Personal and professional expansion is such an amazing, beautiful, and hard process. It is one filled with ALL of the emotions. While we push past the limiting beliefs that generations of family and society has placed on us, there is fear.
Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being alone, fear of losing those you love because they don’t understand or agree with you. I have gone through all of these fears in my head over and over for a decade before making my leap.
I continue to move through them as I continue to expand and dream.
As we sell our home to move back to New York from Georgia after almost 20 years, another layer of limiting beliefs show up.
The tricky part is that these are not my limiting beliefs, but husband’s.
As I dream bigger, he contracts. He wants to build his dream house and I agree with two conditions…it must be on the water and it must be over an acre . He begins telling me I am dreaming too big. He tells me that “only rich people live on the water and I am acting like we are rich when we are not”. I feel the frustration building. Yet another person telling me I dream too big. That I am too much. Yes…I know these exact words are not coming out of his mouth, but I have heard and witnessed these sentiments before.
As I express my big dreams of creating a wellness center, living on the beach in NY in our dream house, traveling the world with our family, paying for the kids college, creating a movement of change, I am told I dream too big.
I speak to hundreds of women who are told the same thing in one way or another by family ,friends, significant others…people who they care about and really do care about them.
I have given space for my husband to dream and we both notice his dreams are different than mine. It doesn’t mean either are wrong. They are just different. He doesn’t have the calling to change the world. He wants to make his world better for his family. I get that. And it’s difficult to hold space for that when you have always been a visionary. I have been gifted with the ability to see the global picture. He has been gifted to see what is right in front of him. It’s an interesting dynamic to say the least. I also know that I am not alone in this struggle.
So, how do we move forward, together, when we have so many differences?
It has not been pretty by any means. I know where we came from 18 years ago when we met at the tender age of 24, which was really messy and hurtful. And I know where we are now, which is still kinda messy, sometimes a tad hurtful, passionate, thoughtful, and open minded (though I still believe I am more open minded than him, and he would still disagree).
In this huge life decision we are currently in the middle of, we find ourself at odds again, to no surprise honestly. There are still times I am far from effective when I raise my voice with passion and conviction. There are still times he is far from effective, shutting down and losing himself in a movie. If you are wondering, this actually just happened yesterday. Something was different though. In the end, I was able to stop our old coping skills based out of fear and ego, and was able to talk some of my thoughts and feelings through with an open mind and heart.
Just in case you are wondering how, here are a few tips and tools I picked up along the way:
Pause. Take a pause before responding. I have a tendency to move straight into my emotions. Although it’s important for me to honor my emotions as information and communication that something important is happening, when I react solely from my emotions, I can say and do hurtful things that I am not proud of. My goal is to foster the relationships that are important to me, not hurt them. So in order for me to be effective in achieving my goal, I need to pause. The easiest way for me to do this is to simply breathe. That’s right. Take a breath…and sometimes several…to allow my rational part of the brain to integrate into my emotional part of the brain.
Honesty. Honesty about my thoughts and feelings is a must. I used to store everything up in fear of being abandoned, rejected, or hurting a loved one. I was afraid to be honest because that is one of the most vulnerable actions I can take. If I have found that when I do this, the truth usually comes out sideways in my words or behaviors and eventually, I end up doing the thing I tried so hard not to do…I hurt the person I care about, as well as create a list of shame for me to heal from at a later date. So first, you take a pause to gather your thoughts, and then you are honest about how you are feeling (little tip here…it’s usually fear or hurt) and what you are thinking and needing at that moment.
Take a Break. If it’s a really intense conversation, sometimes I need a time out. I need to walk away and clear my head, and energy, so I can think and feel more clearly about the situation. During my latest hard convo listed above, I took a 5 1/2 mile hike before I could return to the conversation with full heart and clear mind. Just let the other person know that is what you need, and that you will return to the conversation within the next 24 hours, or whatever time you deem necessary. Be sure to identify a time of returning to the conversation though. This is not meant to avoid the topic. It’s just about giving it space.
Compassion. This means compassion for self and others. Bring awareness to your fears, frustrations, hurts, anger, and be gentle with yourself. Know you are having these feelings for a reason and be kind to whatever you may be saying in your head, or out loud, even if it isn’t your proudest moment. There are times I let my fear overcome me and yell. It isn’t my proudest moment, and there is no sense in beating myself up about it over and over. I recognize it, apologize when I feel it’s necessary, and move on. I suggest you do the same for the other party. See them for a human being also having all the feelings, and sometimes not being the best at expressing them if they have hurt you. Compassion is key to keeping an open heart and open mind.
Compromise. This is where some tips from one of the CEO’s I have had the pleasure of working with comes to play. He would tell me “the best outcome is where we both feel like we won and lost something”. I was looking for the term for this outcome, like win-win, but could not find it exactly. So, the best word and recommendation would be to compromise from both sides. For instance, something my husband wants to do is buy a cheap house outright that we will own and fix up for a rental. I really didn’t think this was our best option. My husband also wanted the kids to go to his old grade school and I really leaned towards the side of them going to my old school. So the compromise was to purchase a house we both agreed on, and to have the kids go to my old school. We are both giving up something and gaining something. The tricky part here is letting go of ego (or as I see it in this example, the need to be right and the other person to be wrong).
So, although I would absolutely love to avoid all difficult conversations in my relationships (part of the conditioned people pleaser in me), it is absolutely imperative to approach these hard convos in order for my relationships and myself to grow and expand. I hope these tips are helpful in some of your situations!
*Disclaimer-if you are in an emotionally, mentally, financially, and/or physically abusive relationship, these tools will not be helpful. Please seek immediate guidance and support from your local therapist or Domestic Violence Agency.*