On a recent Inner Circle coaching call, (an advanced workshop series for our Presence Under Pressure graduates), someone raised the question of how to be more direct without making others uncomfortable…
A few years ago, I might’ve actually responded with some phrasing tips for how to say a hard thing without (g-d forbid 🤦♀️) ruffling feathers…
I can see that my impulse to give that advice was my own survival skill (and superpower) at work: read the room, assess how to keep everyone comfortable, figure out above all else how to keep things light and tension-free… Your truth and boundaries can wait.
Can you relate?
What I’ve come to realize, and what I shared with the women in this clip from an Inner Circle call below, is that this constant concern with how others will react to us is not always our emotional intelligence working for us… It’s often codependency and cultural conditioning keeping us small, inauthentic, and people-pleasy.
Codependency is a learned behavior that requires you to sacrifice your own personal needs to try to meet the needs of others. In turn, you might “depend” on the positive reactions of others to validate your self worth.
Being “codependent” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re dependent on others for basic needs…
Being codependent means that you struggle to have an individual expression without over-concerning yourself with what the reaction will be.
For example, if you need help from someone, maybe you water down your request to avoid “burdening” them, or you infuse your ask with apologies.
Or, if someone’s stepping on your toes, you might hesitate to assert your boundaries or downplay the way their behavior is affecting you.
As children, many of us learned to prioritize pleasing others over asserting our own needs. If you were a “good kid” or a “well-behaved child,” you were cooperative and helpful. You learned to say “yes” even when you really wanted to say “no.”
In adulthood, we’re conditioned (especially as women) to be liked/admired/respected.
To earn these adjectives, we learn to contort our authentic communication styles into something “palatable” and “harmless,” even when we’re the ones being harmed.
But here’s the thing…
It is entirely possible to step out of this pattern of codependency and to express yourself honestly and directly, on your own terms, guided by your own emotions.
While you may make someone uncomfortable in doing so, isn’t a little tension or productive conflict worth it? Aren’t YOU and your boundaries worth it?
If you’re already a big-hearted emotionally intelligent person (which I suspect you are because you’re reading this!), and you find yourself prioritizing other people’s comfort over your own, in conversation after conversation…
The best advice I can give you isn’t to keep abandoning yourself or your needs.
But instead, to take a good hard look at whether prioritizing other people’s comfort over your own authentic self-expression is serving you, your highest good, and ultimately, the highest good of those you’re interacting with.
Would you be taking better care of yourself and others if you let go of the need to control their reactions to you?
What would it feel like to let that go?
It’s time to get comfortable making people uncomfortable, my friend, and to start prioritizing your own authentic self-expression.
Of course, codependency can manifest itself in a wide array of behaviors, beyond the examples we’ve discussed in this post. To learn more, I highly recommend checking out Melody Beattie’s “Codependent No More”.
Thanks so much for being here and for leaning into these conversations with me. It’s a life-long journey—learning and unlearning the skills that serve or don’t serve us— and I admire the heck out of you for sticking with it.
Keep showing up as the you, you most want to be. One intention, one interaction at a time.
Always in your corner,
P.S. If you’ve already taken Presence Under Pressure, our signature 8-week group coaching program, and you’re ready to elevate and integrate your communication and leadership skills even further (and to have more convos like these around boundaries, identity, and conditioning), make sure to hop on the waitlist to join the next Inner Circle cohort, kicking off at the start of 2023.
The Inner Circle: Advanced Workshop Series includes…
Click HERE to learn more and hop on the waitlist. I can’t wait to see you there!
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