It can be challenging to manage developing relationships and the expectations we carry. How do we have those difficult conversations?
I am sure you have experienced moments where you love and care about someone and don’t want to hurt their feelings. Or how about the fear of your friend or loved one feeling rejected or angry?! ARGH!!
Yet, it’s apparent that you have different truths, needs, and feelings at the moment.
I want to share with you today, one of my favorite step-by-step processes when it comes to radical honesty with an overtone of compassion.
After speaking to a friend this week, they share with me the experience of meeting this new friend. They shared how amazing the connection was. Imagine as she shared with me, that you’re both laughing together and having fun together, and you both love hanging out.
In your mind and your body, you know that you’re enjoying a platonic friendship, and that’s all you want. One day you start to notice that this other person starts to flirt with you a little more and starts to touch you a little more intimately. And it just doesn’t feel good in your body. You begin to notice contraction and silently say to yourself, “Oh, this doesn’t feel good!!!” But I like this person, AS A FRIEND!
I know I’ve been there, not wanting to hurt feelings, scare someone away, and you might be in that situation where you hold your voice back out of confusion and fear.
Well, I know all too well how messy and entangled things can get in the long run when we hold those voices back. Your breath starts to contract, your body contracts; you begin to feel more reactive towards the things that they’re doing that might potentially cross some of your boundaries.
Eventually, it turns out to be this big explosion and wreaking havoc, not just on the friendship, but on our well-being.
Here are some of my fav practices in 5 steps to apply during these challenging moments.
Step One: I love getting still and quiet to sort through my thoughts, feelings, needs, and boundaries before having a conversation that might be edgier and uncomfortable. This process helps prepare us, so when we enter into that space, we can have greater clarity.
When you sit and find stillness, reflect on this situation, this new friendship, and feel how vulnerable it potentially is to you to share this level of radical honesty that you’re preparing to share with this person. Take a breath and feel what happens in your body when you acknowledge vulnerability. Give the nervous system a chance to catch up and recognize what’s happening.
Once you’ve gone through the above contemplations, continue as follows:
Write down what you are celebrating about this new friendship. So you want to offer acknowledgments. Start difficult communications by acknowledging what is working, because that demonstrates love and enthusiasm. There’s something that you share versus immediately going to your no’s and sounding more like rejection. By doing so, you are opening up a door to greater connection and intimacy.
Write down your acknowledgments and celebrations. Maybe you’re celebrating how much you laugh together and love going to the river, or you love going hiking together. There’s fun being together, and you feel that in your body!. Write that list down! Make sure that you are super clear on what those are.
Step two: What doesn’t feel good in your body? What interactions or actions are you a distinct “no” at this moment? One of the things that we know is change is happening in every single moment. So what you’re a “no” to today can potentially change months down the road that you can revisit. Never be scared to revisit a conversation. I always say the more we communicate, the better.
So what are you a “no” too? Make sure to write that down. Often, expressing boundaries and the “no” to that topic can be very edgy and uncomfortable. Especially if we tend to want to take care of others and think by not speaking our feelings and needs, we are caring for them. Maybe you’re a “no” to them touching you in a certain way, or having sexual interactions, or kissing on the lips.
Make sure that in this process, you get specific. So there’s no room for misinterpretation of what your “no’s” are and take a breath while you reflect. I love pausing between these processes and taking a breath. Take some time to see how it feels in your body. You might even feel your body adjusting to the clarity that you are getting from your “no’s.” You might feel your shoulders going up towards your ears, nervous in your belly, and your heart might be racing a little more. Make sure to take a couple of breaths, even let out—a big sigh. We always want that nervous system to catch up and to have the space to feel calm during these processes.
Step Three: Get clear on what you’re a “yes” to. In the beginning, you were celebrating, acknowledging this new friendship. You built more awareness of what you admired and loved about this new friend. It is time to be clear on what you desire to experience with them! Make sure to write down the list, because this is going to be the piece that’s going to lead into potentially a new co-creation with this friendship. Once you have the whole list down and you’ve sat with it and got clarity, now comes the step where you are creating the space to communicate your intentions to this new friend.
Step Four: Schedule the time and be honest that you have something vulnerable to share if that is true for you. Take some time to notice what you feel, don’t ignore it! It will add to the heart of the conversation and the degree of intimacy. We don’t necessarily love to be vulnerable all the time because it can be edgy. But again, when we step into something with greater vulnerability, even though it might feel nervous and scary, it’s often going to bring us closer to intimacy, understanding, connection, and being more inviting towards another to lean more into a friendship.
If I was going into a conversation like this that felt super edgy, I might approach it by saying, “I’ve noticed that I have something I want to share with you. What I recognize right now is my heart’s racing a little bit, and I’m feeling a little nervous in my body. and this is vulnerable for me to open my heart up to you in this way.”
By starting like that, if that was my truth at the moment, it means just putting it all out there. Don’t hide it, own it! I want to let another into those spaces; I want them to know me!
Hiding creates contraction, resistance, and creates more disconnect from the person we want to develop this friendship with. By starting with vulnerability, the other person is now even more likely to have compassion and empathy, a deeper listening and presence to what you’re about to share.
Now would be a great time to go through that list, share with them the things like, wow, I’m so excited about this new friendship. I love the way we laughed together and our mutual interest. I love going on hikes for you and the way that you appreciate nature, like celebrate them and then clearly share with them again, your “no’s,” your yeses, and then ask them, give them an invitation.
“Do you want to co-create this platonic friendship with me? You know, I can imagine that you potentially might be feeling disappointed because I understand your enthusiasm and excitement to want more. I would love to continue growing this friendship with you. How does that feel for you? ”
Communicating with awareness and presence both have an empowered decision to move forth and create this new relationship, this new friendship from a very, clear place. There are now infinite possibilities of growth and connection in a relationship like that—even a platonic friendship.
I believe Intimacy and Compassion are the Bridge to a Deeper Human Connection. Join us starting July 1st for this Ten + week community LIVE course www.redefining-intimacy.com.