Life is full of decisions. We make a million of them every day, most of which seem to have no significant impact on our worlds. The obvious big decisions we struggle with—do we have a baby? Should I buy a house? Should I quit my job? But the smaller decisions can actually have a larger impact on our lives that we don’t even realize at the time we make them.
That decision of whether to stop for fast food on the way home or cook dinner even though we don’t feel like it can lead in so many different directions. It seems insignificant but I learned it wasn’t one day when my son decided to cook with me and we wound up having a really deep conversation in the process. On some movies choosing between chicken or steak as the meal on a flight is the difference between whether you get food poisoning or are one of the few NOT puking your guts out at 20,000 feet. My point is you never know where the decisions you make are going to steer you.
Then there are people decisions. We meet so many people during our lives. I talked in my last post about the Reason, Season or Lifetime philosophy of those people. What I didn’t discuss was how often you find yourself actually having to make a conscious decision about the Reason and Season people.
One of the things that makes these relationships a challenge is that sometimes you know it’s not working out and you know it is time to end that relationship. You have to make a conscious decision to change something. Now THAT is a toughie. Or at least for me it is. I strive to never hurt anyone. The problem there is sometimes I wind up hurting myself in the process. Of course part of my dysfunction is that I put my own needs dead last in the priority list (I’m working on this, but it’s a struggle). But often there comes a point where I absolutely HAVE to do something.
There have been times in my life where that “something” was just a straight up I’m done with this person and they are out of my sphere. Other times it’s not been quite that clear. I’ve known SOMETHING needed to change but wasn’t entirely certain what or how. In those cases I’ve often been stagnant and unable to do anything. In recent months boy has that changed. I’ve finally realized that no one is going to put my needs higher on their own lists. If anyone is going to stand up for me, it needs to be me first. It doesn’t mean that I go off willy-nilly telling people off or how they have offended me mightily. That wouldn’t be being true to me. But what it does mean is that rather than holding my tongue I speak my mind—as kindly as I can. I sometimes use e-mail to express myself first, but ALWAYS with the caveat to the other person that I really am happy to talk about the issue, but am using e-mail first because I’m a writer first and foremost, and while I tend to put my foot in my mouth with flourish when I try to talk about my thoughts and feelings, I am actually coherent in e-mail.
The result has been a good one. I have been able to have frank, open conversations in ways I’ve never been good at before. I’ve had a few people who, after reading my feelings, told me to f-off. But for the most part it has resulted in further conversations where the other person realized they hadn’t understood where I was coming from.
Am I recommending writing for everyone? No. What I think is that everyone needs to figure out an open form of communication with their friends and loved ones that works for them. I had a friend who always wanted to talk, but preferred to leave a voice mail first. She literally would call and tell the person to hang up and let voice mail answer. Quirky? Yes. Effective? For her, yes. For my brothers it has always been we need to sit down and talk. Intimidating at times? Yep. Effective?
There are as many methods of communication as there are people on the planet. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but you owe it to yourself and those you care about. Figure out how you do it best and then make the decision to DO IT. No one is going to read your mind or magically know how you feel. We owe it to each other to just be honest. Especially with yourself.