingly all by itself? What stops us from just ‘saying what we really mean and meaning what we actually say?’
It sounds simple doesn’t it? Well let’s take a look…….
Take a moment to recall the past twenty four to forty eight hours in your normal life and see were there any occasions when you didn’t quite say what you meant to and ended up, for example, having an unnecessary argument, saying yes to doing something, when you were really a complete no? Have you felt aggrieved by something occurring, but stopped short of expressing what you were feeling, biting your tongue when you felt like putting someone who was treating you badly, firmly in their place? These are rather simplistic examples of the type of situation when we can hold back in a split- second reaction, overruling our natural instincts, sanitising our responses and presenting an acceptable version of ourselves to avoid confrontation or judgement.
There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s human conditioning.
We’ve been taught to play nice, not to rock the boat, to make friends not enemies, to people please, to take care of others feelings etc. Women in particular, have historically been programmed to be caretakers, to nurture others (often to our own cost), leaving us with a background resentment when we sell out on ourselves in favour of others, conflicted between our values for harmony and love and our need to be true to our own experience. Lifetimes of conditioning won’t change overnight but the access to power here, lies in becoming aware of these occasions as they occur, noticing what’s happening in the moment and choosing to be honest in our responses. We need to dare to be real, to challenge the social norms and to honour our own truth, and risk geting it wrong for others, in favour of ourselves.
It may take time, as processing what’s going on for us internally can take a while, if we’re not used to speaking up for ourselves. It’s not only the shy, quiet and compliant people who fall into this people- pleasing trap. Even the most strong- willed amongst us can sometimes be challenged in the moment, so there’s no need for any shame. I would invite you rather to see an opportunity for a new freedom to be, when embracing any dilemmas, with the awareness of choice. I find that while I might want to blurt out my immediate reaction to whatever is triggering me, it really pays to take a moment to check in with myself first. It’s infinitely better to take responsibility for my feelings, communicating from my needs, rather than pointing the finger of responsibility elsewhere. If I fail to do that, a resultant defensiveness may scupper my chances of being heard and achieving whatever outcome I’m hoping for.
People tend to listen better when they are not in the line of fire.
It can be really helpful to ask yourself the following questions
“What am I wanting here?”
“What am I not Saying?”
“What am I afraid of?”
Sometimes, there can be such a strong feeling in a confrontational situation or challenging conversation, that the other person is ‘Wrong’ or ‘Unwilling to Listen’,
that we may fail to realise that our viewpoint, leaves no room for negotiation with this inflexibility in our attitude. So, to loosen that stranglehold of self -righteousness, it can help to flip these questions around and ask the same questions to ourselves regarding whomever else is involved……
“What are they wanting here?”
“What are they not saying? “
“What are they afraid of?”
To get into the mindset of someone with whom we’re feeling ignored or aggrieved, we can begin to understand where they might be coming from and lose some of the rigidity of our own position, finding the expansiveness to resolve whatever challenge or conflict has arisen, with minimal residual harm. All of this, however, requires a certain level of presence in the moment, to allow the choice which can make the difference. So the first practice is to slow down, take a moment, a deep breath, or call time- out, ie whatever you need to get present. From there, you will soon be back in the driving seat, guiding the otherwise runaway train of emotions to a safe destination.