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Let's Talk About Messing Up and Making Up

You know that icky feeling you get after you've snapped at someone you care about? Yeah, that's where I'm at right now as I write this post. Just a few hours ago, I had a moment with a friend where I totally lost my cool. I blamed them for something they didn't even mean to do, and then got mad at them when I chose to help them out even though I didn’t want to. It's not a great feeling.

Seeing the look on their face when I expressed my raw frustration, immediately led me down the pathway of regret and guilt, wishing that I had been more connected to myself in that moment. But, weirdly enough, I'm also kind of proud of myself? It sounds strange, but hear me out. It was a real, human moment. It showed that even though I care deeply for compassionate, clear honest self expression, I can still mess up. And that's okay because it means I'm real, and it tests the strength of our friendship, showing that we can handle the messy stuff too.

I've been thinking a lot the last few days about how we can expect so much from ourselves and each other when it comes to talking and being honest with our feelings. Especially when learning how to undo the language of violence and blame that is so ingrained in our culture, 

So easily can we begin to expect of ourselves and others:

  • To always be self connected in the moment when we feel triggered. 

  • To always know how to express from a place of clarity, care, honesty and consideration.

  • To never have moments when we speak violently or hide our emotions and hurt ourselves in doing so. 

I see these expectations as another form of violence and domination culture. Cleverly dressed in a new outfit labelled “self awareness”. They lack space and compassion for our humanity and create a polarised view between the right and wrong way to communicate. I am worried and afraid of this polarisation can easily sneak its way between us undetected, creating more separation, loneliness and misunderstanding as we learn these modalities and begin to expect “perfection” of ourselves and the rest of the world. 

For me, being able to mess up, own it, and care for the impact we have on one another  is a huge part of what makes compassionate communication so authentic, and actually possible to live. I love that with acceptance of my raw humanity I can be even more honest with myself and the other person, and then trust that we can work through it together.

So, here are a couple of questions I've been asking myself that I thought might help you too if you ever find yourself in a similar spot:

  • - What was really important to me that got me so fired up? Sometimes we react because something we care a lot about feels threatened or ignored.

  • Why do I feel bad about how I acted? Thinking about what values or parts of the relationship I might have stepped on helps me understand my regret.

  • How might the other person be feeling right now? Trying to see things from their perspective helps me figure out how we can move past it.

These questions aren't about making excuses for acting out. And the intention of this post is not to give myself permission to act out without thinking from now on. This is an invitation to understand why the mess happened, so that we can reconnect and maybe learn together for next time.

Let's be real; we're all going to mess up sometimes. But it's how we deal with those mess-ups that shows what kind of friends, partners, or people we are. It's about learning to be human together, one honest conversation at a time.

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