What We Teach Others by Remaining Stiff Lipped

photo credit: kevinspear.com

Recently I was told by someone I trust that we train people how to treat us by what behaviors we let go and what we stop dead in its tracks.

Skeptical? So was I. Since I’m the type of person that rarely accepts at face value. Who listens, but then does a ton of research and asks a million follow up questions. In my mind, the statement above wasn’t a “fact” until it had been tested. Curious, I volunteered myself as the guinea pig.

I began with analyzing why I get irritated at others. After a fair amount of thought, I discovered that almost every time I felt an uncomfortable vibration inside, it stemmed from my own behavior. My habit of leaving situations or conversations without saying what I was thinking.

Great information.  But what good is insight if you don’t apply learned lessons to day to day life? Which lead me to self introspection step two. What stopped me from speaking my mind and acting on what I was feeling in my gut?

Did I think it was inappropriate? Was I afraid to hurt feelings or offend the other person? Would it be too uncomfortable? Or risky? When confronted would this person walk away from me? Hum…Time to lace up the running shoes, get on the path and do some deep thinking.

A couple of miles later, I came to the conclusion that, at different times, it was all those reasons. Every living, breathing thing is gifted with a voice and with that ability the right to use it. Was the discomfort I experienced when saying something difficult to a friend any less uneasy then the way I felt while irritated? No. Often times it was less.

As far as people turning away, I was right. Some did. But didn’t their departure free up time and energy to explore other activities and relationships? And what if by staying silent and letting others slide I was getting in the way of their personal development? Not to mention reeking havoc on my insides, energy and general outlook.

Step three: An action plan.

Delivery was one-hundred percent of being heard. I won’t lie, speaking my truth wasn’t easy. The trick was to say what needed to be said without anger or malice. I found it much easier to approach each scenario knowing that the universe is a fair and balanced place and what you put out is what you get back. Like most things the straight talk went better the more I practiced. I used a ritual. Relaxed my shoulders, and exhaled to release the tension in my chest. Then, thought the word “balance”. (Breathe, relax, balance.)

In order to be heard and not be harsh or sarcastic, I needed to go back to the basics. Self-examine, and zero in on exactly why I became irritated.

When so-and-so said this, I felt…Angry, hurt, jealous, sad, taken advantage of. (Fill in the blank.)

Or when others acted this way towards me I felt…Deceived, embarrassed, let down, disrespected, wronged, damaged.

With a sense of what was going on with me, I’d run one more self-diagnostic. At the time, I was…Tired, hungry, frustrated, stressed, overworked, overwhelmed.

Had I felt this way before? If so, when?

Once I understood my irritation, both the emotional and the physical, I seemed equipped to bypass my body’s–punch-them-in-the-face–adrenaline moments; say what was on my mind, calm and clear headed.

For example:

If I’m lied to, I might say something like–You get what you give, so if you want to lie, that’s your choice, but understand I can’t go out on a limb for someone I can’t trust.

Or, “You do understand if you lie you are setting yourself up to be lied to back?”

Treated rudely–I say, “Feel better?” No matter how out of control the behavior, this one always gives the person opposite me pause.

Lashed out at– “Do you realize you’ve snapped at an innocent bystander?”

Or “You just shot the messenger.”

Yelled, shouted, or swore at– Look them square in the eyes and say evenly, “I used to act similar. It never worked. Now I handle myself differently.” Shrug. “Your choice.”

In a relationship with someone who is not pulling their weight or doesn’t follow through– “I realize things come up and we all have good intentions, you do understand, though, that when a fellow human goes out of their way for you its a gift. Not something you’re entitled to or to be expected. If you continue with that way of thinking, the people in your life and their gifts will grow weary and turn away, taking their generosity with them.”

Disrespected–“This elder requires to be treated with respect.”

If you get tongue-tied or miss an opportunity, don’t be frustrated. Remember, the act of speaking truths with control, takes practice. Regroup, rerun the scenario in your head. Then wait. Before long you’ll get another chance. After a few exchanges, the exact words you need in a moment will come with little effort.

I used to perceive this recurrence of the same confrontations as bad luck. But I know now, that the universe is giving me the opportunity to train, so I can easily let go of disturbances and move forward.

One last tidbit. This was really important. Never speak your truth expecting any kind of reaction. Say what you have to say to release what’s bugging you, then walk on with no attachment.

Peace, joy, bliss are just around the bend.

EL Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/Risk

Tools for my life journey backpack.

aka The Glamorous Wife

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