Some friends and I were watching a dance performance at the Boulder Theater when a friend-of-a-friend arrived. During an intermission, she began to talk about her recent breakup, and the texts she was now sending him that he wasn’t replying to.
“I told him he was beautiful, and he didn’t say anything. All I need is a ‘thank you.’ Just a ‘thank you.'”
She proceeded to mention a couple of other messages she was “needing” replies from.
When she said it, it knocked me back to the person I am when I say things like this, which is a self that doesn’t quite feel like my full Self. It’s something I’m acutely aware of, and it inspires me to write about how we can start conversations that empower us—even if we never get a response to what we’re expressing.
When we have something to express, how can we communicate what’s truly in our heart?
Often, if we think we need a specific thing in return, it means that we are communicating from a state of lack—that we’re waiting for a response or reaction to fill us up or help us decide what to feel. To need in this way can feel very disempowering.
The urge to express yourself—even in a “blurt out” kind of format—is a beautiful reminder that there is something that needs to be expressed in you, but, it might not be exactly what you think it is.
The next time you notice this feeling, gut-check yourself. Ask what the purest form of your expression could be that will make you feel more empowered, strong and whole—just from saying it.
Of course, we all have a desired outcome. We’re human. I’m not saying that we need to detach from that. The last thing I want to recommend is that we become more detached from our relationships, partners and the intimate and profound connections that can result from these kinds of conversations and expressions.
Let’s say you communicate what’s true for you, and though you desire a certain outcome, you’ve made peace with the expression of your truth as the end result and benefit.
Then, of course, your partner responds.
No matter what that response is, the following can help you come from a nurturing place—and not a controlling place.
I sourced this question from Julia Colwell’s book, “The Relationship Skills Workbook: A DIY Guide to a Thriving Relationship,” which is filled with exercises on how to build (and rebuild) a conscious relationship.
Are you willing to fully hear the other person’s response without doing anything to change his or her experience?
[Of course, I’m not] saying that you should never be nurturing. The ongoing checking in on each other, “How are you doing?” “How does this feel to you?” is what provides the oil to the engine of the relationship. But notice how it’s a slippery slope from checking in to controlling. The tipping point can be found with this question.
We do not operate in a vacuum, nor are we truly as “independent” as we think we are. I believe we are interdependent, and while it’s thought of as a victim mentality to believe that another person can make you feel a certain way, we are all connected and deeply influential upon each other.
However, as Colwell says:
There is a big difference between influence, which happens when we speak from our emotional being, and control (when we get parental).
So: Where to start when you need to communicate something? Start with something unarguable and true, like what you’re feeling. Or, communicate your desires, knowing that you’re doing it for you, not to give the power to someone else to change your world. You change your world.