Tuesday Tales: Can you share your truth? – Donna Thistlethwaite

Do you ever find yourself getting frustrated by someone else’s behaviour? Maybe it’s your intimate partner, your child or a work colleague. WHY, why do they do that? Why don’t they do this? Why are they so hard to understand? Why don’t they understand me?

Sometimes relationships can be super challenging. At times we might even consider running away, or avoiding, a situation or relationship because it feels impossible to get what we want or need in them. Have you ever experienced this? Maybe it’s just me ????

Lately I have found myself frustrated a lot because my family and I have such different personalities and interests and sometimes these conflict because we share a home. For example, I’m not much into television but music feeds my soul. My music will often get shut down because they want the television on.

“Put on your headphones mum” I’m told but I feel lonely and isolated when I do that. I feel like we’re living parallel, rather than connected, lives.

I’ve noticed that in the past when these sorts of situations arise I’ve retreated to my work or buried my feelings, particularly because I subscribe to the idea that we can’t change others we can only change ourselves. I’ve attempted, sometimes with success and sometimes without, to change my expectations, to increase my acceptance and/or to respond from a place of love.

What I’ve also tried over the past couple of years, and particularly when I’ve struggled recently, is to have honest conversations about where I’m at and what I’m seeking in life. What MY wants, needs and dreams are and from a place of love. It’s not always easy to have such conversations at first but I feel like it gets easier the more I do it.

Something that I’ve found really helpful is to own what I’m feeling or needing. I’m not blaming anyone else for my experience, I’m just communicating what’s coming up for me. It’s up to the other party to decide what they want to do with that information.

Examples of the sentence starters I’ve found helpful are:

“When this happens, I feel ………………………………………….”

“The way I’m experiencing this is ………………………………………….”

“My brain went to …………………………………………. Is that what you’re saying/thinking”

“What is coming up for me is ………………………………………….”

“How I’m interpreting this is ………………………………………….”

“What I feel like I need is ………………………………………….”

Some examples might be:

“When we are constantly involved in different activities in the house, I feel lonely and disconnected.” Yep, I get that I can work on my connection with myself but sometimes I just want to enjoy some connection with the people I love.

“I feel like I really need some fun and connection today could we do something together?”

“I feel like cooking the dinner together will make it feel less of a chore for me, could be fun and I’ll feel less overwhelmed.

You will notice a lot of “I”s in these sentences. “I statements” can be so powerful in our communications in every context of our life … People are less likely to feel blamed or attacked and are therefore not as likely to respond defensively. With an “I statement” we are acknowledging that the person’s intention might be completely different from our interpretation of their behaviour.

We can’t ever expect others to read our minds so let’s all be honest and open with each other, from a place of love, so that we can increase the chances that all have our needs met more and can live our best lives together.

What do you think?

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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