If there is one question we ask more than any other in life (whether or not we’re even aware we’re asking) is where do I stand?
Where do I stand…In my job? Compared to that woman who looks like she has all her shit together? Compared to most people my age? Where do I stand in this relationship?
And, speaking of relationships, where do I stand with you today? Is your mood a reflection of me, or a reflection of you? Where is your energy at, and what do you need? Can you help me with what I need, too?
We’re continually asking these questions…at least, inside our minds.
It’s easy to fall for the illusion of mind-reading. We know how we feel, and we assume the other person does as well, and vice versa. So, we don’t say anything. We neither offer nor inquire. I’ve found that next step, whether it be to ask or inform, so fundamental to the success of any relationship, it is one of my highest personal priorities. I make every effort I can to communicate these things to my husband and boyfriend, and I encourage them to ask these questions of me. Sometimes, it’s not even a question. Rather, a context:
FYI, I’m just having one of those days. If I seem pissy, it’s not you.
Maintaining this kind of transparency requires a conscious effort on everyone’s part, but it pays enormous dividends. These frank conversations eliminate many potential sources of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and general drama. When we know how one another is feeling, we’re empowered by that awareness to be who we are and how we are at that moment, giving whatever each of us is capable. This even allows for a bit of symbiosis.
Communication is one of the simplest and yet most difficult aspects of any relationship, and I believe a lot of that stems from fear. We hesitate to ask things of other people because we aren’t entirely sure of our own worthiness. Because we’re afraid we don’t deserve others’ time and attention, we confuse asking for help with ‘being selfish’ and owning our current reality with ‘being a whiner.’ What’s saddest about this is that in denying others the opportunity to help us, we lose an opportunity to develop greater intimacy with them and thereby increase everyone’s capacity to be authentic and vulnerable.
With a New Year fast approaching, it’s a good time to reflect on our challenges, for us all to decide how we’d like our lives to improve.
What does your ideal 2018 look like?
If you resolve to do only one outrageous, bold thing; let it be to ask for support when you need it. Be transparent with those who deserve your confidence and trust, and allow them the opportunity to do the same.