Creating Pathways of Change

Truth and anxiety are closely related. We want to make people happy, so if we feel like we have something to say that might let them down or disturb them, we hold it in. We mean well, we don’t want to be selfish. We aren’t exactly lying, but we also aren’t telling the truth.

It makes sense, we are taught that being selfless is important, and the most honorable thing to do is to put others first. Yes to compassion, yes to caring for others, yes, we do sometimes have to compromise. At the same time, we can get off track chasing what we think we should do rather than experiencing what we actually feel. Often, we squish down what we really desire because we believe it will inconvenience someone. To us it feels like we are being easygoing- to everyone else, they are left trying to interpret something that isn’t true and figure out the unspoken puzzle we created. We say we are okay with something, and then resent that person for it, because we were not okay with it. Lol, relatable?

Here is the thing though, this is a piece that we have been taught to suppress for a very, very long time. It’s ancestral, it is in our blood. For most people, it isn’t easy to just start walking around saying what is true or what we want; it feels selfish.

So the answer, the single biggest thing you can do for yourself to release anxiety and promote healing starts creating pathways for truth.

Let me give you an example of my yes’s and no’s. If my partner and I were picking out a place to eat lunch, I used to go along with whatever he wanted, even if it wasn’t what I really wanted. I would either tell myself I was being considerate by just letting him choose, or I would convince myself that I wanted what he wanted too (ie. I just don’t feel like having sushi today, but it is a light meal and it is healthy, so maybe it’s good that we get sushi).

It’s just lunch, not a big deal.

Now let’s switch to something with higher stakes. You are working an edge around intimacy and pleasure, you are learning how to verbalize yes’s and no’s. If you go straight for the most triggering place to speak the truth, there is a very good chance it will get messy real fast. If it doesn’t turn out the way you expected, you might just end up reinforcing your old belief that it isn’t safe to say what you want. Add any sensitivity here and what you’ve created is more evidence to reinforce the story about suppressing your needs. So instead of practicing your yes’s and no’s at the highest stakes, try it on something simple first. When you can say what you really want for lunch and be okay with the fact that it might make someone uncomfortable, then you can move on to bigger things. Create pathways for yourself one step at a time.

You don’t have to be it all right now.

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