On Connecting To Strangers
The Sidewalk Talk Blog
On May 7, 2015 twenty-eight listeners took to the streets of San Francisco to listen. Now, over 7000 people listen on sidewalks to create the kind of change towards human connection that our culture so desperately needs. We want to build a MENTAL HEALTH CREATING culture!
Together, we are! Join Us!
Mental Health Awareness Month Activities
Friday Facebook LIVE
Each Friday in May we will have AMAZING guests on the SWT FB page.
LIVE on Facebook @ 4pm ET, Friday, May 1
We are kicking off Mental Health Awareness Month This Friday With Brad Montague!
LIVE on Facebook @ 4:30pm ET, Friday, May 8
Thomas Knox from Date While You Wait Fame.
LIVE on Facebook @ 4:30pm eT, Friday May 15
Dr. Kelsey Crowe, Best Selling Author of, There Is No Good Card For This
LIVE on Facebook @ 4:30pm ET, Friday, May 22
Dr. Elliot Gann, aka DJ Philthy Drummond Playing a LIVE DJ Set from Today's Future Sound
LIVE on Facebook @ 4:30pm ET, Friday, May 29
Random Acts of Connection
We'll be sharing ideas on all our social channels and would love for you to follow along and share your #RandomActsOfConnection
#GivingTuesday has been moved up. Funds raised in May will be matched by our friends at SimplePractice. And throughout the month, some of our members have given us “daily matching challenges”. Up to $3400 is available for matching. Let's make sure we maximize these donations! We cannot do this without you. Donate Here.
Learning Sidewalk-Tested Listening Together
We’re also using this month to rekindle excitement for our mission by running a live version of our Listener Training in the Listener’s Facebook group and our leaders from around the world will host live Q&A!
One of the downsides of loneliness getting a lot of press with Dr. Vivek Murthy’s book, Together, and others, like Johan Hari’s, Lost Connections, is it can lead folks to shame their lonely feelings.
There is no shame in loneliness.
In fact, loneliness can be a really good sign. It means your human systems are letting you know you need more connection or that you need to help your brain fully see and receive the connection you have!
If you are feeling lonely right now...your systems are working. And if you don’t totally dig feeling lonely that makes total sense. The feeling motivates you to go out and get connection.
And if you are feeling lonely right now and dig the bittersweetness of it, you are not alone. Olivia Wilde’s book, The Lonely City, is a gem. You can read more about it here. For many, loneliness ushers in a kind of poetic reservoir of creativity if one can tap into their resilience while experiencing loneliness.
I have two ways I react to my own lonely feelings.
The negative stuff I do with lonely feelings includes:
Ick. Not fun.
The positive stuff I do with my lonely feelings include:
Rather than something to be controlled, lonely feelings are something to notice and be with and let them inform our choices and livelihood while at the same time not letting them rule our life. Our loneliness always deserves and requires our care and attention.
When we don’t take care of our lonely feelings and when the world doesn’t create more connection, what Dr. Murthy and Johan Hari so nimbly point out, is we create a world of illness. Mental illness. Physical illness. Addiction. Violence. Injustice. These ills start from loneliness.
Go back and listen to the podcast with Spring Washam. Life is a wild ride. Blocking feelings blocks aliveness so practicing cultivating a fierce heart to welcome in loneliness is a practice. And when we practice we impact ourselves and those around us.
I am a fan of not making any one thing we experience as a human bad. So no “war against loneliness” or “get rid of loneliness” or “end loneliness” or “loneliness is shameful” but rather let’s create a connected and caring world. Let’s start right here, right now with you. Let’s create connection and caring about all the parts of you. All the parts of me. Then we can love and care about ALL the many different kinds of people and their parts. Let’s love so much bigger than we ever imagined possible. Loneliness can make us sick or it can remind us to love.
Please take the online belonging survey (2 questions) here (or scroll to the bottom).
Something I notice is in my life is I make up stories about my own belonging. Because I have a wound around not being wanted as a tiny baby, I can get hooked from time to time.
