A creative blog I wrote over on our Motoroaming website has caused a real challenge for me this weekend. The Confessions of a Travelling Introvert was a heart-felt reflection of our travels and its impact on my introvert personality. Little did I know that it was a huge trigger for one of my readers, who we had met six months previously.
A cryptic comment on my post had me spiralling into uncertainty, doubt and anxiety, as it became clear that, reading between the lines, the commenter had been affected by my introversion in a meeting back in March. Her comment drove me into action; I emailed her directly so I could explore exactly what her comment meant and discover the nature of her discontent.
Her response floored me; my self-esteem took a tumble and my head took charge from my heart as I tried to piece together the nature of our meeting. As tears flowed and anxiety grew, Myles tried to comfort me as I recoiled into my old people-pleasing behaviour patterns, where guilt, shame and self-deprecating thoughts rule. Up until now those devils had been well and truly locked up in their cage.
Isn’t it interesting how quickly those old demons can resurface if we don’t keep them in check?
Night called me to rest and see things in a different light come morning. And indeed after a good sleep and a meditative morning walk where I rehearsed my response I felt resilient and calm. So I drafted a note and talked it through with Myles to ensure I wasn’t over dramatising the situation and after a couple of emails between us the situation has been put to bed. Within the space of 12 hours I have navigated the situation assertively, quickly and appropriately, unlike my former-self, who would have dwelt on it for days and allowed it to seriously penetrate my self-worth.
The reason for writing this blog is so I could share the approach I took to recover from this situation and the accusations that certainly stung. Here is what I did and didn’t do to move from crisis to calm in twelve hours – baring in mind that I’m still a recovering people-pleaser. Whether you have a difficult relationship to mend, a challenging interaction to manoeuvre around or some feedback that you need to deal with, these strategies could help you find happiness in between the suffering patterns that we allow to exist.
- When a tricky situation arises, take time to absorb what has happened and, where appropriate try to explore the complete nature of the situation and how the other person feels/felt. Cryptic words do nothing for a harmonious relationship, so trying to get to the bottom of what someone is trying to say is really important, even if the response hurts.
- If you can leave your response until the next day, so that you have time to process what has happened and sleep on it. This way you will have a much more dispassionate response. Often when something upsets us, we move immediately into defence mode and this threatens the harmony of our relationship or the interaction. So allowing yourself to ‘cool off’ is vital. We always see things very differently in the cold light of day.
- Be present with how you feel – however raw it feels. Listen to your heart and what it is feeling. Notice what your stomach is doing. What is coursing through your veins? What thoughts do you have? Just observe and allow thoughts and feelings to come up. Suppressed emotion will come back to bite you, if you don’t take heed. This is why we need time before we respond.
- In any relationship or interaction there are always two stories playing out; yours and the other person’s. This means that you each bring a different shade and texture to the interaction. Nothing is ever just your fault or responsibility. The other person’s personality, needs and insecurities will interplay with you and this acceptance will help you shoulder your 50% responsibility for the problem or issue.
- Decide what outcome you are looking or need from your response. Is it closure or recovery so that the relationship can be maintained?
- When responding, either in writing or in person, rehearse. Now I don’t mean doing anything formal, although certainly drafting out what you want to say and reviewing it, will be essential.
- Answer from your heart and not your head. Be humble whilst assertive. Be heart-centred whilst resilient. Be clear without being too direct. These factors will give you confidence and ensure that the message comes across appropriately to heal or recover the relationship. You can then either draw a line and bring closure to the matter or move on together.
- Avoid letting the ego and the drama queen get in the way. This will only inflame your tone, your words and alter how your message is received. So write mindfully.
- Wish the other person well in what ever way is appropriate to your relationship and if it’s right to do so, then apologise for your part in the breakdown.
- When the response has been delivered, reaffirm your strengths and identify what you have learnt from the situation. This is such an important element as people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime. You must be clear what the reason is so you can grow and adapt if necessary.
- Now let it all go. Go about your day, your business as you would normally and feel proud about the way you handled the situation and how much more effectively and calmly you navigated it.
Relationships are tricky little beasts. We so often become so attached and dependent on them to make us feel whole, healed or loved that it creates too much intensity. It is that strain which causes them to fray at the edges. Taking a more mindful approach to the situation gives you a chance to step back and deal with what has happened by seeing it for what it is rather than the soap opera that you’re about to create on your movie screen.
Happiness is waiting for you just around the corner. Don’t leave it waiting too long.
Be well and happy. Karen x