Thursday, July 16, 2009

Say What You Need to Say...

It might be my impression…but it feels like I am pulling that relationship short straw lately. I try not to complain, and it is a failure, in my eyes, to give in to negative thoughts that insist on bombarding my mind, but man is it hard. It is hardest when the slights happen because of people with whom I have lifelong relationships. I watch older women, who I admire most, and I can hardly imagine that their brains even know how to think negatively, and I doubt their reactions to frustration would be anything but acceptance with quiet grace.

I am not quiet and I have only a modicum of grace, so how can I move past the emotions I feel when I perceive that I’m being slighted? My recent solution has been to do what every other woman who is not all that graceful or quiet does: I gossiped, I ranted negatively, and I even held a grudge. That sounds so girly and I hate it. It’s not okay with me that those are the tools I employed when a relationship got stressful, or someone did something that upset me. Why in the world are women wired this way? What evolutionary benefit does this sort of conflict resolution promote?

I guess if there is no real need to create drama with a specific person, you feel a little better having talked about her with a friend instead, but it is such an unattractive behavior, and one I would love to completely abandon. It is hypocritical of me to tell my kids, “It is not nice to talk about someone who is not in the room, unless what you are saying is beneficial,” and to then proceed with that same behavior in conversations with my husband. He is my gossip soundboard. I truly do not call up one friend to talk about another, but rather my frustrations are frequently vented on my husband’s ear.

I realize that it is normal, human behavior to get caught up in the stories of other people and to then express opinion about their lives, especially if you are involved in the drama, but I want to grow past this rut I have let myself dig. I have passively let rifts occur because in recent years, I have remained silent with my offender when I used to express discontent. In my early twenties I thought nothing of confronting someone who was hurting me and expressing my displeasure by imparting my wisdom on them. It was rather ineffectual and often put an even deeper strain on our relationship. I’ve tried other tactics that have left me emotionally drained, but again have proven somewhat futile. So, I have simply just stopped trying, but the emotions are still there, and the ability to communicate thwarted. The long silences don’t work for me either.

The last thing that I want is to become so indifferent that I avoid the hard conversations altogether. I will have completely resigned when I no longer have the energy to talk with someone about difficult topics. So, where to go from here? Objective “I” statements are my new method. When I feel the urge to vent frustrations about relationships that are in a difficult place, I set out to write as many “I” statements as I need so I can begin to verbalize what needs to be said. Example, “I am so angry because I am not getting my way.” “I am sad because I am feeling misunderstood.” My emotions are valid, and my reactions are my responsibility, so I will no longer keep my emotions to myself, but rather approach those sticky relationship issues from my perspective only. No more assumption, no more silence, no more expectation that people can read my mind. I will just say what I need to say.

(As a side note...I will post flower pictures with each blog that is specifically about how I am trying to grow. A badge to remind me)

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