I’ve recently finished Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of YES,” and while I loved the entire thing, a few chapters stuck to me. Yes to No, Yes to Difficult Conversations was my favorite, because I really suck at saying no and having difficult conversations with people I care about.
I have no problem speaking up to a stranger at Target who’s swearing loud enough for my kids to hear. I have little issue straight up screaming at some asshole who cuts me off in traffic with no signal. Those conversations are easy for me. The boundaries crossed in those situations are clear and universally understood. Plus, I will most likely never see those people again. I don’t care what they think of me and hold little to no emotional attachment to their dislike or judgement.
Those are not difficult conversations.
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It’s the conversations with people I see all the time; those who have far more opportunity to take or ask too much of me that trouble me. The boundaries in these relationships are not always so cut and dry, and when they’re disrespected or shamed, it actually hurts. I do care how these people view me, and it’s probable I hold too much emotional attachment to their dislike and judgment.
These are difficult conversations.
When I get emotionally attached to people, things get weird. Like some strange game of cat and mouse where I’m never really sure which role I’m playing. I have a reputation for being pretty assertive, but also might be the most cautiously socialized person on the planet. I missed the class where everyone learns it’s okay to set boundaries and limits and peace-out of relationships that no longer serve or produce actual joy. The class I took was all about how all responsibility for keeping the relationships in my life happy and healthy falls on me — even if it means sacrificing all that is in me to make them work.
I quite easily back out of things I’ve invested time and effort into — like jobs, engagements, projects, or events. Walking away from people and situations involving the possibility of hurting someone is an entirely different story.
We all know that relationships can be hard and stressful. Sometimes they even suck, right? OR maybe it’s certain people in relationships who suck and make them so hard and stressful. Regardless, I often have trouble deciphering, because I’m busy taking the blame for everything gone wrong. Yes, this is how I operate within totally avoidable, overly dramatic situations with people I sometimes don’t. even. like.
While listening to Shonda’s hilariously relatable audio book last week, I realized what an utterly ridiculous waste of energy many of my relationships have been and officially committed to my year of YES (but also NO).
YES to friendships with people who don’t suck and have genuine interest in sharing relationship responsibilities. YES to hanging with people I actually want to be around and peace-ing out the ones I don’t. YES to relationships with people who know who they are and how to give and take.
NO to bullshit and smothering myself with guilt over not putting up with it. NO to feeling obligated to prove my worth in relationships. NO to extra drama and chaos. NO to taking 100% of the responsibility to make relationships work. NO to the women in my life who wish to compete or compare, or constantly ask me to fix or complete them.
YES to standing firm in my commitment to self. YES to valuing myself in and through rejection and not drowning in self-doubt every time someone decides they don’t like me. YES to NO as a complete sentence; honoring my right to be happy in relationships.
YES to NO, and difficult conversations. YES to ME.
If you do end up having a read (or listen), I’d love to hear your thoughts and which chapters you most connected with and why!!