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Entries in values (17)

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

 

Monday
Jan132014

Time flies, stay your path.

How time flies ... how life changes! 

It's been almost a year since I last shared here. So much has happened, yet it's still hard to believe it's been almost a year! Regular life and a few big changes have distracted me from parts of my work and some of the things I value. 

So it is with days, weeks, months and years. We get caught up in the goings-on around us: we neglect to pay attention to the small but important items that hold us together, keep us on track, help maintain the balance - the things we value as important.

In my case, I packed up my life and moved it across the world, reinstalling myself and my family in a new location with new 'everything'. It's taken time and energy and focus away from my Self and my work and placed it on other things that are important to me.

All the while I have been conscious of wanting to get back to this place, because I value the work I do here, I know that it's important to me. I felt nervous all those months wondering how long it might take, and whether I could find my way back - whether the link was strong enough for me to know how to return.   

I consciously gave myself a year: a year seemed like a decent time limit without letting it spill over into two or three or even more (the horror :0)! Putting it off any longer would be giving in to the resistance. Not coming back would be about fear and the disconnection that comes with it. It would also be about denying a part of me I had come to know, and ignoring things I hold as valuable to doing the work I love.

Yes! time flies. Yes! life gets busy. Yes! there are other things to do or concentrate on. Yes! it's not easy to find the way again. Yes! it's scary and challenging and there are much, much easier ways to spend the time.

No! I don't want to give in to the easy option, the fear, the resistance, the distractions.

Yes! I choose to do the things that keep me in balance, keep me on a path that I value, hold me accountable to myself, maintain my authenticity, help me feel. 

Do what you value. When you find yourself distracted, review your values and priorities, sweep aside the excuses and get back on track... even IF it takes almost a year.

Sarah xx

ps I passed with a Distinction :-)

 

 

Sunday
Oct212012

How to stop going mad.

You know that moment … where you start to wonder if you are going mad or “losing it” because you no longer appear to be able to handle the pace of your life, you feel like crying or hiding away somewhere dark and private? It's a sign that your self-care needs ramping up. 

What you are trying to manage right now, what is on your jobs list, what are your responsibilities, what are you carrying with you from the past too (because the more you are carrying from back then, the heavier the load right?).

We might even write it all down … to see it all there on paper, to recognise that it takes a while to get it all in print because there is so much of it.

And let’s be expansive about this. For example, if you are simply going to work each day and coming home, eating dinner and going to bed then perhaps you are assessing your life as pretty much what it's always been. But to get the full story you will need to go a step further and write about whether you like your job; you are eating in a way you want to be eating; you are sleeping a full night; you are waking up feeling refreshed from sleep and so on.  

Once you have your list and have expanded on it, take the time to look at the list and ask yourself “what else is going on?” – this will help you understand that while the day-to-day activities may not have changed or increased a great deal, your response to them has. 

Start by doing just this, for now. It’s enough.

To begin being conscious of what your life involves (not just the activities but your feelings and responses to them) is a step in sorting out why you feel like you are losing it/not coping. 

It’s a step towards self-awareness and self-care. 

Any step in that direction is life-changing. 

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
Jul162012

Shut-down vs sharing into the big, loud, silence.

The responses to this recent post have been few and varied: private emails; public posts; one or two phonecalls; and the rest has been about big, loud, silence.  While that silence could be enough to convince many of us that shut-down is preferable, there is a point at which shut-down becomes scarier than sharing. 

Many of us take the plunge and tell someone about the ‘stuff’ inside us… in the hope of being heard.  Many of us take that risk only to find that we are free falling into the big, loud, silence – or the discomfort of others as they change the subject, grapple for words to respond to us, tell us about their experiences instead, avoid us, tell us we are imagining it or that someone else has it worse than us, or that we just need to ‘get over it’. 

Once we have risked it once and found the vulnerability and silence too much to bear – what next? We push it down, we deny it, we take it to mean there is something wrong with us, we resolve to ‘sort it out’, we make a note-to-self not to tell anyone else … we begin the shut-down. 

Gradually we become skilled at the shut-down … until the day when we are not. The day when it starts to leak. The day when we turn to alcohol, drugs, food, work, sex, co-dependent relationships, self-harm in all its forms, anything we can find that stops the leak – even temporarily. 

Even with our new ‘coping skills’ we struggle along, battling the truth at every turn, convincing ourselves that shut-down is the only solution – because telling someone, sharing, sitting in the discomfort of our feelings is waaaaay too scary...

... until shut-down becomes scarier than sharing. Until we cannot stem the leaks anymore. Until we are watching as our life starts to morph around us.

Then we realise that that shut-down is no longer a solution.

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

Are you there yet? 


Sarahxx