Recent blog posts

Entries in honesty (12)

Tuesday
Feb252014

The "how" of those difficult conversations.

I often get asked in sessions and groups about the HOW of speaking to others assertively. Most often the concern is about finding the words to do this in a way that does not make a tricky situation even worse. Above all, we are trying to have our feelings and our concerns heard by others. 

We all, me included, need reminders of helpful ways to have these conversations. I found this excerpt from Quest for Life's founder, Petrea King's, book Your Life Matters – The Power of Living Now. 

The formula of ‘I notice… I imagine… I feel…’ explained below, can be a very useful one for dealing with challenging conversations.  When we use this formula - perhaps not with the exact words - we’re endeavouring firstly, to describe the behavior or the situation that we see is happening.  Secondly, we’re endeavouring to compassionately understand how it might be for the other person, and thirdly, we’re letting the person know how we’re feeling about the situation.  This formula conveys that the other person is not the problem.  It’s as if we stand hand-in-hand together looking at the problem rather than seeing each other as the problem.  Here are some examples of how this formula might be used:

‘I notice that your room is a mess and I’ve asked you three times this week to clean it up.’ (Perhaps this is better directed at your children rather than your partner!)

‘I imagine it is not a priority for you, however, it is for me.’

‘I feel angry and upset that what I’ve asked you to do hasn’t been done.  Can we talk about this, please?’


This approach is very different from screaming at the kids and telling them how hopeless and feral they are. It can work well on the really difficult conversations that we often avoid such as:

Example 1

‘I notice that whenever I want to talk to you about what happened to me when I was a child you change the subject…walk out of the room…go to the fridge…tell me not to be silly…tell me it’s all past history’…or whatever the behavior is.

‘I imagine you don’t want to talk about it because it’s in the past…it’s a painful subject…you think I’m blaming you…’ or whatever you feel compassionately might be the root cause of their dismissal.

‘I feel sad…alone…humiliated…angry…estranged from you…because we don’t seem able to communicate about this subject.  Can we please talk about it together?’

Example 2

‘I notice whenever I want to talk to you about driving more slowly you become angry…speed up…go quiet…get moody…laugh it off.’

‘I imagine that driving fast is something you enjoy…you don’t realize that you’re speeding…that it’s just the way you drive.’

‘I feel really frightened when you drive that way and I’m wondering how we can talk about it together.’


Example 3

‘I notice that when I try to talk to you about the fact that I might die from this disease you change the subject…try and cheer me up…tell me to be positive…tell me I’ve got colour in my cheeks…pour a Scotch…stop me.’

‘I imagine that you might be as frightened of the future as I am…might find it as difficult as I do…are as sad about the possibility as I am…it might be your worst nightmare too…you don’t have words for it either.’

‘I’m feeling more and more alone with my thoughts because you only seem able to hear the “positive” or cheerful parts of me and I need to talk to you because you’re my best friend…I’m sad and lost and want to share my thoughts with you…I’m isolated by my fears and need to talk them through with you…I can’t make arrangements and let you know what I want in the future and I feel anxious about that.’


Example 4

‘I notice that when I’ve mentioned your driving in the past nothing changes…you become angry…you laugh at me and tell me I’m a scaredy cat…you ignore me.’

‘I imagine that my thoughts and feelings on the subject are of little interest to you…an aggravation for you…of no consequence to you.’

‘I feel angry and upset that you ignore my pleas for you to drive more slowly and I’m letting you know that I’ll be making other arrangements to arrive at the destination…I won’t travel with you in the future…I’ll be driving from here on in.’


Sometimes this simple formula is best presented in the form of a letter.  If the subject that you want to discuss is considered a thorny one and conversation about it seems impossible, then putting it in writing can have real benefits - it enables the other person to read your thoughts and react to them privately; they can throw the letter on the floor, re-read it and weep, ignore it or mull over it and come back to you later for a discussion.

Sometimes it is enough to have conveyed the information about how you feel and things begin to change automatically.  And sometimes it’s not even about the other person at all but communicating the feelings fulfils our need to understand and heal our emotional self.  Don’t expect a response from the other person.  If they choose to ignore what you’ve written, then you know more about that person and their ability to respond.  Their response might equally come in the form of a hug, a gesture, a kiss on the cheek or a flower on your pillow.

