Imagine I were one of your best friends. And I ring you up and say that I'm going through a really rough patch and need to talk to someone. And I tell you that you are such a good listener and that you give great advice. So could we please have dinner tomorrow night?
You actually have some rather fun plans for tomorrow. However, because I am your good friend, you agree to break those plans and see me. You suggest we meet at a restaurant we've been at together in the past at 8:30 pm the following evening.
The next day, at about six, I call you, and tell you that I just ran into Robert, and I remind you about how much I have always been attracted to him, and that he has invited me out to dinner tonight. I say: You don't mind, do you?
Now your mind is churning with thoughts. WHAT??? you think, yesterday you were falling apart and needed to speak to someone and so asked me for time, and you know I broke my own plans to accommodate you, and now you are blowing me off? But, as you are thinking these thoughts, you are also remembering that I am your very good friend, and so now, the question is: how do you react to what I have just said to you?
Let me interrupt this article here and explain that this hypothetical situation is one that I often pose to clients. I need to know what their reaction would be in this kind of a situation that happens - as I am confident you will agree - rather more frequently than we might like.
So: how do you react to my announcement that I am going to dinner with Robert and not with you?
(Please do think of your response - or remember the last time you were in a similar situation and how you reacted then - before reading on).
Here's the thing: many, many people respond that while they don't like it, they do in fact say that it's ok and that the other person may go ahead and have dinner with Robert.
So if this had been a test, those of you who answered the way many do, let me assure you that you failed miserably ( LOL ). But the reason you failed has to do with the fact that you have let yourself down.
Whenever I pose this hypothetical scenario, I then ask the client: do you not notice that when you are being blown off, and when you allow it, by not saying anything about it, that your gut clenches painfully? And again, most will tell me - and I am confident that in your case it is also the same - that it does indeed clench painfully. And they will often tell me that this clenching is a well-known feeling.
Let me tell you that this clenching is a message from your body to you. You may also wish to read How Your Thoughts Change Your Body and You've Got Mail ... It's From Your Body. What the clenching is saying is that you need to address this situation. You need to say to the other person that what they are doing is not acceptable.
So if you do not want to let yourself down, it is imperative that you learn how to react in situations where others do or say something you find unacceptable, and that you understand what their different reactions to you (assuming you now let them know you find it unacceptable) may mean as well.
First of all: when you feel the clenching, take it to be a message from yourself through that second brain you have in your gut (also see Introducing Our Second and Third Brains: We Do Think With Our Heart and Instinct), that it is absolutely essential that you do something about it. As stated in Part 1 of this article, if you do nothing when you have that very physical feeling, you are letting yourself down. It is tantamount to saying to yourself on this subliminal level, that you are not worth it; that you do not respect yourself enough to do it, and more importantly, that you do not love yourself enough to do it. What do you think a lifetime of giving yourself that message, does to yourself?
Once you have recognized that something needs to be done, understand that this something is based not on you correcting the other person, or becoming angry at the other person, or showing the other person how horrible they are, or how inconsiderate, or changing their way of being, rather, is based on you seeing that you care enough about yourself to speak up when an unacceptable thing is being done or said to you. (Please note that if this is a case of domestic violence, this method should not be used). This means that by speaking up about yourself, you will automatically feel better about yourself!
So if you need to speak up without getting angry, it follows that whatever you do say, needs to come from a place of calmness (even though when you begin to do this, your heart will beat in a most frightful fashion, because you will not be accustomed to doing this, and it will provoke a fear of rejection from the other in you). From this place of calmness, you can say something along the lines that whatever was just said or done is not acceptable, that it is hurtful, or inconsiderate, and in the example offered above, it shows you that the other person (who is standing you up), does not value your friendship the same way you do. You also need to give a consequence (albeit a small one, since is the first time you are speaking up about the matter at hand with this particular person), so you might simply say: Please don't do it again. It's not actually a consequence, but you are putting the other person on guard with respect to a repetition of their behavior.
When I explain this to clients, the reaction is frequently one of tension: no, they say, I could never do that. I could not say such words to another person. Then, of course, when I mention that the reason they feel they can't, is because they fear the other's reaction of potential rejection, I point out that this is a long-ingrained habit (probably rooted in childhood, although not necessarily due to abusive behavior as much, as due to perceived reactions on the part of your parents or caretakers) of allowing others to step on them in unacceptable ways, that is literally eating away at them, and it needs to be conquered in order that they may begin to feel some love for themselves. Conquering it - as conquering anything at all - is a question of tiny step after tiny step. Practice plus intention plus conscious choice.
Having now imagined that this was indeed braved, and said, I then offer several possible reactions on the part of the other. One, of course, is the dreaded rejection, where the 'friend' generally says something in a rather loud, belligerent or offensive tone of voice to the tune of what is wrong with you, it's just a dinner, I don't see what you are getting yourself so worked up about and in the meantime you are shriveling up inside because - just as you feared - you are being rejected.
At this point, I then ask the client: And is this really the kind of friend you want? This bears some thinking about. And remember, the friend is reacting this way in part because he/she is used to you allowing them to step all over you. You have accustomed them to such behavior.
However, let's assume the other person had a better reaction, and - hand over mouth - says something like: Oh my God, I am so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking. Let me re-arrange matters and let's have dinner after all. Clearly this is another kettle of fish, and not only are you feeling better now because you spoke up, but more importantly, because something has been cleared up between the two of you, perhaps after decades of 'unacceptable' behavior on the part of your friend and mute acceptance on your part, and so you can both move forward on a new basis. Further, you have learned that this person is a true friend indeed.
Sadly, as you can imagine, the former reaction is much more typical, at which point your conversation has probably ended. However, despite all this, it may happen that you nevertheless continue in contact with this person, and some months down the road a similar situation ensues. At this point, you really need to refer to the first time you brought it up: we already had a situation like this a couple of months ago, and I asked you not to repeat it. You clearly care much less about our friendship than I do, so I am going to think about this whole thing. I'll be in touch when I've reached a conclusion. Once again, you are affirming to yourself that you care enough about yourself to do this, and you are showing the other person, not only that it is indeed unacceptable to treat you this way, but you are now putting a concrete consequence into the equation: don't call me, I'll call you ... once I've thought about this.
This entire situation (illustrated with one very tiny example, and of course other examples abound in the lives of those who do not take on the responsibility of proving to themselves that they love themselves) and your new behavior will bring you closer to yourself, to an inner connection to yourself and in this process you will be showing yourself that you are on the path to loving yourself in a new and much more healthy way. This is one of the roads to inner freedom and well-being.
Also visit my book website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books. My latest book Emotional Unavailability & Neediness: Two Sides of the Same Coin is out globally on Amazon in print & Kindle. You can also obtain it (or any of my other books) via Barnes & Noble.
Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch (English)
If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.
My blog posts are also featured on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest & you can find me on Instagram
Meine Bücher demnächst auf Deutsch
Mis libros en español próximamente
Mis libros en español próximamente
Angefangen mit Rewiring the Soul - auf Deutsch: Deine Seele und Du (Blog hier), werden meine Bücher weltweit demnächst auf Deutsch bei Amazon erhaltbar sein.
Empezando con Rewiring the Soul - en español: Reconectar con el Alma (blog aquí), se podrán encontrar mis libros en español por todo el mundo próximamente en Amazon.