As I grow older, I want to be known. This wasn’t going to happen without my openness and the space to let myself be known good, bad, and ugly. In Episode 4 of The Creativity Cure, I talk about how I am going to live in a way that fosters real relationships that are strong. Here are some practical ways I am going to do that! Let me know what you think. What would you add?
Let’s Be Honest
It was the first BIG step I had to take. Every day, I work on not going along to get along. As soon as I realized I wasn’t being understood, I worked harder to make sure I could be understood. Suppose I asked for guacamole at Chipotle and they said Queso I would speak up if the person heard something different about the food. On days when I’m having a tough day, I try to be honest with people about how I’m doing. It was only when I spoke honestly outwardly about how I felt that I was able to move through my emotions because I heard what my body was saying and I took action to move forward. While this doesn’t mean I’m right about everything, it does mean I deal with reality and let people know who I am and what my plans are. As I constantly engage in these little confrontations, I build my confidence for real big moments when I have to speak up.
The more I expressed what I felt inside, the more I noticed my needs and this really changed my life. If you know someone who gets hangry, you know what it feels like to argue and fight and then they eat and it’s all good. They probably felt hungry long before they got irritable. In the same way, when I listened to my needs, I noticed lots of additional needs I’d usually overlook until I got sick from lack of sleep or felt terrible from not taking care of myself. I mean I actually noticed when I was thirsty or hungry before I felt extremely irritable. Rather than being irritable towards my family when I get home from work, I could communicate decision fatigue. I did decide to go to therapy and it really helped me work through being out of tune. I began to feel more like the driver in my life and less like the rider of my emotions or lack thereof.
Make Time to Get to Know People
Are there people you pass by every day and say hi to? Have you gotten to know your family well? How well do your friends know each other? Asking yourself these questions will help you find meaningful relationships and improve them. What you water grows. You have to be patient if you want to build a community. There’s a good chance you’ll be the one who calls and asks awkward questions. When your relationship with a sibling is always surface level, it’s hard. I actually find a lot of marriage podcasts so helpful because the key to all thriving relationships is communication. The Young Black Married Christian Podcast uses an acronym to remind you to go deep. They call it the BLESS framework. You ask questions about someone’s Body, Labor, Emotions, Social Life, and Spiritual Life.
Body: How is your shoulder doing after you got hurt the other day?
Labor: What was work like for you today did you enjoy it?
Emotions: I know you were disappointed that you didn’t get a raise how are you feeling?
Social Life: How are your friends?
Spiritual Life: Are you hoping for anything? What are your dreams?
It might help you get to know your loved ones better by asking better questions. Try it out! The questions get deeper as you go along and you can actually repeat it to spark a good conversation.
Learning to listen is a skill. Learn how to listen if you want to succeed in community. It means asking follow-up questions! This means not adding to what someone said or twisting it to fit your needs. It means asking for clarity and repeating what they said. It means respecting people’s choices and preferences; sometimes we ignore them by not listening. Take the time to consider how your actions affect the people around you, without justifying them. I’m not going to pretend I’ve figured this out because this is hard. But if you learn to listen, you’d be surprised what people share about wanting to be connected.
I want to leave you with this last thought if you have trouble controlling peace by allowing your boundaries to be consistently crossed.
One day, you may have to speak up for serious reasons like safety and protection. In an assailant safety class at work, there is a section that talks about how one of your defenses is your voice. Often, criminals will exploit people’s natural tendency toward friendliness. Some would look for those who were more concerned about being polite than speaking up. This reminded me that what you practice will become your reality. Practice talking to others, being honest in your emotions and thoughts, and verbalizing them even in disagreements, and you’ll be able to do it when it matters. The good thing about this is that you will attract people who see this as a good thing rather than people who like to dominate others. Your ability to listen to yourself will influence your ability to listen to others. It could be your children or your partner who benefit from the growth that happens when you choose to care for yourself the way you do for others. It starts with you. Practice with you. Be honest and build relationships that reflect you good bad and ugly. Check out this clip by Hailey Page Magee this one is for you people pleasers!
Thank you for checking out my blog! You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Watch me on YouTube as well by searching for The Creativity Cure. Let’s continue the conversation by joining Seen & Celebrated my weekly Newsletter where I share stories of women doing great things in Maryland. Subscribe for free below and access all of the stories.
I hope these tips are helpful, but I am only one person, so let me know what has worked for you! I can be reached here or via email at email@example.com. Interested in collaborating on something creative? Commission a portrait! The booking period for 2023 is now open.