How to Speak Responsibly to Ourselves and To Others
It’s October already… what?!? As the leaves are continuing to fall and change colors, and we say our official goodbyes to all things summer, I wanted to let you in on some behind-the-scenes real-talk regarding listening, communication, social media, and… brace yourself… the present political scene. Time to get real (no pun intended).
But first, some back story: I’ve been training in a therapy model called Relational Life Therapy (RLT) with internationally-recognized family therapist, speaker, and author, Terry Real. This blog post is a direct reflection of information gained through Terry’s work and even more specifically, a communication tool he teaches and refers to as The Feedback Wheel. This remarkably effective tool and therapy method have not only transformed my relationships and how I show up, I have also seen it profoundly shift my clients’ relationships. I’m sharing this tool with you today because it works!
So, how do we listen and speak responsibly? Listening is quite literally my ‘work,’ but it’s also work for anyone who is in relationship – which is everyone, last time I checked! For today’s blog we will focus on the speaker more than the listener. Stay tuned for the listening part in the next blog!
At this present moment in time, from where I live in the United States, I’m seeing a massive outpour of pain and confusion. My wish and desire is for the work that I do to help heal – even if only the slightest bit – something that I’ve heard described as “emotional patriarchy.” A few examples of emotional patriarchy are the behavior of needing to be right, feeling like you are better than, more important than, smarter/wiser than. Hopefully you get the idea. On the other side of that equation is the person who won’t stand up for themselves, who feels less than, who thinks there is something wrong with them.
Both ways of being in relationship contribute to emotional patriarchy.
Patriarchy as defined by learnwhr.org as a present day unjust social system that subordinates, discriminates or is oppressive to women. My opinion and experience has me wanting to share that I do want to say that both men and women uphold this way of being in the world. Until we learn to communicate and stand in our truth – emotional patriarchy will live on.
But okay – time to get into the real-talk already. I’m just gonna say it: There is a direct correlation between how we show up for ourselves and the systemic hatred that is seeping its way through all platforms based on:
- Differing views
- The need to be right
- The need to make others wrong
This starts – and stops – with us. It starts and stops with our own experience of ourselves and what we put out into the world with our words, thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Let me explain with an example from my own life. It’s come to my attention (from others and my own awareness) that I sometimes use self-deprecating language to keep myself safe from judgment. I can see why I might do this and that is because I don’t want to be rejected and I am trying to maintain a sense of belonging. Actually, I have a tendency to avoid the feeling of not belonging at all costs! Dang-ouch-yikes. Not how I want to show up for sure! And yes, this is me owning my s***.
Can you relate? Do you feel like you avoid rejection and in so doing, silence yourself or choose a negative attitude toward yourself?
In doing some inward digging (soul work), I decided to unpack my tendencies and ask myself why I feel this way… so I’m straight-up sharing something from my personal journal! The following journal entry is a great example of how I can hold myself back from showing up fully. I’m sharing here because I have a feeling I’m not the only one holding my true self back!
First, I’ll share my journal entry, and then go in and rewrite it in a way that I could share with someone who opposes my view on any level as well as on social media if I wanted to (nervous grin). The rewrite will be spoken from a place of holding myself in warm regard while also expressing my truth. As I do this, I’m going to let myself off the hook of needing anything from anyone. My intention here is to give you an example of what it looks like to practice expressing your truth and own your story and feelings – while also standing in the courage that it takes to ask for what you want. Because, damn it! You really do deserve to have what you want!
Journal Entry (On Politics & Communication) Version 1
“I have posted very few political opinions, grievances, etc. I thought I was doing this to not be part
of the ‘cancel culture’ and as a result, I have let my voice hide in the background as I colluded to
keep myself on higher ground – which is really arrogant! All the while, I sift through my Facebook
feed where there are enormous amounts of posts exhibiting hate, greed, nasty accusations, and
black-and-white childish thinking, which all feel to me like a personal attack at my libertarian spirit.
I wonder: Is there something wrong with me?
I don’t understand the constant hatred being aired day in and day out!”
Okay. Now, here’s how the above journal entry can shift when I show up with the perspective of being intentional, responsible, and relational:
Journal Entry (On Politics & Communication) Version 2
Holding warm regard for myself and my feelings…
- When I see black-and-white-blanketed statements on social media saying things like: “Your opinion does not hold weight or matter if you do not speak it, post it, stand up for it and for what’s right!…” also, when I see name-calling, memes that are unkind and uncompassionate, or shaming expletives directed at a group or person,
- When I see these things, I make up a story that I am being personally attacked.
- When I believe that I am being personally attacked, I feel sad, frustrated, and deeply misunderstood.
- What I would like, and what I am asking for, is responsible sharing.
Responsible sharing, to me, is sharing an opinion responsibly by owning that it is an opinion. It also means sharing detailed information as fact – should be kept to things that one has first-hand knowledge of (state your source)!
How did I do? Are you getting me here? If you would like help with any miscommunications that you might be in the middle of right now, let me know!
One more detail to mention here: It’s okay if I don’t get what I want. Why? Because I’m not in control of what others say and do.
The healing happens when I speak my truth from a place of care for myself and others … I can move forward making choices for myself that are in alignment with what I want. So, maybe I stop following people on social media, or I end a relationship that is not in my highest good any longer.
Get the idea?