Saturday, December 03, 2005

Trouble, Part 2

So many of us, if we are worried about the feelings of others, tend not to say what’s on our minds, sometimes. We think we are being kind. The problem is that if we do not say what troubles us, odds are we will never resolve it and the result can be relationships that fall apart because we are trying to be kind.

Note: I am NOT advocating endless venting. I am not advocating clinging to hurt feelings and telling the world all about it. What I am talking about is the kind of telling where we say what we feel looking for a solution and we listen, really listen to the response.

Sometimes there are no solutions. Fears are colliding and/or the issues cannot be resolved. If we have talked about it with the person, at least we will be clear what the situation is and we need not have regrets or second guess ourselves if we walk away.

Very rarely do our words come as a surprise to the other person—that’s the most important thing to realize if we think we are being kind by staying silent. The other person has almost always sensed that there was some kind of problem. In the end, if we do get up the courage to raise the issue, often the other person feels a sense of relief to finally have it out in the open.

Again, I am not talking about endlessly obsessing. I am not talking about trying to get the other person to admit they have done wrong. I am talking about clarifying situations and setting boundaries and sorting out perceptions of what has happened and how the individuals involved really feel. It is important then to listen as well as to speak!

All of us see life through the filters of our past experience. No matter how hard we try to be objective, we cannot help having some distortion. Sometimes that distortion protects us and lets us move forward when if we truly saw things clearly we could not! Other times, though, those filters get in the way, preventing us from having the relationships we want to have or do the things we want to do.

It takes courage to let go of our favorite filters. It takes courage and the willingness to listen to others to rewrite our perception of the world. When we do so, we often lose what has felt like our protection for so long and yet, if we do find that courage, often we can rebuild our lives and our relationships on a stronger basis than before.

I have said before that it is the assumptions we never think to question that trip us up. Not listening, not speaking, these can reinforce those assumptions. When we do speak and we do listen, we may find those assumptions being pulled to the forefront and we have the chance to ask ourselves if they are really true and whether or not they are continuing to serve us well. We may hear things we don’t want to hear and yet that may be the only way we can grow and move forward.

Trouble occurs when fears collide and fears can often keep us silent. How much better to find the courage to speak in spite of our fears and discover, perhaps, that many of our fears have been groundless? Even if they are not, at least we will know and once we know we can move from being trapped within our fears to taking action to dealing with whatever the reality may be.

Speak always with kindness, but speak. And then listen. When we run from our fears, they gain power over us. When we face our fears, we gain power over them. Here’s wishing you the courage and wisdom to find ways to face your fears and to build even stronger relationships with the people you care about.