One of the hardest things I’ve consistently had to work on my entire life has been communication. Let me just face the facts straight up, I suck at it. I’m a “yes” person to the core. I accept everything that falls into my path, whether I feel I can juggle it or not. Because of this, I almost welcome being walked all over. At times, I find it so overwhelming that I end up completely disconnecting and unplugging for a few days, without any warning, and temporarily shut off. The after effects of this are (as you can only imagine) twice as stressful than it would be to power through it. But sometimes it gets to be too much, and I really only have myself to point the finger at. I never SAY anything. Interestingly enough, in the age of technology, I am pretty much known by my community for being the WORST with texting. This is because I have a really hard time with how impersonal it is. Not to mention the fact that the biggest part of a conversation I have with someone is when I can physically hear them, and even better, physically see them. As I’ve ranted about before, energy is everything. It introduces you before you even open your mouth. You don’t get this with a text. This is me taking full responsibility for this struggle. The constant battle I find I have with communication is — what is too much and what isn’t enough? How do I effectively communicate with people in my life while be clear and direct, as well as adapting and carefully forming thoughts and weaving words together in a way that the receiver (or the listener) will not only absorb what I am saying, but also have a clear understanding of it? When should you speak up and when should you let it roll? How do I say no, or at least recognize my limitations before I disconnect entirely? It should be a very obvious answer, but for me there is an extremely fine line, one that is often pushed further and further over the edge of my limits because of empathy.
My entire life, I’ve actually been given physical reminders of how I need to work on this. Since I can remember, I lose my voice twice a year, and for a fairly extended period of time (usually about 10 days). I always used to say this was just the changing of the seasons, but I’ve noticed that it usually occurs right before one of those breaking points I have when I’m overwhelmed. I also am the youngest in my house and growing up, I always felt talked over so most of the time I learned to just enjoy being quiet and not feel the need to express much verbally. When I was very little, I had asthma and was on a nebulizer for a few years, which paralleled the time in which I learned to enjoy silence. It was only in the last few years that I really began to notice how little I spoke up for myself and began to make a conscious effort in my methods of communication. I can’t tell you how often I physically feel my throat close up in anxiety. Just recently I made this connection when I was experiencing a few minor anxiety attacks a week for the last couple months and made note that they usually begin with that feeling of my throat closing up. I immediately recognized that my anxiety had been rising up from being in circumstances when I felt I had something I wanted to say that I wasn’t saying or expressing. A few days ago, I began coughing and feeling my throat go dry. However, I’m nowhere near being sick at all. Because I have grown to really try to observe these types of patterns on a different level, I began to make the connection to my throat chakra…I’m not communicating, I’m not speaking my truth.
This post was not to be used to hate on myself for being an ineffective communicator, but actually to maybe raise a little awareness, look at ourselves and observe the way in which we communicate with one another. Let’s face it, we all tend to have gaps in communication and the core of this issue is in the fact that we all feel that it is the job of the receiver/listener to absorb our words in the way we want them to, when it is in fact OUR job to make sure we are communicating properly, and compassionately, with the person we’re choosing to share with and/or confront…and if at first you don’t succeed, try try again, right? I mean, how wonderful would it be if we ALL attempted to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes that was standing in front of us? Think about how much would change in our approaches. What would happen if someone randomly started becoming defensive, or raising their voice, or picking apart every detail of your responses (let’s be real, we’ve all been in that situation waaayyy too many times to count), and instead of lashing back and/or defending yourself, you quickly think to yourself, “hmm, I wonder what has happened to this person or what kind of a day this person had that is making them lash out in such a way?” Now, this is by NO means an excuse to be walked all over!!! Use your best judgment in the situation and decide whether or not this person is actually truly frustrated with you, or if you think maybe it has nothing to do with you. There is no need to fuel a fire that does not actually belong to you. Breathe, and let it go…you don’t always have to have the last word. On the other hand, I also truly, truly believe that there is a way to say EVERYTHING no matter how tough it is, but first consider who it is you are speaking to and what you are trying to say.
I give myself credit for having noticed and accepted this about myself, and made physical strides towards making changes with the way I communicate. One of the most successful methods I’ve found has been to step outside of it, either for a split second or maybe even for a day or two..removing myself from it entirely and then looking at it from an impartial perspective. The observations are not just of the other person, but also turning inward and noticing how you react to other people’s words, striving to understand how and why YOU receive information the way you do; why is it I am keeping quiet? This is a helpful tool in terms of being able to reflect back on your own automatic ways of communicating. Our experiences shape us as a person, and with that comes the way we come across and communicate as well, so acknowledging how YOU absorb as the listener will help you to also bring awareness as to how YOU form your words (or lack thereof) and come across to others.
It’s a two way street, people. Bottom line is whether you are the speaker or receiver, be compassionate, be empathetic, and be respectful, regardless of what is being shared.
I wish that I could say that it’s easy but I believe it’s something you have to work in every single moment of every day. We meet new people all the time who will translate things differently and the people that we think we already know can change; we have to constantly strive to communicate with one another effectively and empathetically. I whole-heartedly believe that when setting goals you have to put effort into manifesting them, meaning WRITE…THEM…DOWN!!! So here is my goal – I wish to be a compassionate and clear communicator and to always find loving but firm ways to speak my truth, starting here…