I have been on a short break from writing in my gratitude journal as I have been focusing on a new section of my blog that I hope will help quite a few people 😀 But I do not want to allow too much time to pass between posts so this one is to celebrate learning not to assume and making space for honest discussion.
I learnt it early on in my childhood. How to try to evaluate what the meaning of other people’s behaviour without putting myself in danger. I could never just ask as there was never a straight answer. So I did my best to guess, evaluate, interpret signs, ask some other unrelated questions in order to kind of get a feel for where I stood. And I leant not to be honest about what I felt. Because honesty was dangerous and there was never a good time and space for me to not be ok.
And in my adult life I have strived to only have next to me honest people and people that I felt safe being honest to. But I struggles a lot more with not making assumptions. Not feeling like I was constantly in a minefield of communication, where any word or action can make you lose an emotional finger, or an ego leg or the entire head of your self confidence. It is a long journey and sometimes I get derailed, but this weekend I have felt right back on track and I am extremely grateful for it.
My two partners have been meaning to discuss a project that we are all going to be involved in and I was extremely excited to see them both together, spend time and plan. And then a fear took over me. What if something happens, one of them says something and upsets the other and then they won’t get along anymore? What if this, that and the other? And I worked myself up for a couple of days, but then the mist got swept away. I realised I was acting as though I was in an emotional minefield, even though I know them both, I trust them to be rational , reasonable, aware adults who are more than able to express their own needs and wants without my baby-sitting. So I took a deep breath and I told each one of them: “You know best what is best for you, what you want and what you do not want. So please just communicate as you feel best”. And then it was gone. The anxiety, the anticipation, the assumptions were gone.
We had a lovely time, eating together, getting excited about out common project, debating, discussing, laughing. I was so incredibly happy and grateful to have them both there and it was incredibly special to me. I really do have the best folks I could ask for 😀
In a culture that teaches that “no” is an insult, that standing your ground makes you stubborn and rude, not assertive, eliminating your assumptions is difficult. It is simpler, yet more difficult than just being honest. It is the hardship of learning to be straightforward. I have fought hard for that privilege and I am still fighting every day. I have promised myself I will not allow myself to be derailed anymore. And I am quite proud of my little weekend success. So if you too find yourself giving away too much of yourself because you are afraid of the emotional toll it would take, if you too feel the anxiety of doing guesswork about what others might feel or want, try to take this pledge with yourself. I will try to be more straightforward, asking, expressing and explaining that all of this work is actually to bring us closer and to make us more comfortable with each other. And try keeping in mind that it might be scary in the moment, but the long term benefits are immense.