Do you have friends that once you are off the phone with them, you wonder why they are in your life? Do you wonder why you still hang out with someone who is not good for your energy, your mental health, who doesn’t bring much to the table? Yet they don’t have a mean bone in their body? After all they just want to be friends, and they deserve company too. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to be friends, right? Recently more and more is happening to make me aware of the fact that I need to take some action, one way or the other, instead of settling for the status quo. I resist visits or chats because I think…why oh why am I going to let my vibe go back down to this level? This is not said or thought of in a privileged way at all. It’s more of a state of self protection for the good vibe I’ve worked so hard to achieve.
How do you tell someone to stop looking at their phone (texting or talking) during your time together? How do you tell someone that you’d like it if just once they ask how you are doing? I have a friend who knows I have been through a challenging year, and they never ask how I am feeling, what’s up, what’s going on. If I tell them I had a bad experience, they skip right over what I say without an acknowledgment and keep talking about their life. Or worse they gossip about someone else’s life. (I can’t abide gossip.) That makes me sad, and makes me feel like I am the entertainment committee. Which leads to me feeling selfish for even having that thought.
Now the questions start. I wonder about the many facets of this problem. I am protective of my alone time. I live out in the sticks because nature feeds my soul and it keeps me sane and grounded. But it keeps me away from being social. Always a double-edged sword to live so far out. Does spending a lot of time on my own make me snotty, stubborn, or exclusive? Maybe it is smart that I protect myself as much as possible from the wrong type of encounter. Or that I feed my soul as much as I do with time spent alone, or with quality people. Does it seem I am being exclusive? Rude? Stubborn? Hoity-toity? I have worked so hard for my safety and security.
However being more open (less stubborn) might be called for because I could be losing the openness to be wrong, to stumble on something new, to have an open heart. Balance is key here, and I know stubbornness is my stumbling block. By being ‘safe’ out in the sticks, living my life without much contact am I missing out on another type of companionship, camaraderie, and social connections? Maybe the effort to feel safe is not serving me anymore? These are questions I ask myself. It’s the flip side of the protect thyself coin. In hopes of finding an answer, I ask myself a ton of questions to make sure I’m not being a jerk. I call it a ruthless self-evaluation. This is during a time where I want to be more social and get out more. As irritating as the problem is, I think it is good timing.
There always seem there is a bit more work to be done to have healthy boundaries. I’ve come a long way. For years I was the world’s doormat but I’m not in that place now. So maybe this is one more whorl of the river. It’s a tricky place. You can’t shut people out of your life unless they are totally toxic. Then it’s a must, but I have found that to be rare. Boundaries should be flexible enough to let the new and unexpected in, while feeling respected and honored by the presence of others. Good boundaries also means respecting others in your life. It means giving them the respect they deserve as well. It’s a two way street. It calls for more minute, fine maneuvering in the river of life.
Even though some people may be ignorant of their social trespass, the problem remains. Ignorance does not excuse bad behavior. It must be handled somehow. I guess it’s one more level of detail I have been missing in terms of gentle communication. Here comes the lesson on runway two! There must be one more way for me to negotiate the river and find the best way make it clear, in a compassionate way, how I would like to be respected. That’s better than just dumping someone, isn’t it? It’s more humane. More detail in a finite matter. This is good. These tiny gray areas are where we learn about ourselves, and do a kindness to others. That kindness can be information they didn’t know before, that helps them negotiate their way through life. This is growth for both parties. Growth is good.
An example of gentle and helpful communication was many years ago I was still in a bad marriage. To cope and come out of a depressed state, I was on a popular anti-depressant. Let us say it woke me up a bit and I got rather chatty. Feeling I had a voice. I was elated! I went to a party with a dear and trusted friend. At one point my friend tugged me on the sleeve and whispered in my ear,
“Maybe you are not aware, Pat, but you are interrupting every person here. I know you are excited and have a new found voice, but you have to let others speak. Tone down your excitement and listen a bit.”
Oh my I was stunned to learn what I was doing. I thought I was joining in joking, laughing, and sharing. But I could see his point. Since I was told this in a gentle and loving way, I was able to better manage my enthusiasm and channel it into listening and replying at a more appropriate time. The advice didn’t get my hackles up because my friend used a gentle tone of voice. He was sincere. This is advice I still take with me today. I also learned to ask about the other person a lot more than I talk about myself. People like me that live alone tend to get chatty when we meet other human beings! 😉
Compassionately communicating to those I feel disrespected by, gently telling them what I would like in my life is being true to myself, and helpful to the recipient. Sound and words have power. Speaking words that need to be spoken in your own defense must have great power. I need to speak out loud the words that outline what I need for the basics of feeling respected. I guess now that I put it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. Not so black and white. Not so terrible to tell someone you need a little respect during a friendly visit. I just need a little courage. Already a new path forward is being forged. All from an irritating thorn in my side and then some good old fashioned investigating and evaluating of the self.
Comments and dialogue are encouraged and welcome. Likes tell me someone is listening. ❤ Love and Light, Patty.