So often, people are careful to not offend anyone with their comments or opinions. What is so bad about disagreeing with someone? Respectful communication doesn't mean we always agree. Censoring everything we say, so as to not offend, is one of the ways we become exhausted.
"Mary" was raised in a family where the unspoken rule was "don't make waves". She is a smart, funny and talented woman. When I met her, she had many ideas that she has never shared with her husband. Mary and her husband "Dave" came to see me because they had become empty nesters. With their children gone, they found things awfully quiet between them. Mary felt sad and alone. Dave said he wished he knew how to "make her happy".
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We explored two areas, communication skills and looking at world views. The couple rediscovered their connection. Dave learned that Mary was reticent to share opinions, because of decisions she made early in life that it was safer to be quiet. He began to ask her opinion on things. She became more willing to share her opinions with him as she saw that Dave was a considerate listener. In fact, they discovered that they enjoyed a healthy debate over an issue and valued the input of someone with a different perspective.
When we ended our sessions, they both remarked that one of the best things they were taking with them was to be curious, rather than think you know what the other person will say or do. Dave said that this skill had transferred well to his relationship with his elderly father, too.
Mary commented that she was glad she had had the courage to tell Dave how she had been feeling. She had found being a mind reader rather exhausting!
Speaking our truth is something many of us are trained not to do as children. Unlearning this lesson is one of the keys to living Your Authentic Life!
Things To Try:
* Make a date with a friend or loved one to ask their opinion on something. Be curious about what they say.
* Agree to disagree. Say "you could be right. Can we discuss this further at another time? Please recommend something I can read on this subject".
* Talk with your loved one about some of the lessons you learned as a child that you are working on overcoming, as well as those that have served you as an adult
* Make a commitment to being a good listener, rather than preparing your next remark while someone speaks.
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* Speak up about what matters to you.
* Read the work of other outspoken folks.