I really am in awe in all of you doing incredible things out in the world– including living in to the practice of self-love in very real and very honest ways.
Speaking of which– one of the topics that came through was about having difficult conversations.
I’ve become an expert over the years– not because I always know what to do— more so because they keep showing up and I keep leaning in. Messily, humanly and oh so in the desire to be more honest, more loving and more willing to be uncomfortable if it means I am saying the things that need to be said.
Sometimes they don’t — need to be said.
We can say them to ourselves or to someone we trust and feel safe with– and that is enough.
And then there are those moments—- like when my father told me that we should just forget about all the things my mom did while she was alive– that I couldn’t not say what was in my heart to him.
Maybe what you want to say is big like that was for me (I couldn’t pretend my childhood abuse didn’t happen) or maybe it’s confronting your manager about wanting to do different work projects or get that promotion you know belongs to you that could have a bit less emotional charge.
These moments are their own types of leaps of faith.
We don’t know exactly what to say or how to begin– and we for sure, don’t know exactly how they will be received.
In honoring all of that, here are a few things I use when I’m in a difficult conversation moment (please feel free to borrow, tweak as it fits you best):
- As difficult as it is, I practice slowing down. I usually want to get these convos over and done with as fast as possible. However, I’ve learned over the years that isn’t always what is best for my nervous system and me. So, I give myself lots of space to feel what’s coming up (hello fear) and to create self-safety. Self-safety for me is all about the place where no matter what happens– I know without a shadow of a doubt– that I am here for me. I create my safety— and in doing such— I can respond to any situation in the way that is best for me. This could mean leaving the conversation or it could be a boundary like “I’m not open to discussing that” or “I need a break”.
- Instead of just forcing my way through it— I take the bowling alley bumper approach. What bumpers can I use/add/create to support myself? This may mean talking it through with a friend or coach beforehand. This may mean lots of extra love like a Reiki treatment before or after to love on my mind, body, spirit. This includes feeling my feelings in my body first before I take any action– that way I really have held space for myself. I schedule time before and after the conversation to be so loving and supportive of myself and to give my nervous system the time it needs.
- I get clear about what outcome I want from the conversation. For so long, I would react with emotion (no judgment here) but not really know what I wanted. This is probably one of the best things I learned and now teach as a coach. So many conversations that are difficult swim around in the murky waters of defending or explaining— without looking at the expected outcome we desire. What do you want?
- Which leads me to one of the hardest things to practice (especially in a difficult spot)– which is listening. I have coached hundreds of people around difficult conversations- and what always comes up is how the other person is going to respond. It’s like we all know exactly what is in someone else’s head/heart/moment. And the truth is — we don’t. Let there be awkward pauses (another really great tool that isn’t so fun in the moment). Listen and ask questions — especially if this is a relationship and person you love. Because you may get to the outcome you desire– but not necessarily have it look like you planned it to be in your mind (and that’s okay). More often than not— there is a gap that is available if we are willing to hold our truths and others’ truths without someone having to win and someone having to lose. I find that space, that gap usually reveals itself to me if I am willing to make space, listen and lean on love to guide me.
A little practical tool that I use (and teach all the time) is have the first sentence or two planned ahead of time– give yourself that gift of opening the conversation with a short script. You can also have a few one-liners in case the conversation needs to pivot, stop or change gears. Plus, my nervous system feels way more at ease having some ideas for what to say — especially if certain things come up and at the time when I know I want to end the discussion.
For anyone reading this right now that has a difficult conversation in your near future– I’m wrapping you in love. I’m holding space for imperfection and emotions and all the things we carry above and below the surface when we have these types of moments.
Only you know what, how and when to honor this nudge and the best part, you already have everything within you to help be your guide.
PS. This is not meant for people in your life who are abusive or in any way could cause you harm– in that case, a different approach altogether would be best – deferring of course to your best judgment (which for me when that happened was not having any interactions ever again).