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May 8, 2016

The Kindest (and Scariest!) Thing You Can Do For Someone Else

Getting a little woo woo on you today, but I have something super important I want to address (and it’s not about workouts or nutrition, so if you’re only here for those, you’ll want to stop reading right now ;)).

Today I want to talk about mindset. Particularly honesty.

I have to admit that the practice of honesty has not always been something I’ve focused on. Yes, I have always endeavored to tell the truth, in theory, and have 99% of the time in my life, but there has been one place I have not always done my best as it pertains to clear communication, and that is in my closest relationships.

Not that I have so much as lied, but instead … withheld.

I’ve withheld my feelings at times. I’ve withheld my thoughts about some things at times. I have withheld my true desires at times. I have withheld 1% of the truth (lie of omission) so as to not disrupt or cause upset or “ruffle feathers.”

In the past, I have withheld my truth to some of my loved ones because telling the truth felt really risky.

Now, this isn’t a confessional—in fact, I have worked through 99% of my issues with speaking my truth and having the courage to let the chips fall, but I wanted to discuss something that can be a huge source of frustration for many, and that is clear communication—saying exactly what you mean and then releasing attachment to what happens as a result.

I think growing up, we are taught to placate and please and flatter and “keep the peace” because when we are agreeable, we are well-liked, accepted.

There are whole books dedicated to the art of being liked, like ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ and ‘The Psychology of Persuasion’ and such. Not to mention the thousands of marketing books that teach us how to sway and connect and say the right thing at the right time.

Not that there’s anything “wrong” with this stuff, it’s just that over time, we can become so caught up in the need to please and be accepted and not ruffle feathers, that we teach ourselves to swallow our emotions, put our needs aside, let things slide or just agree so as to not have to deal with the tough stuff.

I spend many years holding my tongue, not out of a fear of acknowledging my own truth to myself, but fear that if I spoke it aloud, there would be consequences. I was terrified of how it would be received and how my loved ones might view me.

  • What if I said something that upset them? I’d have to manage that.
  • What if I said something that caused them to leave me? That seemed way worse than just keeping it to myself and not risking anything.
  • What if I said something that changed how they felt about me? I’d be devastated.
  • What if something I said disappointed them? I’d have to deal with the fallout.

I wasn’t scared of my truth. I was scared of the potential uncomfortable and painful outcomes that might have transpired if I verbalized it.

I was scared to lose the love or admiration or respect of someone I cared about. I was scared to lose the relationship. And on top of that, I’d have to deal with their pain, anger, discomfort, THE FALLOUT. Omitting seemed easier.

Until it wasn’t sustainable anymore, and the relationships I had cultivated looked so different from what I initially envisioned, that I had to admit my part in creating them. Besides, my loved ones where only interacting with me in the way I had taught them to. By walking on eggshells and holding my tongue, I was teaching people to treat me in a certain way—a way that was not true for me.

I had to start taking ownership for my relationships. My relationships are my responsibility, aren’t they?

In his book ‘The Truth’ author Neil Strauss says, “We lie because what someone doesn’t know can’t hurt us.”

I was floored when I read that, because it’s so dang true: telling our truth is scary because if the person receiving it doesn’t like it, it must mean there’s something wrong with us. We risk alienation, rejection, hurt, pain, uncertainty, etc.

Gah, this stuff is so juicy!

But it all comes down to the courage to communicate with clarity, doesn’t it?

I spent 2 years talking with my friend Jillian about the same issue I was having, and her answer was always, “Well, have you said something? Did you say that? Did you communicate that clearly?”

And I would always say, “Well, no, I didn’t say THAT!” Ha!

Too risky!

I’d vent to my girlfriends and then NOT have the conversation with the person(s) it pertained to.

Can you see how this, while understandable, was also not moving me forward?

Honest communication would have moved things. But the scary part was that I didn’t know in what direction it would move things. It was uncertain, unknowable.

So it seemed safer to choose the familiar (yet miserable) path of not being honest, then to risk what might have happened if I was.

But it’s unsustainable. Whether for a month, a year or 20 years.

Walking on eggshells is no way to live, and we get in trouble when we blame the other person for things they don’t know they’re doing that upset us. We can’t blame them when we haven’t expressly stated our preferences clearly and without emotion.

And when we do? The chips fall. Whatever is going to happen, happens. And then it’s the other person’s move.

Clear communication allows for everyone involved to have all the information so that choices can be made accordingly.

There are no guarantees of how someone will react when you speak your honest truth, but there is immense growth, and trust (and relief!) in the practice of allowing them to have their honest response and you to endure it.

Gals, the people closest to us are our greatest teachers.

We can learn so much about ourselves by interacting with our friends, loved ones, our partner, etc. And it all comes down to us, doesn’t it? Waiting on other people to change so that we can be happy is a terrible strategy.

Start with an honest conversation with yourself, and when you are ready, find the courage to share it with those closest to you—they deserve to have the full experience.

Besides, how can we expect someone to love us for who we are when we haven’t shown them who we are?

Some food for thought! Xo, Jill

Ready for a deep-dive into mindset work? I just released my brand new FREE email series, #JuicyJourney where I’ll be sending out weekly mindset insights and tools (and lots of just musings that might be a little triggering, just a heads up), only for those who are ready to go deep and tackle #RadicalResponsibility head on. Sign up FREE here.

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