It’s a new year, and it gives you another reason to reduce or eliminate toleration’s in your life.
Sometimes we tolerate because we don’t know how to fix boundaries that clearly let the people in our lives know how we would like to be treated.
Sometimes we tolerate because we have a limiting belief that stating how we want to be treated would hurt the ones who we love or upset the ones we are accountable to, like our bosses.
And sometimes we tolerate because deep down we don’t necessarily believe we deserve any better.
Whatever the reasons might be, I invite you to start preparing yourself to have that very important conversation with the person who needs to be informed about what you are fine with and what is not acceptable to you, even if the person you need to have the conversation with is the one who loves you the most or you love the most.
Alright, so the first part is preparing for the conversation. This is the most important part.
Here is how you can prepare, so that you put your best version forward:
- Be very clear with the intention of why you want to have this conversation. In most circumstances your intention might be that you want to have a healthier relationship with that person, or because you have been feeling a drain on your energy dealing with that person, or because in some way your personal boundaries of space, autonomy, respect, justice or love have been breached.
- Once you have gained clarity on why you want to have this conversation, imagine, feel, and visualize the details of that conversation going the way you want it to, in-line with your intention. While visualizing, your fear, doubt, guilt or hesitation may come up. As you get more and more comfortable imagining an outcome where all ends well, it will help you to release any resistance (fear, guilt, doubt) that you have.
- Make notes. Whenever I’ve had such a conversation, I write in points of what I want to say. I do this because I’m emotional and I don’t want whatever comes up in myself or the other person to derail me from letting them know my message. I don’t recommend you read it, but use it as a guide or as a reminder of what you want to say. You can even let the other person know why you’ve made these notes and how it will help you stay focused on your message.
- Before and during the conversation, affirm to yourself that you are doing this because you value yourself and the relationship with the other person.
Some tips to help you have an effective conversation:
- State at the beginning that you care/love/appreciate the person who you are having this conversation with. Be genuine and only state what you do appreciate and love about them. If you are in a situation where you can’t see what you love about them, then skip this step. In my experience, if you have reached this stage where you are having a conversation to let them know how you would like to be treated, then I will assume that you want them in your life. In that case, it is helpful to have some positive aspects in mind about that person.
- Share how their behavior, words or treatment towards you affects you. Tell them how their behavior makes you feel. Specify in exact words how they impact you.
- It’s important not to get sucked in to the drama that might or might not ensue. That is usually the other person’s fight or flight response. They will either retaliate or walk out (it’s a survival mechanism that’s triggered within them when faced with a confrontation). It’s normal, and its not about you or your message.
- Remind yourself that it requires courage to stand up for yourself, your beliefs, and your relationships. By speaking up you are being courageous and considerate to the very people who might not be happy listening to your message. You are also liberating them from being the recipient of any future resentment that might pile up in you if you were not to have this important conversation.
- If you have done your pre-work well, you will feel light and liberated as you share your message. And no matter what the response, you will remain focused on the conversation and the intention behind it.
- Make sure you also let them know that if they do not change their behavior towards you, then the consequences will mean that your relationship with them will be impacted.
Post conversation work:
- Right after this conversation, take it easy. Relax. Breathe. Give them space to work out their feelings and thoughts around what you have shared. Remember, no matter what their response is, they still need time to process what you have told them.
- After you have had the conversation, it’s important to stay aligned with what you want, which is a better, healthy, respectful relationship. Stay aligned by believing that things will get better, by looking for evidence that things are getting better, and by affirming that the other person is responding well.
- If you see them repeating their past behavior after some time has passed by, you can have another conversation with them to remind them of the agreed terms.
Overall, you are doing this for the health of your relationship with yourself and with the other person in question. So be firm, but graceful.