The Inviting Shift Podcast

S2 Episode 5: Mastering Brave Conversations for Deeper Relationships

September 19, 2023 Christina Smith Season 2 Episode 5
The Inviting Shift Podcast
S2 Episode 5: Mastering Brave Conversations for Deeper Relationships
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever been so consumed with fear at the thought of a difficult conversation that you chose to avoid it altogether? This episode is going to change that. We're embarking on a journey to unravel the complexity of mastering hard conversations, and how this can become a springboard for personal growth and relationship building. We'll share our insights on preparing for these dialogues, and how to discern when it's your emotional baggage rather than the other person's at play.

Our exploration doesn't stop there! We delve deeper into the art of effective communication in relationships, helping you comprehend how to stay vulnerable yet focused during heated discussions. We'll also shed light on distinguishing between everyday triggers and real abusive behavior. With us, you'll learn to set clear intentions, maintain vulnerability, and courageously brave through tough conversations. Remember, while we can't dictate the outcome of a conversation, we certainly can control how we show up. Join us in this insightful journey to create profound, more meaningful relationships through brave conversations.

Join us in the Modern Midlife Mentorship. Learn more.


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Speaker 1:

Hello, today's episode is all about having hard conversations. So I know that a lot of us are working on boundaries, and when we work on boundaries, that usually means that we have to step up and have hard conversations with other people. And this is so important because this is a day and age where every time we run into a bump, we can tend to give up friends, give up relationships, because it just seems too hard. But what I want you to understand about conflict in relationships, or you getting triggered in relationships, is one it's really deeper growth for ourselves if we look at it that way, because it comes with a lot of clarity, having these hard conversations. And so when we go through that, you're going to see how, even if you never had that hard conversation, you might learn a lot more about yourself and what it is that you want. And the second thing is, I truly believe that conflict in relationships are opportunities for deeper connection. For deeper connection because when we connect to, when we actually sit through that hard bump in our relationship together, when we can work that through, we build a lot more trust. We know that we can say things to other people. We do it in a way in which these people are going to feel loved, no matter what. So hard conversations can be so vulnerable. They feel very, very scary, and yet they don't have to be. So today, in this episode, we're going to walk through all of the things that you need to prepare and how to have these conversations in a way that can feel really good.

Speaker 1:

A lot of my clients go through this. A lot of my coaching is really about how to speak your truth in a way in which other people are open, more open to hearing you. Right, because that's the thing that we've read about a hard conversation is that we're not even going to be heard. We're going to be in that conversation and the other person's not really going to be hearing us. We're not going to be hearing the other person because we're both thinking about what we're going to say next and it gets defensive, it gets stuck in the ego. That's not where we want to be. We want to be more in our heart space, and heart space means really getting clear within ourselves what it is that we want and how we're going to approach. We're going to approach the situation, and these hard conversations can be anything. It could be bringing something up in your marriage that you never brought up before Asking for something that you want, asking for something that you don't want, or asking not to have this thing happen, whatever it is. It could also be like this thing you did triggered me and it really has nothing to do with you, and that's what I want us to look at.

Speaker 1:

I have a whole workshop I do, sometimes called Whose Problem Is it, and usually in conflict. We can both own our own stuff, and so I'm going to take just a two minute diatribe on this. People always ask me how do I know whose problem is? Do they need to change? Do they need to do something different or do I? And then I ask them well, who has the emotional problem around it? Well, me, I'm getting really angry that my husband or my friend does X, y and Z. Well then you're the one with the problem. You're the one who gets to change that.

Speaker 1:

And usually what's happening when we get triggered? I know we want to blame that on other people, but really our triggers are our work, and what that means is that my triggers usually are my experience, my past history, the way that I learned things, the way I was raised right All of the ways that inform my perspective. That is what is hurting me. If I was in my higher self, which is an archetype we were talking about in the modern midlife mentorship not an archetype, but part of the archetypes the higher self is if all of our archetypes were in alignment and we didn't have the humanness of ego and emotion, then we would show up in this higher self and that higher self. The only reason we get triggered is because we're telling ourselves a story about what is happening or what is said or what that person is doing. We're telling ourselves a story about how it's about us, and I know that we all do this. So all of that to say, what I need us to do is understand that we contribute to the problem.