What I now know is there are two sides to this belonging coin. In order to create more belonging in the world we have to create it not only outside, on the sidewalks, but inside of us.
If you feel like you don’t belong you will act that out and probably inadvertently make others feel like they don't belong. We have talked about common enemy intimacy or as Dr. Karyn Hall describes it, “belonging through excluding others”.
Here at Sidewalk Talk we are thinking through new ways to be a belonging creating organization. One of the great challenges is that we have to lock arms and walk together in our perseverance. We have to recognize that creating belonging is both an inside and an outside job.
For example, Sidewalk Talk, as an organization, may not be able to make someone feel like they belong if they have a wound that blocks receiving belonging and connection. The other day I was in a Facebook group and someone didn’t respond to a question of mine. Oh the "not belonging" stories I made up in my head. Ouch. I had to go into my own ‘creating belonging’ resources rather than blame or assume things about my group. Ugh, the wounds for many of us are real.
Here are Dr. Karyn Hall’s tips for creating belonging on the inside mixed in with a few of my own:
On belonging, we would love your help creating innovative and fun ways to create more internal and external belonging here at Sidewalk Talk during this quarantine.
Would you be willing to weigh in on some silly goofy ideas and add your own on this Survey Monkey Survey? It is anonymous.
The last seven days, anxiety crept up on me, by surprise. I was quite haughty, feeling pretty grounded and grateful for the first two weeks of this quarantine. I have space to move and our family life has settled into a collaborative routine/ non routine that seems to be working. And I was working from home long before this thing started.
Our family routine consists of the following:
We all agree to being dressed by 10am.
My boys must exercise for 30 minutes, contribute to the house for 30 minutes, and (while my sons are on Spring Break) read for 30 minutes. Then the rest of the day, while my husband and I work, the boys organize their time in a way that suits them. Yes, even if that means video games or tech devices.
But as time has carried on, I am checking the news more, and my sense of gratitude slips here and there into grief, despair and powerlessness. And the more I pretend I am not having those feelings, anxiety takes their place, whispering to me “Traci pay attention. Listen to me.”
Especially when I see the news in other parts of the world that are not faring as well as I am in Germany. The racial bias in treatment and death rates of non-white communities, folks locked in their homes with little kids and little healthcare, and the long term impacts to people’s livelihood create an existential grief hard to sit still with. When this takes over all of my grand “well what are the opportunities and great lessons from this?” fall by the wayside.
We know survivor guilt and stress of varying kinds is a thing in disasters like the one we are in. What is key is to focus on early intervention to cultivate resilience and to develop the tools for fostering recovery for those more adversely affected.
Here are two resources I highly recommend from the Institute for Disaster Mental Health.
Disaster Mental Health For Healthcare Workers
Disaster Mental Health Support For Personal Use
I am going to pull out a few salient points that I have seen popping up on people’s social media feeds in hopes it helps us support each other as a community.
Best to practice now – not after you already feel awful. Do all the things that work for you. We have varying degrees of stress depending on what we are dealing with. Listen to our podcast interview with Dr. Rick Hanson on how to cultivate resilience here.
The IDMH recommends the following suggestions to cope with COVID19:
Be Non-Judgmental With Yourself and Each Other:
Have you ever wanted to take up a practice of non-judgment? Well, now is your time to practice. Early when this epidemic started, I was curious about my own reactions to people’s strong fear. Good news, I didn’t judge myself nor act out my judgement. Instead I widened my embrace to the different ways we cope.
Some become hypervigilant about germs or germ rules. Others look for connection and community. Others look for someone to blame. And still others are the compassion and kindness police – policing everyone to be nice.
The kindest thing we can do is listen non-judgmentally to others (when we can), even when they are worked up and acting in ways we never would.
If we can hear with whole hearts we can be healing agents during this tough time. And don’t forget to include yourself in that listening.
