New Year, Brave You?

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NEW YEAR, BRAVE YOU?
By Sarah Elliston

On this episode of Big Blend Radio’s Quality of Life show, Sarah Elliston shares the steps on how to evaluate your actions and relationships over the past year, and how to make positive changes for the future. 

 

 

A New Year’s Eve ceremony often includes a Burning Bowl. We are invited to burn lists of things we want to release from the previous year, opening the possibility to happier, better things in our lives. I used to list people from work and home, political events, scary things happening in the world, as well as my tendency to overeat and not exercise enough.

The exercise is a symbolic one but I hoped for change in my life. I expected things to change. I expected others to change. However, I have had to look to myself to make changes. 


Currently, these are some of the things I appraise: 

  • Do I argue with people? People I know and don’t know?
  • Is confrontation my initial reaction?
  • Do I disagree with my supervisor enough to get “the look?”
  • Do I consistently forget to do the one thing my significant other has told me means to the world to them?   
  • Have I felt angry and wanted revenge for the actions of a colleague or family member? 
  • Do I find myself loudly defending my views? 
  • Where have I created inconvenience for others because it makes life easier for me? 
  • Do I feel angry much of the time?
  • Have I felt like life is a struggle? 


When I find myself saying yes to even three or four of the above, I have to look carefully at what is going on. It is most likely that I am being difficult for the people in my life and they are avoiding telling me. 


WHY?
It takes a brave person to look at another and say, “Your arguing with every suggestion makes me feel you aren’t interested in my ideas at all and that you really don’t want to work this out.” If a supervisor says it, I read the handwriting on the wall and I better change or get fired.  But if a partner or family member says it, my tendency is to say something like, “You just don’t like my ideas,” and try to convince them.

It takes another brave person to hear the statement and respond to the real feeling behind it. I have had to learn that our culture teaches us to dance around a difficult person and not tell them they are difficult because the reaction can be more arguments, more defensiveness, more sarcasm, more “Do it my way or else.” It’s scary to tell someone that what they do is harmful to the relationship, the family, the celebration, the work environment. A difficult person will usually argue with the statement.

A difficult person continues being difficult if they are unaware of their behavior and its impact on others. Telling someone that they are difficult is a brave thing to do.

I was lucky. I had a boss who did it and blew my mind. She listened to my defensiveness and pointed out how people felt about my actions.  I had no idea people were impacted by my behavior. I stopped. I didn’t want to be fired. I also looked at my family life and friendships and realized I was doing the same behaviors. I started asking my colleagues and family members things like: “Am I being difficult?”  “I am trying to dialogue but does it feel like I am disagreeing all the time?”

Hearing them, listening to them without arguing, reflecting on their point of view is also brave. Taking their point of view and applying it to our own behavior is brave. Asking if our behavior is difficult is brave.


ARE YOU BRAVE?
If any of the behaviors I listed resonate with you, I wonder if you are considered difficult by others. This year, evaluate yourself on how difficult you may be with the people in your life. Consider making a plan to ask more about what others want and to actually listen to them. Consider asking them if you are creating difficulties. 


Try:

“Do I always talk about my frustrations and not listen to yours?”

“Is my tone too angry?  I am trying for passion because I care but I don’t want to turn you off.”

“If I was abrupt, I apologize.”

“Did I just interrupt? Sorry. Finish your thought; I want to understand.”                                                                                


I have learned that my life is happier and more positive when I am looking to my behavior in it, rather than other people’s behavior; wishing they would change. I have stopped listing other people or events for the Burning Bowl. I list the times I wasn’t as friendly or as open-minded or as welcoming as I want to be. I list the times when I made other people’s lives more difficult. I bravely plan to listen more and argue less.  I encourage you to consider doing the same.


Happy New Year. 


Sarah Elliston is the author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us”. A faculty member of the William Glasser Institute, Sarah is a highly successful workshop leader and trainer, who is certified in Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy. www.SarahElliston.com

 

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About the Author:

Sarah Elliston is the author of “Lessons from a Difficult Person – How to Deal With People Like Us”. A faculty member of the William Glasser Institute, Sarah is a highly successful workshop leader and trainer, who is certified in Values Realization, Parent Effectiveness Training and Reality Therapy

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