This week I set some new boundaries with people I love.
I asked for what I wanted, knowing it would be counter-cultural.
It wasn’t easy. I was scared.
Normally, I’d just manage the conflict internally, and not “get real” with myself or others about what I actually wanted. I’d tell myself I was meeting my needs for ease, peace and harmony by not bringing things up or asking for what I wanted.
And, in some ways that is true.
But, not rocking the boat also came at the expense of my integrity and self-trust.
As I was deliberating over whether or not to express an inner truth that was increasingly clear to me, but still scary to say out loud, I realized something:
What often inhibits me from personal truth-telling, is my fear about how the other person or other people might take it. I imagine their rage, their hurt, their strong feelings, their shame, and since I don’t want to “hurt them” or “upset them” I would habitually self-silence.
So, what made this week different?
In my agonizing over whether it was “worth” saying something, a friend of mine reminded me to, “Just speak your truth, ask for what you want, set the limit, and then empathize.”
It’s so simple, really, isn’t it?
I sometimes forget that no matter how someone reacts or “takes it,” no matter what gets triggered in them, that I can always stay in my own lane and simply switch into empathic, empowered listening.
When I trust myself to stay with connection and empathy, instead of getting derailed by defensiveness:
- I no longer mold myself proactively to avoid reactions and judgments
- I no longer apologize for or defend my own preferences
- I no longer worry that we will split off or disconnect, because I trust myself to remain present to others’ reactions by empathizing with their feelings and their deeper needs.
These new choices each lead to a great sense of inner freedom and ease.
- Express your limits
- Ask for what you what
- Set a boundary
- Empathize, and stay in relationship with those who matter to you.
So this week, I leave you with my new mantra:
Just speak my truth with kindness and courage.
Then empathize, no matter how they take it.