As you likely know by now, my mission is to help us all learn how to listen, speak and act from the wisdom of our own hearts.
Since life constantly reminds me that speaking my truth is often easier said than done, I’ve accepted that this approach is a lifelong PRACTICE.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that speaking my truth is often hardest when I am surrounded by family (go figure). And since this is the season for family, I am getting lots of practice.
Most recently I’ve been struggling with how to speak my truth when it’s socially awkward or risky to do so. Don’t get me wrong here. If someone harasses or assaults me, my days of remaining silent are long gone. What I’m talking about here are the lesser “evils” that we all have dealt with at some point.
I suspect many of you can relate. Someone at a family gathering says or does something rude or hurtful. What do we do? Speak up? Remain silent?
Speaking up for ourselves may go against the grain of family expectations. No one wants a kerfuffle. Especially during the holidays. So the response is often one of tolerance for the sake of peace. “You know they didn’t mean anything by it. Why don’t you just chill.”
When we choose to speak up, though, we are choosing to set a personal boundary. Saying out loud: “Your behavior is not ok with me.”
Does that make you quiver in your boots?
Even writing about it is hard for me. Silence was the rule in my family. Under no circumstances should anyone rock the boat. Boundaries were non-existent and if one of us tried to establish and hold one, we were shamed and mocked.
It’s no surprise then that the consequences of truth-speaking often scare me into silence.
This is where I was earlier this week. I didn’t know what to do.
So, as I do at the start of every coaching session with my clients, I took a LOTUS pause to discover my heart’s wisdom and focus on what matters.
(If you’re not yet familiar the LOTUS pause, go here for your FREE ebook and guided meditation.)
I hope sharing my LOTUS experience helps you with your own choices.
First, my inner wisdom reminded me that there is no right way to do personal relationships. There’s only the way I choose. (If you remember nothing else from this post, please remember this. Lol)
Then, as I opened my heart, I allowed myself to really feel what I was feeling and accept those feelings without judgment of blame.
I felt hurt and deeply disappointed.
I also didn’t feel safe sharing my feelings directly with the people involved.
What could I do that would honor my own experience?
As I started considering the options, I heard my heart ask “What is your intention?”
Well, there’s a good question. Hmmmm.
My intention is to stand up for myself and stop this kind of behavior. It is not my intention to cut off the relationship entirely. This one matters.
So I asked my heart “how do I honor my intention without creating a lot of drama?”
At this point, the aha’s started rolling.
- I was disappointed in myself for not recognizing the boundary breach as it happened and not speaking up in some gentle way to alert the other person that they were treading on dangerous territory.
- What I really needed was a better boundary.
- Boundary making and maintenance are my job, not anyone else’s.
- This is a dicey place. There is a fine line between acknowledging that I could have done better and bullying myself or taking responsibility for what is not mine.
- If I wanted to do a better job at my end of the relationship, I had to do a better job at maintaining my boundaries.
And in that moment I realized/remembered that I have the power to find a way forward that reflects my heart’s wisdom, not my ego’s desire to win. ahhhh, much better!
Next, I asked myself: How can I stand up for myself and my values and still remain connected to the people I care about?
Perhaps my answer will help you find your own as you navigate the holidays.
Note: I intentionally made this easy. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best not to try out new things during the holidays. lol After all, the goal is to support myself, not create impossible expectations.
- I commit to take time to meditate and ground myself before family holiday events. To connect with my heart so I can be more present to myself and others.
- I am trusting that I will find a firm, gracious and direct way to respond that will allow me to honor myself AND stay connected with those I love. And if I don’t, I will choose silence. Not because I am afraid, but because I value the relationships I have and am making a conscious choice about how to respond, rather than simply reacting.
- Sometime soon, just not now, I will find a way to better communicate my boundaries with the parties involved.
What can you commit to in this moment that will help you have a happier holiday?
Go easy and be gentle with yourself. Do a LOTUS pause and discover your heart’s wisdom.
Get clear with yourself about what you will do, if and when, something happens that triggers you. Look at it not away from it. Trust your own wisdom. Your heart knows what is best. Listen to it’s guidance.
No matter what, please take time to breathe and be present to the wonder. Leave your adult self at home and take an evening walk to look at the lights and holiday decorations. Allow yourself to experience the beauty of this season with all your senses. Repeat as often as possible.
Sending lots of good wishes from my heart to yours for a beautiful holiday season, however you choose to celebrate.
Knowing that you are the light of the world,
p.s. Learning how to set boundaries is one of the keys to creating a life that reflects who you are and what matters to you. It requires a deep level of self-awareness, self-compassion and self-care, among other things. In my upcoming program, EMERGENCE, we will focus on all of these and have the opportunity to practice the art of boundary maintenance in a safe and loving environment. If you want to know more as the details become available, please just comment below and let us know. We’d be honored to have you with us on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.