Speaker 1:

Okay, this isn't about shaming victims or anything, but we usually, with a lack of boundaries, contribute to the situation in some way. My first marriage I could blame it all on him. I could say that there were things that he did that were absolutely you can't do that, and maybe I didn't do any of those things, but at the same time, I contributed to it by the way that I was treating him, by the way that I was showing up. So I'm not responsible for his actions, but I contributed to the downfall of our marriage. So I want us to recognize that we can contribute, even if we think we're in the right. So this is very important because, without being able to own our pardonant or our perception of it, right, like, oh wow, I was really triggered, but that's because it's this thing my mom used to do, right, or this teacher did, or I was shamed and so it brought up all those old stories that's mine to own. All those old stories are mine. Probably this person wasn't even around when those stories happened, so I get to own that. Yes, I go in into this trigger or I go into this emotion when I start telling myself stories about these things that you're doing.

Speaker 1:

Okay, little diatribe on ownership. We can talk more about it if you want to reach out, and I'll probably do a session on ownership alone because it's such an important piece. But we had to discuss that so that we can prepare properly to have these hard conversations. So, if you're having conflict in one of your relationships or maybe it's not really a conflict with them, but you have like this internal conflict that you want to share with them here's how I want you to approach it First. There's homework to do ahead of time, right? So the first thing that I want you to think about is what is your intention for this conversation? And it's not like to tell them they're wrong, to tell them I'm right. Right, that's not what this is about.

Speaker 1:

What we want to do is see ourselves on the same side as that person when we're in conflict. I know we can see that other person as on the other side of this conflict, but that is not going to help us have the conversation that we really want to have. So what we have to do is see ourselves on the same side, on the same side. So we are on the same side and we. What's on the other side is the problem, right, the conflict that we're having, and we want to get through this conflict so that we can be in connection. So that might be your intention.

Speaker 1:

I want us to have deeper connection, and there's this thing that's in the middle, right, this conflict. That's kind of bothering me, my trigger, my experience, what I heard you say. So what we want to do is focus on the intention, and we're going to use this in our conversation. So we want it to be coming from a loving place, because I'm assuming if you're going to have a hard conversation, it's because you want to be in connection with this other person. So, if you can't think of another intention, the fact that I want us to have deeper connection is an important intention, and then we want to look at what is it that we want.

Speaker 1:

So, if this other person does something or says something that keeps triggering me, then what do I want from that? Right, often we go to well, I want to feel loved, or I want to feel important, or well, that other person can't make us feel anyway. Right, we have to decide. What is it that they could do that I would feel better about? Now, keep in mind, we can ask for whatever we want. Doesn't mean that we'll get it, but it will give us more information about our relationship with this other person. So what is it that I actually want? What does it look like? This thing that I want, and it might be. You joke too much and it often hurts my feelings. I really wish you wouldn't joke as seriously. Right, and this isn't having the conversation. This is just us getting clarity. I highly recommend that you journal about this a few days in a row to go deeper and deeper into what is it that you actually want, what is it that you're craving or missing, so that you can be really, really clear about what it looks like.

Speaker 1:

The other thing that I want you to think about is your intention for showing up, and if you're one of my coaching clients, you have intentions for your life, that kind of guide, all of your choices. We go over them every week, we check in around them to make sure that we're living in alignment with what we say we actually want. So if you have those intentions that's what this is how do you want to show up? So, if I want to feel loved, connected and cared about, well, then I have to show up with love, connection and care in my heart. Right, that's how I'm going to show up. So when we have this focus of how I'm going to show up, then I know that I'm going to approach this conversation in a good way. I'm not going to come from my ego, start getting defensive, right, as long as I have this one space to really focus on the intention for us and the intention for how I show up. So, again, let me go over those three bits, because they're very important pieces to journal or do homework about ahead of this conversation, because if not, you're going into a conversation not knowing what you want out of it, not prepared to show up the way that you want right. You're going to show up in fear instead. If we don't set an intention, we end up showing up in fear, and the way that we react in fear is not often at least in my experience for me, not often the way that I want to.

Speaker 1:

Here's some other things that I really want you to think about while you're approaching this. One is HALTS they use this in AA and a hungry, angry, lonely, tired, sick. You can add a PMS or any other type of discomfort that we're having when we approach conversations. When we are in emotional, physical or mental discomfort, we don't get the results that we want, and that's because we're not approaching it in a good way. We're in this altered discomfort state of mind, which means that we could be in fierce warrior, we could be in wounded child. We are going to be in a space that is not the space for us to ask for what we want. So we want to take care of as much of that discomfort as possible until we can hold space for it. So it might be that, even if I have a long-term illness and I'm often sick I want to wait until I feel the healthiest, until at least, I am really clear within myself that I can hold that discomfort while having this conversation in the loving, intimate way that I want to.

Speaker 1:

I already talked about seeing ourselves on the same side so important to see yourself connected with this person on a team. You are on the same team and you are working against this outside problem, this conflict that you're having. Even if it has to do with actions or words that that other person's doing, that's nothing to do with it. It's really about you. This is about you. I know I just said that, but really, truly, this is about you.