Bottom line, some of us heeded warnings about Covid19 and others did not. And some of those who did not heed the early warnings are incurring incredible consequences and even death. Negative bystanders are those who finger-wag to seek punishing retribution. “You should have done x, y, z but you didn’t so you don’t deserve my empathy and kindness.”
I had a colleague share she was shamed by a doctor for showing up at the hospital with intense COVID19 symptoms because she was putting other patients at risk. This is someone who did a lot of research of where to go and had severe symptoms that needed medical attention. I know the doctor was scared too. Both were. So let this remind us all, soften, stretch as best you can.
To truly come together in community, we must be willing to support those who are grieving, no matter what choices they did or did not make when this whole thing started.
Cultural differences create very different views of this whole crisis and how to respond. You might believe this is karma, God’s will, mother nature sending a sign, a nice break, or just another natural occurrence we will have to get over. All responses will also differ and we will come out of this better if we can do our best to hear and make room for those differences. Some may feel it important to seek financial restitution. Others may find it important to get active and engage to support the local community. Others may want to go inward into a quiet prayerfulness. Still others may choose to call leaders into account.
To contribute to one another’s wellbeing, we will need to develop the sensitivity to the very personal norms that shape how different people and communities respond to this crisis.
For me, I have made a plan for myself on how to remain resilient and I have made a plan for my SOS moments. Here is an invite for you and your family – make your own plan for cultivating resilience and your SOS moments.
For cultivating resilience, I have kept it simple. I keep one promise to myself every day. I pick one: to meditate for twenty minutes, to run in the trees, or to cry. I have also built in regular connection every day. I just need it. For SOS moments I ask myself “in what ways is my thinking distorted?” and “What are 5 things I have control over in this present moment?”
I know myself and so many others would be so helped by your own sharing below. How do you maintain your resilience and handle your own SOS moments? Put them in the comments. And if you need connection, we have lots of online listening available to you here at Sidewalk Talk. Sign Up Here. And if you are a health worker in the front lines, there is low fee and no fee mental health support available to you here.
Over the years, I have witnessed ways in which empathy and active listening can harm rather than serve.
Weird thing to say, right?
Stay with me.
We all need to digest this fully for empathy to help rather than harm.
In many forms of psychology, the self is not one solid, always consistent, thing. We are moving from different parts of ourselves all the time and growth is about learning our inner architecture so we have more choice in our lives to live freely rather than shackled by psychological patterns that are outside our awareness. When our minds and relating patterns are fixed we are driven by defense mechanisms rather than empowerment.
For some people, active listening and empathy can be a defense mechanism that harms rather than helps.
Below is a diagram from Transactional Analysis. Just one simple model among many different ways to view how the self is split into many parts or ego states. I don't love the primacy given to "thinking" and "rationality" in this diagram and wish the word "thought' under the adult column were swapped out for "regulated" but the image still serves us. albeit, imperfect. (I also love Gestalt Theory, Internal Family Systems, Systems Theory, Jungian Analysis, Trauma and Sensorimotor Therapy, and Indigenous Concentric Systems Framework Theory who all have parts models).
I have witnessed folks who engage in active listening from a parent or child ego state. Their listening isn’t free because they are needing to be a savior, seen as good, or right (parent). These listeners feel badly if talkers don’t share something intensely personal or emotional, don’t get a lot of people coming to share with them, don’t get recognition from the community for their act of service, or they get angry when they are challenged with a boundary.
What is often missed in most listening training is the skill to track what ego state we are listening from that stops equality in our connection.
I am going to throw my own profession and myself lovingly under the bus a bit.
Therapists get into this work for various reasons but often one main one is to help. I know a snaggly part of me studied psychology because I was trying to prove I wasn’t crazy as I was told by my mother my entire childhood. “Something is wrong with you” she would tell me virtually any time I had an emotion that wasn’t happy. I continue to do earnest inner work around my defense mechanisms and I see my work as part of justice work. Yet, while conscious of my ego states more than most, I still get caught in what transactional analysis terms drama triangles.
