To Embrace the Discomfort
“We were created for connection, for intimacy and to experience being known, so it’s no wonder our greatest fears likely fall into the areas of rejection, loneliness, and letting others down. The paradox lies here-- in order to experience connection and intimacy in relationship with others and ourselves it asks of us to be vulnerable with a willingness to show up and be seen. Vulnerability requires courage to risk the very things we fear in order to gain
what our hearts long for most.”
I learned when I was really young to just agree- if I want to avoid the lecture, the demeaning words, the conflict, the argument, the being wrong, simply AGREE to whatever it is is being thrown at me. Even if it’s not my truth or I have other thoughts and ideas if I agree (dishonoring or lying to my truth) then there's less pain and risk in the potentially escalating circumstances.
For many years of my marriage, if I felt the slightest tension in a conversation, I’d suddenly back away. I’d turn inward, suppress, go silent and immediately agree. Meanwhile, my husband was trying to determine where I’d gone!
Fast forward a few weeks or months later and something would come up- it’d be just enough to break me and I’d explode- in volcanic proportions. All the emotions would come flush to the surface, it’d all come pouring out and it could be over something SO trivial, logically it didn’t make any since.
It wasn’t until I began to notice this pattern that I was able to interrupt what had become predictable (my tendency to flee and shove my emotions underground) and then learn to trust not only my intuition but the value I could bring to a conversation. Doing this, I’ve also experienced that speaking up isn’t always welcomed with listening ears, and that too is quite alright. It doesn’t reflect the value of what I have to say or what I have to bring to the conversation at all!
Maybe you can relate? I kindly refer to this as my “agree to flee” default. When this happens, it’s typically because I’ve made up a story justifying why this is my best choice available. You see, I don’t want to risk compromising the relationship, hurt you, make the other person upset, start a fight, give you reason to think I’m crazy, or believe I’m selfish, dumb, etc.
While what was more true was, I would agree in order to remain right in whatever judgements I held of myself or the judgements opinions I held of others and their actions.
What I realized was in my avoidance, rather than staying connected and in harmony, I was experiencing greater disconnection, frustration, broken relationships and choosing resentment.
What I know is true:
speaking up and following my intuition or that little voice inside my head is good.
Harmony and connection come when I am honest to myself and with others sharing honestly what’s on my mind rather than minimizing or omitting them and then resenting the other person for the decision that was made or the growing frustrated with the resulting outcome.
How conversations can
The other morning my husband awoke to an email about taxes (fun right). Well this email signified that we’d be owing FAR MORE taxes than we had originally anticipated or planned for.
We’d done our calculations and set aside what we thought we would owe, but for whatever reason the number being requested was MUCH larger than either of us had anticipated. Great.
The conversation I had (in my head) was, “Well that’s weird, maybe there was an accounting error. Someone could have miscalculated a number somewhere, before we figure out how to handle this or stress over HOW it’s going to work- let’s ask to confirm numbers.”
Meanwhile, he continues, “I know they (the accountant and tax peeps) are really busy, I don’t want to bother them. I may have misunderstood the numbers so I’m going to work on putting things in order and figuring out how to come up with the remaining balance we owe. We can figure it out after tax season settles down. (Conversation in my head, “This is going to require quite a lot of time and effort on his and others involved”.
A year ago, I would have gone along with his idea, while sitting in my meta- conversation of “how ridiculous that idea was and how I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t just shoot an email over and ensure there wasn’t an accounting mistake… “ all the while, building up feelings of frustration and resentment towards him.
Instead that morning, I spoke into what seemed like an uncomfortable conversation to breach ( knowing if it did turn out to be an accounting error, I’d be more frustrated and it could breed more tension down the road). So I spoke up, ”Well that’s not good. What if the accountant made a mistake? Maybe there’s a missed calculation. Before we go to the fuss of getting the additional monies together, would you email and ask?”
When it was met with some frustration I simply repeated my request for him to send an email to confirm the calculations, but that I also trusted he would take care of it and I appreciated him doing what he saw would be best.
Fast forward a few hours later into the day.
My Husband, “I got an email back from the accountant, they’d misfigured what we owed, it’s back to what we’d originally calculated, so can you.. xyz.”
Me: “Sure thing, thanks so much for sending that email.”
How often I sit back and quietly watch, yet not so quietly as I have a “conversation” with myself or to others about how frustrated, ridiculous, out of hand, etc. something or someone is?
Had I just remained in that meta-conversation- the outcome of this particular event would have been SO different. It would have opened the door for frustration to root between us and shame and discontent to be planted within myself.
Rather than cause divide or another disagreement later- stepping into the conversation brought solutions, new possibilities and connection- not only to our taxes but to the way we relate with one another.
If you were to pause for a moment and reflect- is there a conversation that you’ve avoided having because you “KNOW” the outcome? Was there a time that you withheld how you truly felt or agreed with what was said rather than contributed to the conversation at hand? You may even have a laundry list of reasons as to why, and yet I’d love to invite you to consider looking at the conversation in a new way.
Had you chosen to speak up or be honest with yourself and the other person as to what you were feeling (not what they made you feel), what new possibilities and outcomes could that conversation have had? What else could be possible in the most uncomfortable of conversations? I’d love to hear your experiences below!