I felt disrespected and like I needed to stand up for myself, but I went to a place I’d rather not have.
There was yelling, hurtful words and drama and that just doesn’t feel like who I really am.
How can I move past this now and change how I behave in the future?
We are constantly being called to find the balance between commanding respect and being sensitive to another’s perspective - respond to hurts without intensifying drama and not fuel drama by holding it in.
It's imperative to make sure you’re not taking responsibility for others feelings but taking responsibility for expressing your hurts, needs and desires with clarity and love. It is possible to stand up for the type of treatment and respect you deserve commanding it gently, almost, with a loving, inquisitive and curious authority.
If you have slighted someone recently:
- by responding with comments steeped with sarcasm masked by sincerity, or
- found yourself speaking or reacting with intense emotion - things you would you never say to your boss or employee or a client or stranger
Think of what you wanted to communicate exactly. Try writing how you would ideally respond vs how you did respond. It might look something like this:
“My feelings are hurt when you undermine my... I’d appreciate it if you have concerns you'd address them when... (the two of us can speak privately).”
“It hurts my feelings that you don’t trust... (my professional training and background). I have been taught... I have spent many hours... I am hurt when you (disapprove and distrust my expertise in this area).”
When we enter the conversation offended, wounded and wanting to talk, but not prepared, we put the other person on the offensive.
Next time you’re fuming write down what you want to convey, what your desires are (in the case above it is to be shown respect and courtesy).
And this is huge: be vulnerable.
If you’re angry it’s likely your feelings are hurt, so say that.
Open up and say what you’re afraid of.
- “I’m afraid that when you say we don’t want the same things that you’re thinking our relationship is doomed or you’re going to leave me.”
- “I’m afraid that when you’re talking about buying a house it means we will be throwing our money away on repairs and maintenance rather than my goal of travel and cultural experience.”
When you share your open woundedness this way you seem human rather than like a big growling bear ready to attack... and others will be less likely to feel the need to defend, but instead will want to reach out and nurture your feelings, or convey a regard for your humanity.
In this way you would be connecting your individuality with the commonness you share - your needs with their sympathy.
Try this Spirit Letter template for a guide on getting in touch with what you really want. Being in a space of clarity will help you if communications begin to get tense.
If you’ve already fanned the fire of drama it’s not too late.
- Write down how you think and feel the conversation should have gone.
- How you felt at the time of the intrusion or disrespected boundaries
- What you could have said differently and
- how you would have liked them to respond. (Remember they can respond without agreeing with you, but in a respectful manner. Maybe they could have said “I hear you and I feel differently,” or “I hear you and I see your point here and here, but this I don’t align with.”)
What if they don't agree with you, or see your point? That’s ok too. Maybe this is a lesson for you in a accepting where other people are on their own individual journey and letting them be that way while you turn inward. Focus on yourself and your reactions. Make personal growth and change your priority rather than focusing on the weaknesses of others as a welcome distraction from the hard work of changing your own patterns and habits of reaction that is ahead.
This situation has been gifted to you for you to see where your own unwholesomeness lies and which patterns of yours need fixing.
Buddha said we must train our mind to repeatedly focus inward for the purpose of exploring and recognizing where our own mind is unwholesome. That in becoming familiar with these differences between the wholesome mind and the unwholesome mind we can find peace. (Similar messages can be found in all sorts of popular spiritual texts as well.)
I’ve not yet mastered fully the art of responding from my place of wholesome mind, but I have felt and seen the amazing benefits this type of mindfulness brings. The truth is, it can only be cultivated with regular, dedicated (and self forgiving) practice.
Dedicate yourself to this type of reflection following these communication challenges and you will certainly feel the benefits.
Best of luck to you.
May you be well, may you be happy, may you be peaceful.