Photo From Data Hive UK, How To Train Your Brain For Business Success
The Victim sees life as happening to them and feels powerless to change their circumstances. Victims place blame on a Persecutor who can be a person or a situation. Being powerless, the victim ostensibly seeks a rescuer to solve the problem for them. Victims also have a sneaky interest in validating their problem as being unsolvable. The Rescuer, in turn, seems to want to help the victim but in fact acts in a way that is geared to the rescuer's own need to be seen. Forbes, How To Escape The Dreaded Drama Triangle, Blumenfeld
Without intentional inner work, we run the risk of perpetuating a power over, power under dynamic as therapists and empaths.
When I go to a dinner party and folks find out I am a therapist, they almost always ask “Oh are you analyzing me now?” to which I always reply “I only analyze people under two conditions. One, if I am being paid. Two, if I am acting some hurt of my own out and I am using my therapy training to try to gain power (persecutor or parent ego state).”
Non-profit volunteers engage in disempowering “saviorism”, “parent”, “rescuer”, or “power over” dynamics that may harm rather than help.
In fact, I am learning, drama triangles are even more rampant in volunteer work.
Does this mean do not do good? No way.
Does this mean do-gooders are bad people? No way.
It means we have an invitation right now to support equality and health by listening from our empowering adult selves.
And the way to do that is to look inward at how your “do gooder” is and is not an empowering adult part of you.
I will use my own mistakes as a good example of how to do this.
In response to the COVID19 quarantine, my scared child self first took over and felt like a victim because it only saw problems and the worst-case scenarios. I was looking desperately for a rescuer. My inner parent took over to help that inner child but it also quickly wanted to help everyone else too and on to rescuing everyone else I went.
But my adult said “Wait, Traci let’s go for a run, calm down, and think things through.” I got calm and solutions focused and zeroed in on options that were empowering to me and others.
Photo From Data Hive UK, How To Train Your Brain For Business Success
For our listening to provide the kind of connecting that heals our listening needs to be empowered and empowering. To do that, we need to understand our own inner ego states that may have us moving from an inner parent or inner child. When we move from either parent or child inside, we easily get sucked into harmful drama triangles with others.
The goal in our listening, is to move from our adult self and connect from the empowerment triangle. So often we talk about the importance of boundaries here at Sidewalk Talk. Why? Because having none means you are slipping into a rescuer mode in the drama triangle and that connection is not heart-centered and empowering to the talker.
Tips to remain in your empowered adult self when listening:
Let’s enable our listening to be an act of inner and outer empowerment and freedom for all.
Yesterday I was watching Kevin Bacon talk about his hashtag #IStayHomeFor and today, my German Sister-In-Law sent me an article by Matthias Horx. My life, since moving to Germany, involves a lot of staying home. I work from home. I eat at home for all my meals. I do not have a car so leaving home must be a deliberate and intentional act. Most mornings now, I wake up, coffee in bed, and several hours of reading and pondering. Long before #IStayHomeFor was a thing in response to Covid19, it was my reality. And I am thriving in this reality.
Home is interchangeable, for me, with the word heart. “I stay in my heart for…”.
Staying “home” has allowed me to be more self-actualized, more full of a self that is not pulled so quickly into neurotics, hustling for worth, or popularity but slower, soulful, tapped into a different kind of self in community that is wider and deeper. I am getting better at saying “No that doesn’t work for me.” And “Tell me what is happening for you.”
You can imagine I show up at Sidewalk Talk differently from this place. I can feel the usual pulls to go fast, hustle, be relevant according to external standards and then home calls me back. I get a call from an organization to partner, I get self-righteously angry at more white male-led connection projects gaining traction with little awareness of gender or racial bias, or external feedback that I am not a good spokesperson for connection because I am too old, too uncool and I get grumpy and testy...I am hooked to the demands of a homeless self.