Speaker 1:

So many times we go into these conversations and we're like well, you said and you did, and you, you, you, you, you. That automatically puts the other person into defense. So what we want to think about is what is this about for me? Wow, she said something really harsh to me and what is that about? Wow, I feel, I judge, I believe right, it's all about what I do. I, when I am spoken to that way, I go into this wounded child part of me that thinks that I've done something wrong, and then I want to get defensive because I don't think that I'm being wrong and so I own that. That is my experience. That is how I show up sometimes when I'm not conscious and intentional right. So we can own what it is that we here's how I contributed to this right, here's how I contributed to this conflict was that I brought my own perception, my own experience in. I wasn't really seeing it from your side and I feel I believe I judge this is about me.

Speaker 1:

This discomfort that I am feeling is about me. I need, I need boundaries, I need you to hear me. Whatever that is right, it's I, I, I, I, because no one makes you anything. I want us to remember that. I hear this so often and he makes me mad. He doesn't make you mad. He does this thing and you interpret it in your stories as something that angers you, something that offends you or crosses your boundaries, whatever that anger is about. And so we have to remember that those are our stories. We're interpreting the actions and the words of this other person. We want to stay vulnerable when we are having this. This is about how we're feeling. If we didn't have feelings and stories about this action or the words or whatever is going on, then we wouldn't be triggered by it, it wouldn't bother us at all, we wouldn't have this emotional reaction. But it's the way that our brain is interpreting it.

Speaker 1:

I'm not saying that people can't absolutely like physical abuse and all the abuses. I'm not saying that that can't happen. That's not what this is about. What I'm saying is that I can interpret that in a weird way when it comes to abuse. This is not about abuse. Abuse is a whole other level. These are about little triggers that we're having. I just want to be clear about that, because otherwise this can come out as victim shaming. But this is not about abuse. This is about having these hard conversations around daily triggers that we have my husband not remembering things, him putting something in a place where I told him not to put it, whatever these little triggers are, or maybe there's a comment that said that I don't take very well or has really upset me. That's not abuse, that's just conflict that we have in our relationships. That's what we're talking about here.

Speaker 1:

But we want to get vulnerable in these spaces because we want them to be able to become vulnerable. Until we do something. Show them that we're putting our defenses down. They won't put their defenses down either. We have to make sure that we're vulnerable. Just remember that just because we ask for something doesn't mean that we're going to get it. This is very, very important because we don't want to be mad that we're.

Speaker 1:

Otherwise, we're not really asking, are we? It's a demand, isn't it? If it's more of an ultimatum, and it's an ultimatum, that's not an ask. An ask is what I would love for myself, what I would love for you, what I would love for us. That's the parts that we want to get clear on. What I want for myself is not to get triggered when you joke too much. What I want for myself is to understand that you love me, regardless. What I want from you might be that when you see me getting a little sensitive, I'd really appreciate you stop the joking. I'd love that. I don't control that. What I want for us is to stay really connected and maybe even have a deeper relationship. Whatever it is that I might want, we stay focused on what we truly want. We're not going to get sucked into defense or anything because we're on the same team. This is my teammate, this person that I think I have this conflict with. This is a teammate. How does the conversation go After we've spent a few days really thinking about those questions that I offered? How does the conversation go First? You're going to start with that shared intention. What I want out of this conversation is for us to be really connected. That would be really fantastic. I want us to be even deeper connected. I want to be able to trust you. I want you to be able to trust me. Whatever that intention was that you worked on.

Speaker 1:

Second part owning my stuff. Now I it might look like owning my stuff. It might look like, wow, I know that I have this really big wounded child and me, and when people start talking about specific criticisms, I can go into that wounded spot. That thing that you said right, that I heard you say was it got me right back there. I just went right back to that wounded child and I started asking myself all kinds of stories. All of that is owning. It could also be like I own that.

Speaker 1:

We started arguing and I started saying things that I did not I would not want to say, except that maybe I was in my wounded child or my fierce warrior defending myself. So we can own all of our stuff right. These first two steps really help the defenses come down. I'm not coming at you for an argument. I'm coming to you because I want to be connected to you. It's a compassionate, empathetic, loving way of bringing stuff up right. And here's what I own about this. I know a lot of this could be me, right.

Speaker 1:

And then the third is where we start getting into what is not working for me. What is this conflict about for me? Right, like I don't like to joke as much. I don't like it when we get too jokey and it starts hurting feelings. Right, I don't like name calling. I don't like making fun of things that we can't change about ourselves. Whatever that thing is Right. So what isn't working for you in I statements? It's not you, you, you. You do this wrong. You, you know, joke too much. I don't like it when we joke, right, I statements.

