Have You Had To Speak Up In A Difficult Situation?

By Natalie Caine, M.A.
NABBW’s Empty Nest Expert

Did you speak up or let it be? A woman I worked with didn\’t think it was ok for her to share with her kids that she wanted what she wanted, which was to make her own choices about whether to travel or stay home.

She used the words, wanted what she wanted because that was the unspoken truth. It is her choice and she forgot that thought. Yes, she heard all the reasons why she needed to go on a trip to “get out there” and yet she didn\’t think it was ok for them to hear all her reasons of why not to go. Differences happen. Who gets the final vote?

A college grad told me she didn\’t want to come back home. She feared the lectures and lack of trust her parents fed to her. She can feed herself, was her response. She had a plan that paid the summer bills.

Her parents had a plan for her to be home for a change. They truly believed it was the right thing for her daughter to work in their home town and be with the family.

What do you think she did? She spoke up, listened, made a choice, including the consequences and worked away from her home town for the summer. Her parents turned around and realized it was their daughter\’s choice. The parents, as all do, got caught in the role they used to play and forgot they were still learning how to be a parent to an adult child.

Divorce, fueled by hurt, helps in speaking up, and yet fear is fear. A man wanted his wife to know he didn\’t do a good job as husband but he said it too often and it washed down the drain. This time he came up with a new idea, he was generous with her and that was his speaking up decision. No longer apologizing but stepping up with an action.

Women have shared with me in our groups that they no longer enjoy the longtime friends they have. They wanted to find the words to say goodbye and then make new friendships.

Have you been in that situation?

Each reviewed what they were receiving and giving in the friendship. All realized they had carried each other\’s history and that had a deep value. Was the giving and receiving tipped in one direction more than the other too often.

In what situation were your feelings hurt? Did you express it at the time? Do you need to say it now? Are you open to them being more of a listener for you? Can you make a short list of what truly matters in that friendship and ask if they want to contribute that to the friendship.

One woman shared that a shallow friendship, one that doesn\’t dive deep, is OK if it is fun and giving. Another woman, as we often talked about, longed for deeper conversations with a friend. She didn\’t have the energy or time for a dozen and wanted three that added a lift to her and wonderment about life.

When is the last time you told a friend your hurt feelings and what you would like in the friendship? Did it help you?

Even if a friendship ends, speaking up might be a healer for you, don\’t you think?

Cutting all friendships from your life might not be the healthiest decision and yet that is what one woman wanted to do. She decided to sit with all those complex feelings for a week, journaling, before she made a phone call. In the end, she said goodbye to two and named the behaviors of why she no longer wanted to feed the friendship, one being that her friend was negative and needy rather than shifting and giving. She thought before she called about the anger that might fly or the begging for another chance. She decided she could handle those behaviors more than the lack of fun she was having in that friendship.

Leaving a job where you don\’t feel valued is common. Talking about your feelings brings up trust and punishment, doesn\’t it? Do you think it helps to express the positive as well as the challenges or just say what is frustrating you?

Three women told their story of meeting with their bosses and holding the line. They made a list of pros and cons of their job title. They listed their needs which weren\’t about money alone and yes about being heard and acknowledged.

It is human to want feedback about your work, the good and the not so good, so you have choices of how to make a change. Two left the job and one worked it out, now being happy. All learned more about themselves in the decision process. They could handle the unknown.

When the pain is more than the gain, practice the thoughts and words you want to express when you aren\’t attached to the ending nor stomping in a tantrum. Curiosity and compassion, as you know, are two of my longtime friends. Open to possibilities and take a step outside your comfort zone. You are already unhappy and that you know. Imagine what you don\’t know, yet.

Hope those difficult conversations become a growing edge for you and a place of knowing yourself better. You don\’t have to have a perfect script. Mistakes happen. Starting over is an option when you deeply feel the pain you have put on another.

Take good care,
Natalie

Change is inevitable. Get Ready. Get Support. Life transitions need a hand to hold.

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natalie@emptynestsupport.com

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