But home calls me back. “Come inside Traci. Come rest here in truth.” Maybe home has called me for years and I would hear whispers but now I am in deep dialogue every day with home. I am no longer ok with my own homelessness. I often wonder if the physical representation of our internal state, homelessness on the streets, will ever be solved if we have not come home to ourselves.
This morning, my heart insisted, again. It said “don’t get online”, “Traci make time for your inner ponder”, “Traci come home”. I read Pia Melodie, Jan Gehl, Michael Lehofer, Matthias Horx, Dick Schwartz and took notes and looked out the window, pondered, wandered, and wondered. It is a privilege to have this space. A privilege I want for everyone.
My heart is now filled, ready to write and be in community with you, here on this page. When I finish, I will go outside and run through the trees in the forest with my son, still at home, but outside my home. And then I will have dinner with my family, still at home. And then I will call a friend, still at home.
While I feel worried about the sick and our ability to societally act with leadership and community in this Covid19 pandemic, I also have to admit, this quarantine has quenched something deep in me. For years, I have longed to see heart-centered living where self and community get to dance together on a massive scale. Putting chairs on sidewalks was never about fixing or helping people or promoting therapy.
Listening on sidewalks was a protest I was waging with myself and the world.
A protest that was calling me to “value heart” “stay home” and asking the society to value home and heart with me.
My deepest longing is to have beautiful, vibrant, self-actualized people, with bountiful differences, supported by a societal infrastructure that privileges us all equally to be in community from heart. I practice a kind of therapy that is about finding one’s way home, not addressing baseline symptoms to thrive better in a broken world. Listening is the jumping-off point - it is the starting line.
Listening is the lighthouse in our homeless storm. We were never meant to get good at living cast about on an upset sea.
Often, in these circumstances, we cannot get home without someone walking us there, holding the life raft steady, as Ram Dass so lovingly says.
#IStayHomeFor #IStayInMyHeartFor a world where we all can be in community with our beautiful self-actualized selves. What are you staying home for?
Head and heart are often in a tug of war inside of me. Especially right now. You too? So is fear and love. So is knowledge and wisdom. And so is aloneness and togetherness.
My heart, when I am living from it fully, is filled with birdsong, spring flowers, love, deep sorrow, righteous outrage, and unrequited longing. Inside heart-space is a nondual richness of all things that anchor me to meaning and community and from which my wisest decisions are made. And, truth be told, I inhabit this heart space twenty percent of my day. Still a victory from just a few years ago.
Today, as the world has slowed to a halt and everyone is advised to remain in their homes, the radical shift in what I see out there on city streets has spread me inside in many directions. I am cast about by my nerves, my hopes, my fears, and my faith. More than anything, I can observe, more concretely the faulty lense I knew was there but is now so visible it is like the dust on the bookshelves I cannot unsee once the full light hits them. This new awareness teaches me to quiet my chattering mind and return to my heart over and over again.
My heart is beaming with possibility for massive spiritual and communal awakening and it asks my ego to sit this one out, and go deeper.
Remaining full-hearted takes great care, I have learned. In fact, great GREAT care. To not get swayed by my own neuroses or the world’s neuroses require me to pace myself and ask with heart ‘what is my deepest intention right now?’ For that question always leads me back to the resilience of love rather than hatred and fear.
What I have learned most is self-care is not for soothing, comfort, and avoiding. Self-care is for remaining in my heart and facing.
Last week, I had a 40-minute conversation with Mark Nepo. Mark, for me, lives longer in these spaces of full-heartedness - where wisdom, knowledge, poetry, and longing collide. He is a prolific writer and people with large platforms like Oprah Winfrey (wisely I might ad) have invited him to share his heart with the world. My favorite thing about Mark is his poetry, humility, and equality in how he writes. He invites in the wisdom of indigenous cultures white colonizing history has devalued. He roots spiritual teachings in history so we have a context that prevents feel-good spiritual bypassing.