The important part is that you have fulfilled your responsibility, which is to acknowledge and express yourself in a way that was never intended to wound - our intention is very important.  If there is any intention to wound the other person, there will be a hidden barb in your words.  Make sure your intention is honourable and that it is an honest communication based on the need to share your thoughts and feelings.

I Notice...I Imagine...I Feel I Notice...I Imagine...I Feel (58 KB)

There are plenty of models to choose from when it comes to conflict resolution. This one struck me as both easy to remember, and easy to execute.

What do you think? 

Sarahxx

 

Thursday
Sep062012

Is your motivation is intrinsic?

Setting goals and having dreams is something we are all encouraged to do. Having courage, living our values, doing the work, growing and evolving - we are also encourage to do these. The key to lasting the distance and making sure you move along the journey you want to be on is intrinsic motivation. 

My experience since writing this post has been interesting. Eight years of thinking about it, talking about it sometimes but vaguely, writing about it privately … and then wham – there I am sharing it with the world. After pressing the initial ‘send’ I decided to take it a step further and email the link to my family – knowing that they don’t regularly read my blog meant knowing that this experience was not going to be known by them unless they stumbled upon it.

Then I published the link on FaceBook. Now all the people I have known across the years from school through to now were sharing this piece of my life. Freaky stuff!!

The traffic on my site peaked quickly. I watched it do so, and watched myself racing around my mind grasping for a hiding place … followed quickly by a reminder to myself that this is what I had created and I needed to suck it up, stand in the discomfort and breathe (which I did).

When you put yourself out there (like I did) you have to be quite clear about your motivation for doing so (which I was). There needs to be somehow an understanding of the process that is involved – I don’t mean “how” you are doing it, but more like “why” you are doing it and what it means for your own individual evolution. Yes, large parts of it relate to sharing with others so they know they are not alone - but altruistic notions may not be enough to get you through the cold, lonely, vulnerable, terrifying, incredibly painful and difficult experience of having it ‘out there’

Intrinsic motivation is the key. Do it for your Self. Tie it to a value: self evolution; self witness; self-awareness; letting go … tie it to anything that is for you - and you alone.  That is what intrinsic motivation is. 

Those moments where you want to run and hide will be tough – but if you know that you are doing it in service of a value you hold, you can sit in the vulnerability and know that you are living a whole-hearted, full life. 

 

Sarahxx

Monday
Jul092012

Are they reasons or excuses?

Many of us want our lives to be different; we seek change in our feelings, our behaviour, our life experiences, the results we are getting. 

Many of us don’t know where to start, or how. 

We say “I am not sure, I don’t know if I am ready”.

We fear what will happen if we make a change.

We see the way we are entwined with others; we tell ourselves we don’t make the change because someone else will be affected or won’t like it.

We hesistate.

We resist.

We make excuses.

We find other values to serve – ignoring what is, upon reflection, a higher priority.

We say “I have to work” (because work is a society-sanctioned escape route “work is good”).

 

What are your excuses for not living the life you want? 

What do you want when you are not making excuses or squashing your dreams?


Sarahxx

Saturday
Mar242012

Wolves.

An old Cherokee told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

 

I love this story ... perhaps because it is a simple reminder of how much influence the focus of our attention has on our lives.

Perhaps it helps me understand that the choices I make are up to me, and my responsibility. 

I like the way the meaning goes beyond the idea of good and evil; it relates as effectively to the concepts of negative and positive - or any extremes found in the world.

Maybe it's simply the way it nudges me to check my thinking ... to see which direction I am heading, which wolf I am feeding.

What does it do for you?

sarahxx

 

 


Monday
Mar192012

Do you REALLY want things to change?

And ... how willing are you to make those changes yourself?

If you don't make them who will?

And if you wait around for someone else to make the changes are you willing to accept the type of changes they make?

Perhaps you don't really want anything to change. Perhaps you secretly (or not so secretly) want it all to stay like is - sure that some day soon you will suddenly overcome the difficulty and everything will be OK...

Perhaps you dream that this is just a nightmare ... one you will wake up from. So you wait ... inactive ... hoping something or someone will come along to help you avoid the necessity of having to do anything to make the changes yourself.

How many more times are you planning on 'losing it', falling apart or crashing before you acknowledge that something in your behaviour and your head space needs to change so that you can let go of this mode of living - or half-living and move into living whole-heartedly ... fully ... connected?

Somewhere, sometime, this cycle needs to stop if you are going to climb out of the space you are in right now. 

Change only occurs when the pain of staying the same becomes too great

... are you done yet? 

sarah xx