When it comes to opening up, do you know what you need in order to feel safe?
A starting point is to ask yourself ‘Will what I am about to say be handled with care?’
I’ve learnt that people often hold their challenges dear. Even if it’s not deeply affecting them now they still require a level of care when it’s being discussed.
For example, you probably want more than just ‘oh wow, glad you’re okay’ when opening up about a past period of depression.
Another question to ask is ‘What do I want from this situation?’
Many times when we open up to people, we want something particular from them in return. But often we don’t realise until it’s too late.
A common example is discussing an issue you’re having and getting annoyed when the other person tries to offer advice or tell you what to do. Turns out you just wanted someone to listen.
And so overall, creating a safe space is a combination of knowing what makes you feel safe, voicing what you need and (as always) picking the right people.
The easiest perspective to understand a situation from is your own. If you look back on past experiences you can get a good idea of why you respond the way you do, what gets you enraged and perhaps what helps you stay calm.
But a helpful perspective to try and understand is the perspective of others. For example, when you and Person A have a disagreement if you’re only willing to see things from your point of view you won’t get a full picture of the situation.
As much as you have past experiences that effect the way you are, challenges and even things stressing you out, you’re not alone in that. And so if you remember that Person A has all those same things too, it might make their perspective easier to understand.
Let’s say Person A lies to you. From your perspective you might be angry/hurt that they lied and wished that they could have been honest. But when you make the effort to understand things from Person As perspective you might realise that they have always been someone that struggles with opening up. Or you’ll remember that since you haven’t taken their honesty well in the past the lie probably wasn’t coming from a cruel or malicious place.
That doesn’t mean you need to excuse bad behaviour but it serves as a reminder that situations aren’t always as shallow as we like to pretend they are.
Understand others isn’t about psychoanalysing or thinking that you know everything about why a person is the way they are, it’s just about having compassion.
Even if we don’t say it, it’s what we’d like extended to us, so why not do the same for others.
A seemingly simple four word question that is often almost impossible to answer.
Even when you know what you want you’re likely to find yourself making excuses for why it’s not possible for you or how it’s just a daydream.
But also I think it’s difficult to admit what you truly want when you know that you haven’t even tried to make it happen. If your wants don’t align with what you currently do or are currently working towards it highlights where you’ve fallen short.
Nobody wants to be reminded that they’re not where they want to be in life especially when you’re not even working towards what you want.
And so the lesson is to keep checking in with what you want in life. Once you have that figured out all you have to do is start bridging the gap.
One of the most popular excuses people make is not having enough time.
Yet you’re able to make time for things that you don’t even really consider to be important.
Meanwhile, it’s your life long dream that you’re willing to put on hold or sometimes put off altogether.
There’s no denying that it can be difficult to make time but surely you’d be willing to find a way for the things you truly care about.
Finding a way might mean getting up a little earlier, watching one episode of that show you like instead of three or even making use of your train journeys.
It might seem challenging but with a little thought and a little effort, it’s definitely possible to make the most of the time you have.
Being patient is a hopeful thing. It’s often done hoping that sooner or later things will change.
Sure you can scream and shout for what you want and to be heard by others. But often you just end up being ignored. People will focus on the fact that you scream and shout, not the reason you’re doing it. In fact they’ll gladly forget all about it.
And so you choose patience and you wait full of hope for things to change.
But when patience runs out, it’s hard to figure out what next.
How do you make yourself heard, when people don’t want to listen?
In challenging times it can be difficult to look to the future and think about all the possibilities. Your mind will be going round in circles and you’ll be asking yourself questions like:
How can I get there when there is all this stuff going on right now?
When you’re caught up in a challenging situation it can be hard to see past it, especially when you have no idea how you’ll overcome it.
But, if you start with believing you can figure things out and then try and work towards a solution, you might find that you’re more capable than you thought.
Talking about how unhappy you are with where you’re at is easy to do. Talking about the changes you want to happen in your life is also pretty easy.
But when it comes to actually turning those thoughts into plans, things tend to get a little more challenging.
First of all, there is the familiarity factor. There is comfort in familiarity. Just the fact that your current circumstance is what you’re used to will make it difficult for you to move on from it to something new.
Then, there is the commitment to the change you want.
Lastly, there is the risk ‘what if it doesn’t work?’
All of that is enough to convince many people to stay exactly where they are. Or they tell themselves they’ll make the changes slowly over time. But often those efforts are half-hearted.
What you might need to do is take a leap a faith. Launch yourself into the unknown, fully committed and knowing that you can handle whatever challenges come your way.
Sometimes that’s the only way to make changes in your life.
It’s easy to talk about things that are easy.
But when it comes to comes to feelings, wants and needs, things often get a little more challenging.
Often problems will arise, simply because you didn’t speak up and let the other person know how you felt or what you needed. When you hold things in, they rarely go away, they just build up over time.
So, maybe 6 months later when you feel angry and frustrated towards someone you won’t even consider that maybe things could have turned out differently, if only you had said ‘I want you to make more of an effort’ instead of keeping quiet.
Granted people won’t always meet your needs, even if you desperately want them too.
But you’re better off speaking up and giving the other person a chance, than just holding things in and ending up disappointed that people can’t read your mind.
Often when a person finds themselves craving something new, it’s because they’re bored with where they’re at.
As much as familiarity can be comforting and pleasant, for many people they find themselves at a point where they want more.
You find yourself wanting something different, not because what you’re used to isn’t working but because you want to remember the feeling of newness.
It’s like taking a different route home every once in a while. You do it to switch things up not because you never want to take your usual route again.
This idea can apply to so many things and one of them is the work you do. When you’re doing the same thing over and over you’ll get sick of it after a while because you’re no longer doing it consciously, you’re not thinking or stretching your mind and you want to be challenged.
So, you put yourself forward for a new type of work. It’s new and unfamiliar and you enjoy it simply because it’s not what you’re used to.
The beauty of this kind of situation is after you’re tried something new, you can go back to what you were doing before often with new found appreciation.
It’s easy to be grateful when things are going your way.
But when times are uncertain and life has thrown a spanner in the works gratitude often becomes a little more challenging.
Suddenly the most prominent things are the bad stuff and you’re not thankful for your life being turned upside down.
In these times it’s even more important to practice gratitude.
The real benefits of the practice come when you’re able to make it a part of your lifestyle, independent of your circumstances.
And so maybe it used to be I’m grateful for getting to be apart of this exciting project or some other major thing that you feel like shouting from the rooftops. But now it’s more like I’m grateful for these cosy socks, the flowers in my garden and running water.