The conversation Mark and I had for the Sidewalk Talk Podcast did not record. I was sad, at first, but then oddly grateful. There were a couple sweet moments of our dialogue where “audience” dropped away and our conversation was private. Mark advised me about my first book and how to write it. He talked to me about pacing myself and living my pace, not the world’s pace.
My hope is we get another chance to come together but for now, what I want to invite us all to do over this time of “staying inside” is to go buy and read Mark’s book, More Together Than Alone. For every single listener at Sidewalk Talk and any other connection project, take this time to immerse yourself in what it means to be in community, for real. Even if you can’t get out of doors, you can get the book digitally. This book is a life work and took Mark longer to write than any of his other books. He covers history, politics, gun violence, love, hope and most of all, community. But more than anything it offers us something for this moment in time.
As we are immersed in avoiding a spreading contagion, called Covid19, what contagion we really need to heal from is how we, as Mark says, make anyone different an enemy.
How a lack of empathy and hearing one another’s lived stories leads us to consume each other, like shoes to wear and throw away when we are done with them. It is not time for one power to demand we follow a specific set of rules for how to be a person so we might live together. It is time for us to listen so deeply to our differences that we create a way to live together that honors who we all are. Bottom-up, rather than top-down community.
And it is happening. As I see Italian neighborhoods singing on their balconies, doctors and nurses working overtime, musicians offering free concerts, workplaces honoring workers in new ways, and even how we organize here at Sidewalk Talk, perhaps some of this will stick.
Perhaps our contagion of othering and usury will be replaced by heart, empathy, community, and inclusion.
That is my hope anyway. For now, I will start with me and cultivating this awareness here, with me first.
I would love to hear your favorite quotes from More Together Than Alone in the comments or what you hope will be a lasting positive impact from this time of global inwardness.
May we have health.
May we know our hearts.
May we know others’ hearts.
May we create a society that honors all hearts living together.
Sidewalk Talk chapter leaders around the world sit out on public sidewalks to change our culture to a connection culture. We aim to remain heartfelt and intentional so we can create hopeful connections while we all follow the WHO guidelines and local health guidelines during our community recovery from Coronavirus.
Let’s connect now. We would love to hear how you are taking care of yourself in the comments.
In the coming days, start a dialogue on our Instagram and Facebook prompts on all kinds of topics to keep us connecting.
We find some of the best of humanity and ourselves when we face new challenges together. Try something with me? In your mind’s eye, right now, imagine people cooperating and pitching in to find ways to support each other. Get some images of people taking food to someone in need, or keeping someone on quarantine company on the phone. See the class of second graders writing letters to elderly patients to “get well”. Fill out this scene in your mind and let it fill every cell of your body. Breathe in and out with this image several times.
Now be one of these helpers out in the world in whatever way you can.
I am kinda curmudgeonly, most days, but when shit hits the fan my heart just gets plugged into some massive source of hope and love so I am kind of floatin’ around like the neon love balloon again. Maybe we can be neon love balloons for each other right now.
Here is a fun TedX Talk on the direct impact our mindset has on our health. It has loads of very geeky science stuff.
May we be well.
May we be hopeful.
May we be intentional with our mindsets.
May we be helpers.
Sidewalk Talk Official Policy on Coronavirus
I do not have a lot to write today. I just want to invite us all to stand in what Parker Palmer calls righteous speech. There were primary elections in the US and many people are feeling disillusioned by the results.
I am watching, on social media, the opposite of righteous speech and instead self-righteous lecturing and “get over it” stuff.
We have an opportunity, as a community, to be salve be using our Sidewalk-Talk-style listening. We can HEAR each other with heart.
Will you join me in showing up differently?
Will you ask how someone is feeling and stay to hear?
Listen with the Sidewalk Talk HEAR model.
Maybe you will not only create salve for another human feeling a lot, Maybe you will learn something new by listening to another’s heart.
We are all susceptible to blind spots. Happily, I am the kind of person who likes to share mine, so you can have a good laugh, feel like you aren’t alone, and be more willing to look at your own human foibles. I am told this is my secret sauce. Yay for imperfection. We are rockin’ it out together!