Speaker 1:

The next part is ask for what you want. I want to be really cognizant that you love me and that I that when you're joking with me, you're just joking and it's you know, it's all in fun and lighthearted. What I want from you is to realize, you know, when I say, oh, that's the line. Maybe we could stop joking. What I want for us is to have a really fun, great relationship where we can joke and we can both feel really good. Right, that's what I want for me, for you, for us.

Speaker 1:

Right, then we have to also hold space for them while they talk. This means being really present. I want you to think in your mind I have to be able to repeat all of this stuff back to them, because they may want that. I might want to do that for them so that they are really clear about what they're saying. I might want it done for me. So holding space means really listening. I'm not coming up with a fix it. I'm not coming up with advice. I'm not coming up with a defense while I'm listening. I am listening so that I could tell the story back to you if I needed to. Right, that's really listening.

Speaker 1:

We're also going to lean into curiosity over judgment because, boy, once we put somebody into a category of being rude or insensitive or whatever, we can add a whole bunch of descriptors to them. We don't want to do that. Instead of being judgmental and throwing them in a box and being like, oh, they always do this, we want to be curious. I'm really curious how they think and why they think that this is appropriate or not appropriate or whatever the thing is that's going on. I want to be really curious. Curiosity trumps judgment every time, because when we're curious, we're open to seeing more, more about that person, more about their perspective. Holding space for them is really important. This isn't about judging them. This isn't about fixing things or getting defensive. This is just holding space. It's just words. They're not actually going to kill you.

Speaker 1:

Number six is stay focused on the intention and what you want. Right, staying focused on the intention of staying connected. And then also what I want out of this. Maybe I want my friend to be more sensitive, or I want us to make a line where the jokes stop, because I really start getting hurt, or I might just really want to understand that they love me and then maybe I can handle the jokes a little better. I get to choose where my boundary is, but I want to focus on that and the intention of us being connected or in more trust, or whatever the intention is for this conversation. Lastly, regardless of how the conversation turns out, you might get what you want. You might not get what you want the other person could be defensive and start arguing with you, raising their voice, crossing your boundaries.

Speaker 1:

We are not going to judge ourselves on how this conversation turned out. What I want us to look at is how did I show up to the conversation? Did I show up with my intentions of being caring, connected and loving? Did I show up the way that I wanted to? Because if I did, then I succeeded. I can't control what other people do or say or react. I can control how I showed up to it. If I showed up to it in a caring, loving way, with lots of compassion, not getting defensive, I'm going to feel good that I had that conversation, that I did the brave, courageous thing of having that conversation. I showed up the way that I wanted to.

Speaker 1:

I hope that this all makes sense. This is not about the outcome. We're not going to judge ourselves on the outcome because we can't control other people. This is about us being really proud about being brave and courageous to have these conversations that most of us do not want to have. Instead, we often ghost people, and that's kind of shitty, isn't it? Excuse my language, but it is. It's kind of shitty that we choose to just let people go the way that we build really deep, intimate relationships, which I know that we all crave, either in friendships or partnerships or whatever. We have to stick through the bumps, and having these deep, hard conversations is how we get through the bumps. So I hope that this has been helpful.

Speaker 1:

If you have specific questions, specific conflicts, specific conversations that you want to talk about, reach out to me, because let's get you prepared for that conversation, let's get your courage up, let's get you really clear so you know how you want to show up. And it's so much better than how I used to play out convert I'm going to say this and they're going to say that and then, if they say that I'm going to say this, right, that is not a heart-centered way of having a deep conversation. Getting clear on what you want and how you want to show up that is the intentional and aligned way of showing up in a hard conversation in a good way and being really proud of yourself. I hope that this has been helpful. I'm probably going to leave some notes below so that you have all of the steps, but I want you to really get clear on those few questions about what is the intention for this relationship. What is my intention? How do I want to show up to the conversation? What do I want? What do I not want? What does it look like? These are all the things that we need to get clear on before we even approach these conversations.

Speaker 1:

And if you make mistakes and you look back and you go, oh I could have, what should I? Great, you're learning something. You try to hard conversation. It's probably so much further than so many people that just choose not to have these conversations. They either let people walk over their boundaries or they just ghost people and they end up pretty alone without a lot of people to support them because they've walked away from every bump in every relationship. We don't want to beat either of those. Not a doormat and not someone who hermits. We need other humans. So having hard conversations is a skill that we all could use, and so I hope that you're brave, I hope that you're courageous and loving to yourself by having these conversations. Reach out if you need more support.

Mastering Hard Conversations for Deeper Connection
Effective Communication in Relationships
The Importance of Brave Conversations