Difficult conversations with oneself
Sometimes, we are our own greatest enemies
Before the Easter holidays this year, the ladies at my place of work had a Lean In. For those not familiar, here’s an excerpt about what Lean In circles are: “Circles are a place where women can be unapologetically ambitious. Where we can give voice to our dreams and find the encouragement to start chasing them. They’re a place for sharing ideas, gaining skills, seeking advice, and showing solidarity. Most of all, they’re a place where we help each other become our very best selves. Whatever your goal — whether you’re working toward a promotion or building your confidence, reentering the workforce or starting a business — your Circle will help you get there.”
I work in an engineering firm and we are about 15 ladies in the circle. Our Lean In this month was centered on sharing about having difficult conversations and why they are important. From our discussion, we came to the conclusion that having difficult conversations — in any context be it the workplace, in friendships, relationships and with ourselves — helps us have a lighter and freer mind which in turn relieves stress. It makes our intentions known and clear and conversely allows room for clarity on a matter. When we choose to engage we allow ourselves to actively listen because we now seek to understand, to ask questions rather than keeping a closed conclusive perspective and finally to have productive discussions where we are willing and able to own our part and conversely contribute towards the improvement and healing.
Ultimately, the most important difficult conversations are the ones we have with ourselves.
For the past few years I have been stuck in my spiritual journey, friendships, dating and most recently work life (which only began 5 months ago after my graduation) because of issues I have refused to address. I avoid having sit-downs with myself because of the fear of confronting myself on personality traits that I already know are causing things to go awry in my life. Deep down, we can all recognize the flaws in our personalities that are causing us to remain stuck.
If we search deep enough, we can actually recognize patterns in our lives that recur for example, every time you fail a test each semester, you go binge drinking with friends and end up going overboard, or you might be a heavy sleeper and this might be standing in the way of your productivity at work because you are always late. It maybe that every time you are faced with even the slightest resistance in life, you soak your liver in alcohol and spiral into a brief stint of depression before you finally bounce back a little too late to fix things. And when we avoid these conversations, we tend to blame everyone but ourselves for our mess.
I am done blaming anyone but me. Its been about two weeks since that Lean In and I have been facing myself — at least once every two days or every time I notice a pattern resurfacing — asking the person in the mirror ‘why’. I have successfully pointed out a few issues; my laziness, serial procrastination, selfishness and poor communication skills that I project onto others. I came to the realization that I have been standing in my own way with regard to my dating life, pushing away my partner because I thought he was the bad communicator when really I needed to do a lot of work on myself in that area too. Thank God for forgiveness! With regard to my work life, I came face to face with the reality that I have been going very lazily about it. Taking for granted many opportunities that I have gotten that many fresh graduates don’t have. Previously, I would get off work every evening tired and complaining for doing little to nothing which isn’t fair and I know better.
Although I don’t have all my issues figured out right now, every day I deal with something small and every two weeks I tick a box on an issue I have dealt with. When we become good at ‘sitting down’ with ourselves, we are then able to push ourselves to do better and be better.
As a 20-something out here, I am well aware that I still don’t know how this life thing works. But at least I can now talk to myself as I chart out my journey and form the strongest friendship with the person who can potentially be my greatest enemy, myself.