This week I was reflecting with Nevada Sidewalk Talk Chapter Leader, Michael Tedesco (thanks Michael). We were both challenging each other and empathizing with each other on different aspects of leadership we both struggle with so that we could support one another in growing. It is so nice when folks can just be bold with you. The leaders crew here are some of my favorite because there is an earnestness to keep on growing through self-reflection, self-responsibility, and dialogue.
Being an earnest human who wants to look at their flaws takes one large sense of humor.
Doing flaws well also takes the ability to take an inventory without shame. I like to make lists of my mistakes and then think through what I can change and what I am just going to have to say “Um that is me and probably will be a flaw I go to the dirt with” so people can feel empowered to choose if I am their cup of tea and I don’t spin my wheels trying to please everyone.
Here is my list of mess ups around connection from the last few weeks. Have a laugh and then make your own. It is really good practice.
1. Believing that people, life, and the world should be a certain way.
When someone uses a tone of voice we don’t like, doesn’t call us back, or is unfair we may want to “should” all over the situation. They should NOT have done x, y, and z. In the podcast with Dr. Christian Conte, he talked about cartoon world and real world.
The more we deny the hard truth of the real world the less likely we are to respond in any sort of connective fashion.
I am not saying not to set limits. Actually, the opposite. But, I notice I have no problem setting a limit when I don’t expect every person to just follow my own inner set of standards. If I get caught up in a “They should have x, y, z” I may be too damn righteous to bother dialoguing. You see how this works?
By assuming, I cut off dialogue. Not great for connection and intimacy.
2. Be clear and up front about what you need in the moment. You might wonder, “But Traci, isn’t that selfish? How does that have to do with connection?”
I will throw it back to you with a question. Have you ever not been clear with someone that they should ‘please take your shoes off before coming into my house’ only to later find mud tracks all over your white carpet?
How did you feel about that person when they didn’t notice they had left a trail of mud in your house? More connected? More intimate? I didn’t think so.
Ok, maybe it is a bad metaphor but usually, when we aren’t clear about what we need, we are not protecting our connections with others, we are jeopardizing them. See how that works?
I had a tech job that I liked but I got so pissed because I was in a new territory that wasn’t making any money. I tried to quit but in a lengthy dialogue with the CEO he confronted me. He said “Traci, you have a right to be paid what you are worth. Rather than getting mad, you could shared what you needed to be financially whole. I support you demanding a raise.”
I left his office with a massive life lesson and a 20% - YES TWENTY- percent raise.
3. Not setting limits and not receiving limits.
First, I must attribute my use of the word limits to Michael Tedesco. For ages, the word boundaries, for whatever reason, conjures images of walls – static, unchanging, rigid, and cold. Limits, however, feels flexible and contextual.
Here is the rub. After the person from above has walked on your carpet with muddy shoes, if you still do not ask them to take off their shoes, again you jeopardize intimacy and connection with them and, frankly, with yourself. Only bad feelings can emerge.
And I get it. We don’t set limits because some folks react to them and we want to avoid their reaction. But their reaction lets you know you have been heard, as Randi Buckley often says (she is the boundaries master and will be coming on the podcast soon).
Reacting to limits and even judging folks as unreasonable for setting limits is so disruptive to connection.
Magic wand wish? This whole “You are unreasonable for needing what you need and having the limits that you have” is the one thing I would swap for “We all get to have needs and limits and communicating them IS connection".
Am I good at setting limits in clear, kind ways?
Am I good at receiving limits in clear, kind ways?
What assumptions do I make about the other person in that whole giving and receiving limits process?
My hope is we can all do better at this connection stuff. That our hearts can stretch wide with love in these hard spaces and keep trying.
I am a woman, therapist, wife, mom, friend, listener, and founder/leader of Sidewalk Talk. You can subscribe to my couples therapy list here.